The eating habits

You must consider and accept your current eating habits to form an adjustment plan that will work for you. Pretending or minimizing will set you up for failure. If your current daily eating pattern includes multiple snacks—even the smallest bit of food like a piece of candy, chewing gum, or mints counts as a snack—you should expect a longer adjustment period than if you usually skip breakfast, eat lunch, then have dinner with no in-between snacks. To take a proper accounting of snacks, you should include any calorie-containing drinks. Do you drink coffee with cream and/or sugar? Sugar-sweetened sodas, lemonade, or tea? Alcohol-containing drinks? Count each as a snack. To your body, every packet of fuel that comes into the stomach looks like a snack, whether it’s liquid before it enters your mouth or not. As you’ll see in the Calorie Creeps table (page 30), some liquid snacks pack a meal-sized calorie content. Part A: Push break~fast to lunchtime. If you already skip breakfast routinely and have no midmorning calorie intake, skip ahead to Part B. If you do eat breakfast, it is also your break~fast. Start your adjustment by delaying break~fast, whatever and whenever it is, until noon. Many people will be able to skip breakfast and have lunch at their usual time without any significant change in their pre-lunch hunger. If you cannot skip breakfast, gradually delay it. Substitute something you can eat quickly, such as a breakfast bar or breakfast drink, for your usual breakfast so you can have it at the appropriate time. Delay consuming it by 30 minutes every two days until you’ve reached the noon mark, and then continue with Part B. What about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? This slogan is brought to you by the same system that has helped make 65 percent of Americans overweight; it has helped to sell a lot of breakfast cereal and toaster pastries. You can see for yourself whether you’re better off with breakfast or without it. Put it to the test. Part B: Push break~fast to 5 pm. When you are consistently going without a morning meal, lunch is now your break~fast. If your lunchtime is not fixed by a rigid schedule, choose a start time for lunch, such as noon. Mark a calendar with your break~fast time, delaying it by 30 minutes every couple of days, so you know exactly when you can let yourself eat. Keep this up until break~fast time is 5 pm. If your fasting tolerance is developing well, you can advance the time increment to an hour a day. With no setbacks (or jumps ahead), the adjustment from a noon break~fast to a 5 pm break~fast will take 18 days. If you are unable to maintain your fast to the scheduled break~fast time, don’t stop trying. Use the same break~fast time for the following day. Keep trying until you make it a couple of days in a row, then push break~fast back by another 30 minutes. While fasting, drink lots of water, diet drinks, or unsweetened tea. Coffee’s fine too. Without cream or sugar, it has a negligible calorie content. This phase is a good time to try different kinds of herbal, green, or regular tea and see if you find one you like. Artificial sweeteners are acceptable; aspartame may be better than sucralose because sucralose may have unpleasant side effects on your gut when it is the only thing you’re consuming. Explore new tastes such as flavored seltzer/soda products to add variety, or make your own with club soda and a dash of lemon or lime juice concentrate. Prior to your break~fast time, identify something nutritious and filling that you will eat first as your break~fast food (a banana, granola bar, high-protein drink—whatever is the best of what’s available). Keep something like carrots, grapes, apples, peaches, peanuts, or a box of high-fiber breakfast cereal around so you can avoid sugary alternatives. If you’re hungry at your scheduled break~fast time, eat the designated break~fast food first, before you eat any of the less nutritious snacks you’ve been eyeing all day. If you’re not hungry, wait a while. As you eat or drink, focus on your hunger. How much food does it take to make the somatic hunger go away? Try to stop there and get busy with something else. What if you can’t stop? No problem as long as you stop sometime and stick with your schedule. If you have binges, don’t worry. Keep taking little steps toward your goal. The binge-eating should subside as your body and brain adapt to the new eating rhythm. While your gut is adapting to the change, you may notice some changes in your bowel activity that resolve as your body adjusts to the new eating pattern.

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