Plan For Eating

The goal in this section is to focus on identifying triggers or situations that come up in daily life that cause you to lose sight of your goals and plans for calories, food groups, and exercise. If you identify these triggers ahead of time, and you have a plan in place to deal with them, you will definitely increase your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Our objectives for this lesson are for you to select two key environmental triggers that can be barriers to weight loss and also develop a plan for monitoring and managing your hunger level. 


Emotions are important and common triggers that can get you off track. Many people feel stress from work, personal relationships, or finances on a daily basis. Think now about your stress level. How much stress do you feel? Does that stress cause you to eat more, and how often does your stress level get you in trouble with healthy eating and regular exercise? Thinking about these questions now will help you know if you need a plan for dealing with stress when you start your personal weight loss program. There are better ways to deal with stress other than eating more food or eating unhealthy food. 


Exercise is actually the very best stress buster there is. Your brain makes more endorphins. Those are hormones that reduce stress when you exercise on a regular basis.

Meditation and yoga are also useful. There are classes, videos, and even apps for your telephone that can help you reduce stress and stay on track.

Maybe stress is not a trigger for you, but boredom or loneliness are very common triggers that might get you off track. There you are at home or with what's on TV and feeling lonely, so off you go to the kitchen and look for food to give you something to do even though you're not hungry at all.

I know you've done this. I've done it too. But if this happens to you often, then you need to have a plan in place for how you're going to deal with boredom when you start your personal weight loss program. Now, I know I might sound like I'm repeating myself, but exercise is also great for cutting off boredom.

Instead of scouring through the kitchen, call a walking or biking partner and go out for a walk or a ride. Anything that gets you moving and out of the house is a good option when boredom sets in. 


Other solutions are listening to upbeat music, starting a new to-do list and actually doing something that is on the list, cleaning out the junk drawer or even rearranging your furniture.

The point is to replace the activity of eating food when you're not hungry with another activity.


The most obvious solution is to get adequate sleep every night.

Did you know that the lack of sleep causes a hormone imbalance in your body that actually makes you more hungry?

Your body makes more of a hormone called ghrelin, the hormone that increases your appetite when you have a pattern of poor sleep.

It's no surprise that exercise can increase alertness as well.

Instead of heading to the vending machine when you have an afternoon energy slump, a quick 10 minute stroll around your office building or workplace is a great way to spike your alertness.


From the time you were a child, special foods and drinks have been the focus of celebrations.

Whether it's a holiday or a birthday party, a wedding or a graduation party, you can easily count on at least a few celebrations every month of the year.

These celebrations are not going to stop coming.

So, if this is a trigger for you, you need a plan in place for how you will handle this when you start your weight loss program.

Celebrations are high risk for anyone who's trying to lose weight. There's usually lots of food and lots of unhealthy food right there in your sights. You can see it, you can smell it, and it can be very hard to resist.

Here are some helpful suggestions for before you go to the celebration.

Eat your regular meals on the day of the celebration.

Trying to save up all your calories for the celebration is definitely going to backfire. You'll find out that you're way too hungry to resist any of those goodies.

Eat a high protein snack, a low-fat yogurt or low-fat cheese, before you go to the celebration so that you're not hungry when you get there. You can always increase your exercise time or intensity on the day of the celebration to make up that calorie deficit and have a plan in mind for what you will eat at the celebration. Get the menu from the host in advance if you can.

Ask the host if you can bring a vegetable tray. That way, you will know there is something low in calories that you can munch on.

Once you arrive at the celebration, you can try some of these strategies. When you come into the room, survey the food table, make conscious decisions about what foods to take, how much to take, then take that amount of food, and don't go back to the food table.

One plate, one pass...

You should allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods. Just make sure the portions are small.

Try to focus yourself on conversations with people rather than eating food while you're at the celebration.

Don't stand or sit near the food table.

Force yourself to move to another room or area of the house.

You want to be sure to be careful with beverages. Water is the best no-calorie choice.

Take a few minutes now to write down your plan for managing your food intake at celebrations. 


The last trigger to discuss today is sadness. When you are feeling down, a sweet treat can really make you feel better. This is normal. This is expected.

If the only way you comfort yourself is with sweet treats and carb-filled comfort foods, then this trigger is a problem for you, and you need a plan.

Hitting the pause button, delaying your urge to turn to sweets when you're sad can be a useful strategy.

Give yourself a 10-minute delay time before giving in, and this can actually allow the urge to pass. You can also try a cup of hot herbal tea or lighting scented candles to help you resist the urge to eat when you are sad.

Playing with pets or calling a friend who is comforting to you are also good options.

Sadness is a normal human emotion that comes and goes in everyone's life.

If your sadness persists, you might need to seek professional advice.

An overall strategy for dealing with all of these triggers is to set this rule in your mind.

Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're full.

This sounds really simple, and it certainly works when you are trying to lose weight.

But many people have no idea when they're hungry and when they're full. They just eat at 8:00 AM, 12 noon, 6:00 PM, and before bed.

You can be more successful at losing weight and keeping it off if you learn to follow this rule by getting in touch with your internal cues of hunger and fullness.

Here is the hunger scale. It's a highly effective tool in your weight loss toolbox. Remember the rule, eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.

Pictured here from one to 10 are different levels of hunger and fullness.

Level one is totally starved, weak, dizzy, while level 10 is totally stuffed so that you actually feel sick.

You never want to be at these levels or really anywhere near them. That's why levels one and two and levels nine and 10 are colored in red. You want to keep yourself between levels four and six as much as possible.

Those are colored in green. That's just starting to feel hungry, neutral, not hungry and not full, and just starting to feel full.Can you tell me your hunger level right now?

Where are you right now on this one to 10 hunger scale?

It might be hard for you to decide right now. You need to practice this.

Every time you eat, ask yourself, what your hunger level is before and after you eat. Over time, you will definitely be more tuned in to your hunger and fullness levels, and this will definitely help you lose weight by helping you to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.