Habits for Weight Loss

Three Habits for Weight Loss

Many people with depression have trouble avoiding weight gain, a recent study suggests that there are three habits for weight loss which may help.

The study, which was published in BMJ Open, tracked nearly 60,000 people in Japan who also had type 2 diabetes and looked at eating habits and their relationship to weight gain over time. Aside from the large number of people studied, another strength of the study was that it followed people for more than six years.

The study found that eating food more slowly, avoiding snacks after dinner, and not eating within two hours of going to sleep each independently reduced the risk of weight gain.

The study did not find any evidence that skipping breakfast or poor sleep affected the risk of weight gain and had somewhat contradictory findings in terms of the effects of drinking alcohol on weight gain.

Eat Slowly

The study asked people to rate how fast they ate food, whether “fast” (1/3 of the subjects), “normal” (more than half of subjects) or “slow” (6% of subjects).

After taking into account other potential factors, the researchers found that those who said they ate at normal speed were 29 percent less likely to be obese than those who said they were fast eaters. The findings for slow eaters were even more striking: those who said they ate slowly were 42 percent less likely to be obese.

A story about the study in CBS News included these suggestions for fast eaters…

“Those who naturally eat slowly may be attending to their body’s cues for fullness, and eat a more appropriate portion during each eating occasion,” Nina Crowley, Ph.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist and health psychologist working at the Medical University of South Carolina, told CBS News.

If you are a fast eater, Crowley suggests trying to practice mindful eating, in which you consciously pay attention to each bite of food you put into your mouth and notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

“Mindful eating can help you train yourself to identify your own cues for both hunger and fullness and connect with physical, psychological and environmental cues that affect food decisions,” she said. “Most people could benefit from eliminating distractions like smartphones while eating and increasing their consciousness and awareness of the experience of eating and enjoying their food.””

This page talks more about mindful eating.

WikiHow has an article on how to eat slowly that has some useful suggestions.

Our favorites –

  1. Set and Setting – Set aside time for eating your meals. Think about what you are going to eat, why do you enjoy it? Make sure that you sit down to eat, never eat standing up. And set a table, even if you are eating alone. Quiet conversation or restful music may help.
  2. Savor your Food – Many years ago I read a book called “The Gourmet Diet” which proposed that the solution to obesity was to truly enjoy everything that we eat. To savor our food stimulates us to feel full when we have had enough.

Avoid Snacks After Dinner

Often when we snack it is because we feel bored or anxious. A good way of avoiding snacks after dinner is to think about what we do between dinner and bedtime and whether it satisfies us. Many of us watch television or spend time in front of our screens. Study after study finds the this time is often not as enjoyable as we think. People who watch more television are more often depressed. So it can be very helpful to think of other things to do: reading, taking a relaxing bath, listening to music, or even meditating can be good ways of preparing for bed.

Don’t Eat Dinner Within Two Hours of Bedtime

Late dinners are more often converted to fat, because our body does not need the calories, as we wind down for sleep. Most of us don’t eat this close to bedtime, unless we have to go to bed very early. But if you do it is worth thinking about ways of tweaking your habits to avoid gaining unnecessary weight.

For More Information

Myths of Weight Loss


Hurst YFukuda H. Effects of changes in eating speed on obesity in patients with diabetes: a secondary analysis of longitudinal health check-up data.