While nutrition quality is a primary focus at McDaniel Nutrition, we also emphasis self-assessment of habits to support weight loss and reaching health goals. The formation of healthy habits make it easier to not only lose weight, but sustain successful weight loss for good.

1. Healthy Habits for Weight Loss: Monitor Your INNER Chatter.

Clear the Clutter in Your Head.  As a dietitian who specializes in weight loss, it would be a disservice to my clients if I didn’t talk to them about their mental preparation for weight loss.

Negative mental chatter impedes our ability to lose weight by keeping us stuck in a place of self-defeat.

Self-Compassion Evidence:

In a study of college-aged women, two groups of women were asked to eat donuts, however, only one of the groups were trained in the practice of self-compassion.  When both groups were offered candy at the end of the session, the self-compassion group ate significantly less sweets.

While only a small study, I also see evidence of this in my practice.

Evidence in my practice:

Clients who tend to be hard or highly critical of themselves for their perceived weight loss “failures” tend to have less motivation to stay the course. On the flip side, clients with similar nutrition “mistakes” might verbalize that the weekend was a busy one and accept that slip ups happen. The self-compassionate mindset allows them to more quickly move on to better choices.

How to become more compassionate:

Step 1: Be aware and catch yourself in sabotaging thoughts

Step 2: Rewrite thoughts. Instead of beating yourself up for a missed morning workout, you might rewrite that thought pattern by reminding yourself that that extra sleep was necessary and you will schedule a 30-minute walk later at your lunch break.

Over time, this practice will cultivate a healthier self-confidence, giving you the tools you need for sustainable weight loss.

2. Healthy Habits for Weight Loss: Use the strategy of scheduling.

Most of us are good at scheduling work-related meetings or doctor’s appointments, but we aren’t so good at scheduling “me-time.” Activities like a yoga class or trip to the farmer’s market get easily replaced. Scheduling has power, and in fact, is one of the most powerful strategies for habit formation. Scheduling is a straightforward way of converting an intention or activity into a long-lasting habit. When you plan ahead for meal prep or a spin class, you assess whether you really have time (or want to make time) to accomplish it.

3. Healthy Habits for Weight Loss: Be a More Mindful Eater

Studies are mixed on whether mindful eating helps people lose weight. However, when you slow down, pay attention to what you eat, and listen to your body’s signs of hunger and satiety – if nothing else, it brings more pleasure to the eating experience. Studies have shown that mindful eating decreases emotional eating and binge eating episodes. When I pair mindful eating with nutrition education in my practice, I have seen it increase the success of weight loss.

One study from Brown University found that people who were “mindful” of thoughts, feelings and physical states such as hunger or stress had about a 1 pounds less of fat around their abdomen compared to the less mindful group.

MINDFUL EATING TIPS:
  • Add a gratitude practice before you eat. This positive mental change during eating might help reduce emotional eating.
  • Power down when eating – studies have shown that meal multi-tasking is associated with greater calorie intake.
  • Take a seat – one study showed that standing while eating resulting in a higher calorie intake at the next meal compared to those who sat down while eating.

While none of these healthy habits are earth-shattering, when intentionally practiced, can significantly shift your mindset. This healthier mindset helps you achieve weight loss goals with less effort and more ease.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.