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Enjoying Food To Lose Weight

As The Great American Weight Loss continues, CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay looks at one of the many excuses people use to explain why they can't drop those pounds.

Excuse of the Day: I don't eat that much; I don't know why I can't lose weight. So why try?

For some people, this may be a valid excuse, based on their heredity, metabolism and dieting history, says Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, the Director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute in Ohio.

But for others who have a hard time losing weight because of eating habits, the problem can be solved, Kearney-Cooke says.

She says that in the '90s, multi-tasking is part of the reason people have a difficult time sticking to a healthy diet.

"We pride ourselves on doing two, three things at once," she says. "We eat while we watch TV, we eat while we drive in our car, while we talk on the phone in our car, and often we don't even know what we ate."

As a result, people lose track of meals and mealtimes. Both can lead to overeating.


What's the answer to that problem? Those who are struggling to lose weight should be aware of their dieting habits, Kearney-Cooke advises.

The Great American Weight Loss Tip of the Day is: Keep a food log.

In the food log, you should:

  • Keep track of what you eat each day.
  • Write down the amounts of each food item you eat.
  • Note where you eat.
  • Write down the time of day you eat and what's going on at the time.
The purpose of the food log is to help people understand what is triggering the overeating. If someone notices that they're eating late in the afternoon, but missing lunch, that may be a reason that they are not losing weight.

"You're thinking, 'I'll skip lunch. This way, I'll lose weight'," Kearney-Cooke says. "But by skipping lunch, you are hungry at 4:00, you may take in 500 calories. It would have been better to eat lunch."

Researchers say that those who keep track of eating tend to eat less.

Another common problem: Making unhealthy food choices. Kearney-Cooke suggests making a conscious lifestyle change, by taking time to enjoy a meal instead of juggling several tasks while eating a quick snack.

"I think it's really important to have a whole ritual around eating where you sit down set a table, light a candle, and just acknowledge that the meal is beginning and that this is a period of time that what I'm going to do is eat," she says.

This approach is what some people call "mindful eating" where the single activity is enjoying the meal.

Kearny-Cooke also says that people should note to themselves when they are feling full, and when the meal is over. To do this, they can have a ritual cup of tea, or brush their teeth.

Kearney-Cooke says that people should keep a food log for about a month initially, then for about a week at a time every once in a while to check up on their eating habits.

Reported by Dr. Emily Senay