Anyone who has experienced the dynamics of a relationship with the opposite sex will know all too well that when it comes to life, men and women could not be more different. Indeed this even holds true in many ways for the simple acts of eating and exercise. For men, the approach to food, diet and exercise is actually very simple. And girls, we can actually learn a trick or two from our testosterone driven partners, as hard as this may be to comprehend.
When it comes to food, nutrition, exercise and even dieting, things are very simple when you are a man. There are meals that you need to eat each day to fuel the body, generally determined by the physiological feeling of hunger; there are sports you play or a gym you go to stay in shape, and if you do want to lose a few kg, you cut back, stop eating so much rubbish and exercise a little more. Generally speaking, men approach diet, exercise and even weight loss in the same way that they approach life – with a singular focus on what they are doing, no exceptions.
When oestrogen is a key driving force, food, eating and weight loss is a little more complicated. First of all there are the emotions that can act as a powerful driver over what we eat – we all know how powerful the urge for chocolate may be when we are sad, tired or just hormonal. Then we have the psychological programming that tends to play mind games and distracted with thoughts such as ‘but I have been good so I deserve this block of chocolate’ or self justifications of, ‘just one last biscuit and I will start fresh with my diet tomorrow’. And as if battling these two demons was not enough, women also tend to fall prey to other women and find themselves in social situations that revolve completely around food and eating, with harsh cross examination if you are seen to not be eating with the rest of the group.
So if you know that your thoughts and emotions do get the better of you when it comes to your diet and weight loss attempts, here is how you can eat like a man and reap the benefits.
1. Don’t think, just do.
This means no rationalisations, no excuses, no balancing, and no justifications. When it comes to your daily food and exercise regime, work towards actively managing the distracting thoughts that can undermine your resolve. When you start to consider different food options that you know you should not be having, or excuses as to why you should divert from your program, practice focusing only on what you should be doing to achieve your goals. And likewise, if you do go off track, practice not ruminating but diverting your thoughts to the next thing you can do to get back on track. This helps to prevent the ‘all or nothing’ approach to diet in which you are either ‘on’ track or not.
2. Concentrate only on yourself.
If a bloke is eating a salad for lunch, his mates or work buddies probably will not notice but if a girl is seen to be eating lightly, she is far more likely to be confronted with a million questions about what she is eating and why. The same can be said for exercise programs. Be aware of the influence of others on your daily diet and exercise choices and be prepared to keep strong no matter how much questioning there is, because really, whose business is it anyway?
3. Get a plan that suits you and stick to it.
When it comes to diet and exercise, one of the biggest issues is that we receive so much differing information on a daily basis that it can be challenging to identify what is the right diet and exercise regime for us as individuals. So, rather than listen to your friends, your boyfriend, your trainer or the latest magazine article, take some time to really consider the way that you need to eat and exercise to control your weight. Once you have committed to this, it is much less likely you will be distracted by the latest diet headline.
4. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
Have you noticed how much more often women are found in the kitchen snacking at work? If you simply focus on eating well balanced meals and snacks at set times throughout the day, the easier you will find it to control your calorie intake and reach the weight goals we have set for ourselves. Asking yourself the simple question of, ‘Am I really hungry?” can be all that it takes to determine if you are eating out of habit or emotionally as opposed to needing to fuel your body because it is a meal time.
5. Drop the food focus
Do you see men baking and bringing treats to work, or organising morning teas at work? Whether it is biological destiny to feed others or the nurturing aspect of being a woman that sees females focus on food socially, unfortunately this focus also tends to lead to a lot of extra eating which many small women do not need. Whether it is catching up over coffee and cake, meeting for dinner or the energy that gets directed towards detailed menu planning, we are likely to eat a whole lot less if we did not include so much food as part of our daily interactions. Try catching up with friends over a walk rather than cake or practice not over catering when entertaining because put most simply, the more food that is there, the more we will eat. Rarely do you see boys catching up over beer and cakes now do we?
6. Don’t blame your emotions
When was the last time you saw your man give himself permission to drive to the supermarket or service station to purchase a family sized block of chocolate because he had a bad day? Sure, occasionally he may drown his sorrows at the pub but men are far less likely to use their emotions as an excuse to overeat high fat foods. So next time you are feeling a little low, angry or frustrated, rather than seeking out your favourite comfort food, practice using that energy for something far more conducive to health and fitness – a run, a clean out, or even a few drinks with your closest friends is a far better option that eating an entire packet of biscuits or block of chocolate and then having to deal with the extra calories later.