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Avoid Unhealthy Eating Habits

Strive for moderation, not perfection

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

You're stuffed after enjoying a delicious dinner, yet you can't resist the urge to order a decadent dessert. Or you starve yourself all day, then gorge yourself until bedtime. Or maybe you nearly always eat on the run, standing up or while driving.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, your eating habits could use a tune-up. All could indicate unhealthy habits that can stand in the way of long-term weight loss success.

Listen to Your Body

Anyone who struggles with food and eating can fall into habits that may lead to what professionals call disordered eating. Disordered eating can take many forms, ranging from unhealthy eating habits that keep you from losing weight to binge eating disorder, bulimia, or anorexia.

Don't let your desire to lose weight create unhealthy eating habits. Your first step should be to accept your body and be proud that you are a member of the Weight Loss Clinic, improving your health while you slim down.

One of the best ways to take charge of your eating habits is to tune into your body -- that is, to learn to eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full. It's easier said than done, but with a little practice, you can learn to control your calorie intake without feeling deprived.

Nobody's Perfect

Your goal should be moderation, not perfection. Denying your normal desires to enjoy appetizing food can backfire, leading to binges and disordered eating habits.

Our philosophy at the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic is to help you create an eating plan that includes your favorite foods -- albeit in lesser amounts or healthier versions -- to keep you feeling satisfied. We also aim to help you slowly change bad habits into healthy ones that will stay with you for life.

One of the most powerful cues to overeat comes when a high-calorie food is put in front of you. It's almost impossible to resist when mouth-watering food is right under your nose!

But don't despair. You don't have to totally resist the urge to dive in; all you need to do is to limit your indulgences. Before you take the first bite, do a "belly check": Are you really hungry, or are you just eating because it's there?

What Makes Us Overeat?

Our lives would be much simpler if eating was as straightforward as putting gas in an empty tank. But eating is so much more than filling an empty belly.

A multitude of behavioral, attitudinal, emotional, psychological, social, and environmental factors help determine when and what we eat. When the going gets tough, even the tough may start eating.

Be mindful of your decision to eat something or not, rather than eating impulsively or mindlessly. You are in control of what you choose to eat. Once you start making better eating choices, it gets easier -- and you become more resolute as you see the benefits of your behavior.

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