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How Waiting Will Encourage You to Make Healthy Eating Choices

Believe it or not, waiting to eat may actually encourage better food choices -- and help you shed pounds.

Having trouble making healthy eating choices? You’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says over 70 percent of adult Americans are overweight or obese. But will waiting to eat help you make better food choices? You might be surprised to find out the answer is usually yes.

1. Surround Yourself with Healthy Foods

When you’re hungry, don’t splurge on the first food you see or smell — however tempting it might be. Wait until you’re at home or have access to healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, lean protein foods, grains or nuts. Reaching for sweets, sugary drinks, fried foods, fast food, or other high-calorie items puts you at risk for unwanted weight gain. Surround yourself with healthy foods you before you dig in. Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate Daily Checklist help you plan nutritious meals based on individualized calorie needs.

2. Drink Water before Meals

Before you reach for high-calorie foods or snacks, drink two cups of water first. Doing so can help you eat fewer calories at meal time and shed pounds if you’re overweight, says a 2013 study published in Australian Family Physician. This is because water fills you up, reducing hunger cravings. So be patient, and slowly sip water before meals to stay (or become) slim and trim.

3. Eat Slowly

It might be difficult to pace yourself when you’re starving, but doing so is a key factor in making healthier food choices — and maintaining an ideal body weight. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that slower eating reduces food intake in normal-weight people, boosts fullness, and lowers hunger ratings 60 minutes after meals. So take your time, and slowly enjoy each meal to the fullest.

4. Consider a Health Coach

Waiting for the right health coach (or dietitian) is another key to making better food choices. Your coach can serve as a diet mentor, providing you with healthy eating tips — or planning meals and menus to keep your eating on track. A 2015 study published in Health Promotion Practice says 16 weeks of health coaching sessions led to significant improvements in blood pressure, body weight, and blood glucose in study subjects with high blood pressure.

5. Eat Higher-Calorie Foods Last

Waiting to eat high-calorie foods last is a good way to control overall energy intake for healthy weight management — especially if you have weight to lose. Focus on lower-calorie options like vegetables, fruits, and lean protein foods (tofu, fish, chicken breast, nonfat Greek yogurt or egg whites) first. Then, move on to whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Last on the list, fill up on higher-calorie options (like nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, oils, etc.) to help you feel satisfied without overdoing it on calories.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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