Jennifer Lawrence is on fire. Besides her sizzling role as Katniss Everdeen in the latest installation of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, she’s heating up every conversation: Beauty bloggers are spotting operatic makeup from the movie on Instagram; her new trendsetting pixie ‘do is all over the fashion spread; and the weight watchers are buzzing about her no-diet diet plan to stay in fabulous fighting shape.
In case you haven’t heard, the 23-year-old Oscar winner who is slender as can be, told US magazine Life and Style that she refuses to diet and is happy to look, ahem, “a little chubby” on camera.
“I’m just so sick of these young girls with diets,” she told the magazine. “I think it’s really important for girls to have people to look up to and feel good about themselves.”
A positive affirmation to be sure, but when you consider the fact that J.Law believes she has a full figure, it’s easy to see just how relative sizes run in Hollywood. We can only hope that normal girls don’t look at her and use the word “chubby”. While skinny DNA definitely play a part, naturally thin women like Ms Lawrence do have a few smart habits that allow them to thrive in our super-sized world. Let’s steal their tricks and play the hunger game right to stay svelte without dieting.
EAT WITHOUT DISTRACTIONS
We’ve become a nation of multi-taskers. We often try to sneak in a bite while driving, working, reading, walking, and well, just about any activity. While it may seem more efficient to tick a few boxes off your daily “to do” list all at once, people who eat mindfully tend to feel much more satisfied with less calories.
Remember when you were still a kid who was offered a precious ice cream cone on a hot summer day? Being so into it, you couldn’t help but let out a “Mmmmmmm” as you took every mouthful. Some adults maintain that kind of awareness, while most of us just barrel through our plates without the brain registering it as a satisfying experience that’s well worth every calorie. According to the research, simply sitting down to fully savour the flavours of your food can result in naturally cutting 300 fewer calories a day, enough to drop two sizes in one year!
Investing 20 minutes of undivided attention to your meals will also allow you to tune in to your body’s subtle signals better. A new study found that women who listened to their bodies had significantly lower body mass indexes than those who did not. To learn from these naturally slim “intuitive eaters”, stop a couple of times during your meal and ask yourself “Am I still hungry”, eat only when you’re hungry and give yourself permission to grab a nosher whenever you feel the familiar rumble.
Read More: Mindful Eating – “Handy” Tips to Size Up Your Meal
STOP EATING YOUR FEELINGS
If you’ve been trying hard to eat healthy, only to reach for the bag of chips when the pressure’s on, don’t beat yourself up. The truth is, we are hardwired to crave for sugary, fatty foods. Stress leads to a cortisol surge, hence increasing appetite, especially for the sweet stuff which is linked to positive childhood events and triggers release of serotonin (the “happy neurochemical”).
So if you fall prey to a comforting dulce de leche ice cream piled atop a fudge brownie after a bad day, just know that you’re human, take a deep breath and bag the guilt. Berating yourself (“I’m such an useless pig!”) will not only take the much-needed pleasure out of that splurge, the negative self-talk can literally pack on self-perceived pounds says a new study, cause you to give up…and dig into another high calorie mood booster.
After all, even skinny gals aren’t immune to emotional eating. They just remember to “HALT” (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired) – the four most common triggers for emo binges – before things get out of hand. If you aren’t really hungry, but angry or lonely, take a 15 minute jog for heartbeat boost or call a friend to defuse the internal tension before you snap and reach for a big sugary soother. And if you’re tired, it’s time to hit the sack, for goodness sake. Until you tackle your stress and emotions, no amount of willpower will help you achieve and maintain your diet goals. So schedule a 5-30 minutes “Me” time to do a little activity you enjoy (that’s not work!) on a daily basis for essential emotional maintenance to keep you calm…and away from the cheesecake.
Read More: Eat to Beat Stress
Eat real foods and limit processed ones, that is. A whole apple beats the apple juice drink from a carton hands down. Besides delivering more valuable nutrients, it will help you eliminate empty calories from “invisible” sugar lurking in sneaky sources. A CDC report found that even careful eaters consume an alarming average of 15 teaspoons of added sugar daily (an excess of 9 tsp compared to the recommended 6 by the American Heart Association). Most of that extra killer candy is hidden in “healthy” staples like juice drinks, ready-made salad dressing and tomato sauce.
Another simple reason why eating real food can get you effortlessly thin: It’s usually high-volume food. Raw vegetables, in particular, are high in fiber and volume so when you eat a veggie or fruit salad first, you’ll end up with less tummy space for other higher-calorie foods.
Read More: Spot the Health Food Fakes
NEVER YO-YO DIET
Weight cyclers have lower metabolism. When your weight crashes, you lose muscle and fat. But when you rebound back up, it’s mostly fat gained. Here’s the maths: A pound of muscle torches 9 times more calories than a pound of fat. So it’s easy to see how yo-yo diets will hamstring your metabolism and bring you on a downward spiral.
Ensure a balanced diet with lean quality proteins and include muscle-building weight exercises in additional to your usual cardio activities (which you’re doing, aren’t you?) to get your fat-burning metabolic engine working efficiently and whittle your waistline for good.
Read More: Kickstart Your Metabolism
CUT THE NIGHT NIBBLING
There are few absolutes in weight loss science – low-carb vs high-carb diets, whether fruits and snacks will get you slimmer or fatter, blah blah…have been all subjects of endless debate. Amid this dissonant squabbling between scientists, a clarion truth seems to be emerging: Eating at night is strongly associated with being overweight and obese.
Two new studies add weight to this consensus and offer some insight into why night snacking can make you overweight. The first study showed that night snacking changes your metabolism for the worst. Healthy women who took a 210 calorie bedtime snack at 10-11pm had decreased fat oxidation (the rate at which fat is metabolized into energy and not stored as excess flab) and boosted total and LDL (a.k.a “bad” cholesterol).
In the second study by Northwestern University, night owls who ate in the evening or before sleeping are predisposed to weight gain, since they consumed higher total calories (a phenomenon familiar to anyone who mindlessly munches brownie bites in front of the TV).
If you must have a p.m. snack, try to munch before 8, keep to a small serving of calcium-enriched protein like low-fat milk or cottage cheese (research suggests calcium may help boost fat metabolism), and eat off a small red plate or cup (we are conditioned to recognize the colour red as a stop signal, thereby reducing mindless snacking, according to a recent Swiss study).
Read More: Lose Your Bulge Sitting in a Couch
– By Claudia Lin
*This article has been selected Editor’s Choice for Nov 2013*