Physical Health

How to Develop (and Maintain) Healthy Eating Habits

July 11, 2012

In our previous column, we discussed the importance of the need to make basic behavioral changes in order to achieve long-term success. Today, let’s learn a few tips to help us achieve that.

  • Reinstitute portion control.  Over the last few decades, portions have tripled in size. It is very easy for excess calories to accumulate. Do you realize how small most servings of cereal are? Even though the box says “120 calories,” you could easily be consuming 240 calories or more. Identify proper portion sizes and stick to them. Use smaller plates and bowls; it helps! Go to the AICR site and use their serving size finder to see the traditional serving size or learn how to eyeball your portions.
  • Don’t allow eating to be part of another activity. We tend to eat while driving, watching television, reading or doing household tasks. Eating time is a time to enjoy your food and be aware of your meal. When engaged in other activities, you aren’t aware of the amount of food you are eating. You consume more. Therefore, eating must be its own activity.
  • Stay away from negative stimuli. If keeping nosh and junk food in your house stimulates you to eat it, remove it! If reading or watching ads about food encourages you to raid the pantry, eliminate that stimulus. Limit your eating to the kitchen and dining room. Replace negative food cues (a dish of candy) with a positive cue (a bowl of fruit). And if you have a cookie jar or junk food cabinet, get rid of it completely.
  • Eat out responsibly.  Eating out is an inevitable part of our social lives. And while it definitely presents challenges for the dieter, there are ways to keep it under control. Order half portions or share your meal. Order an appetizer and/or soup instead of a full meal. Only order items that are broiled, baked or grilled with minimum oil (not fried). Ask that the sauces and dressings be put on the side so you can control how much you use, if at all. Finally, just as you should do at home, put your fork down in between bites and remain aware of how much you are eating.
  • Write it down! If there is one thing all of us in the weight loss field agree about, it is that in order to be a successful weight controller, writing down your daily food intake is an absolute MUST. Review your charts every few days and show them to a qualified professional. It will create accountability and a tremendous awareness of your food intake and eating habits.

As a personal trainer who specializes in weight loss, I can tell you from extensive first-hand experience that that the most successful “losers” are the ones who can incorporate the behavioral changes we previously mentioned into their lives. No, not everyone will be a successful weight controller, but even partial success is vital to your health. No, not everyone will become an avid exerciser, but incorporating some exercise and activity into your life can and absolutely will only change your health for the better. Certainly, if you make the effort and incorporate some permanent lifestyle changes, your chances for success are increased many times over. And “success” in this case means a better quality of life, longer life, better health and better well-being each day of your life.

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. certified personal trainer and a lifestyle fitness coach with over 16 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It!  He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.