Q: I’ve always been overweight and use food as comfort. What can I do to help change my habits?

A: First of all, it’s great that you recognize that you are using food as comfort. Many of us eat mindlessly, taking bite after bite, long after we’ve reached the satiety level. We continue eating, not because we are still hungry, but because we are eating for another reason other than physical hunger. Stop and ask yourself if there might be something else that’s causing you to eat.

Are you tired? Take a nap or (this sounds counterintuitive, but it works) take a walk.
Are you bored? Try soduku, e-mail a friend, take a walk or knit a scarf.
Are you stressed out? Take a bath, take a walk, breathe! (Notice how often “take a walk” can help!)

If hunger isn’t the problem, then food isn’t the answer. The more you pay attention to what really bothering you, the better you can deal with the true issue at hand. You’ll feel better about yourself when you know yourself better.

Q: I’ve got a major sweet tooth. Are there sweet foods I can still indulge in?


A: At Weight Watchers, we encourage you not to deprive yourself of treats you enjoy. If you begin your healthy eating lifestyle by thinking, “I’ll never get to eat ice cream again,” chances are you won’t stick to your healthy eating plan for long. It’s okay to have an occasional sweet treat, as long as you watch the portion size. If you crave something sweet after every meal, try fruit. At first it may not satisfy your sweet tooth like candy or ice cream, but don’t give up! In just a few days you’ll discover that the fruit does the trick and unlike a candy bar, the fruit has vitamins and fiber that are so good for your body. You might also try a spoon full of honey drizzled over the fruit to sweeten it up. While there are a wide variety of “low cal” cookies and cakes that will also help curb your craving for sweets, those foods are usually highly processed and will not fill you up/satisfy you like fruit will. All we are saying, is give fruit a chance!

Q: Is there an easy step I can take each day to help me get a healthier relationship with food?


A: Food is fantastic fuel for our bodies. However, we have put huge pressure on food and have tried to make food more than it is designed to be. We have turned food into our best friend when we are lonely, a “must have” in social situations, or something we inhale quickly without much thought. If you can begin each day by thinking about your meals as giving you energy and thinking of friends and family as giving you companionship, that will help. Also, take time to sit down and truly enjoy what you’re eating. Notice the texture, the taste, the smell. Focus on the food, not the computer or the television or the newspaper. Practice mindful eating each and every day.

Consider keeping a food journal, writing down everything you eat and drink. We tend to dramatically underestimate how much we eat – we forget the handful of M&Ms we grabbed as we walked past the candy bowl or the double-latte mocha that we downed earlier in the morning. Writing down every BLT you eat – every bite, lick, and taste – will help you stay accountable. You might also want to note what you’re eating. Are your meals filled with fruits and vegetables? Are you getting some lean protein during the day? Are you drinking plenty of non-alcoholic liquids?

Also, have a long talk with yourself. You are your own best friend or your worst enemy. Do you fill your head with positive self-talk: “I can do this!,” “I’m worth it!,” “I am going to be the healthiest me I can be!” or do you talk to yourself as if you are a failure? Post positive sayings on your computer screen, your mirror, your refrigerator, your steering wheel. You’ll be surprised how positive words can spawn positive actions. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

Q: I hate to sweat. Do I really have to exercise in order to lose weight?


A: It is possible to lose weight by adjusting your food intake alone. However, exercise will help you reach your weight-loss goals more rapidly. In addition, exercise has been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease, some cancers and even Alzheimer’s. Exercise strengthens muscles and bones. It also improves your sleep and a good night’s sleep is beneficial to weight loss because sleeping seven hours or more per night causes our bodies to release an appetite-suppressing hormone called leptin. Exercise produces endorphin hormones, which are mood-boosters. And it’s been shown to increase energy levels. Research is finding that even ten minutes of moderate exercise is beneficial; you don’t necessarily have to spend an hour and a half at the gym. Find something you enjoy – whether it’s walking, bowling, gardening – and do it on a regular basis. But don’t forget to change things up from time to time to keep you from becoming bored with your routine.

Q: I eat out a lot. What are some tips to choosing healthy foods at restaurants?


A: There are several challenging things about dining out: the portion sizes are out-of-control, you’re not really sure how the food has been prepared, and there are added temptations like baskets of bread and butter or chips and salsa. If possible, research the restaurant before you go. Find the healthiest options and rehearse ordering those items in your head. If you’ve rehearsed it several times, you’re more likely to act on what your rehearsed and order the healthier meal, rather than blurt out some impulsive choice when the server arrives. Make the server your weight loss friend. Ask him/her how certain items are prepared and request that they leave out the butter or the creamy sauce. Also, ask your server to go ahead and place half of your meal in a “to-go box” at the beginning of the meal. Avoid foods that have terms such as, “au gratin”, “creamy”, “buffalo” and “Alfredo.” Lean towards terms such as, “broiled,” “baked,” “steamed” and “poached.”

Have a question for our expert? This line is open until Friday, July 15th. Our expert will then answer the top questions and we’ll post their answers right here and on our Facebook page.