9 Behavior Patterns of Healthy Senior Weight Loss: Forget Diets, Think Behavior!

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Thin behavior has fascinated me for years. I just dont get it. I dont mean the kind of behavior where skinny kids squeezed through fence slats in the alley, or where my teenaged friends stretched thin, nubile bodies on the beach at Shady Oak Lake as I huddled on my towel.


I mean the eating kind of thin behaviors, like:

  • Choosing a bowl of vegetable soup over clam chowder.
  • Preferring a chefs salad over a burger and fries, or grilled fish rather than steak.
  • Leaving food on your plate (not just the onions youve picked out of your salad).
  • Nibbling one Rice Krispy bar for a half hour (I actually witnessed this).
  • Choosing small portions of only three dishes offered at a potluck. (I also take small portions but end up with 20 things heaped on my plate.)

Im Thin-Behavior Challenged. Why Me?

It all began in my youth. I grew up in the 50s when one of my favorite TV programs was the Ding-Dong School which featured the Do-Bee song: Do be a plate cleaner. Dont be a food shirker. I took it to heart.

Another influence that pushed me to eat was Moms admonition when I left food on my plate. Think of the hungry children in China.

Like any self-respecting child, I knew better than to say they were welcome to it, although I would have happily wrapped my Swedish meatballs and shipped them to those unfortunates.

Another obstacle to thin behavior was the No dessert until you eat up strategy. The logic in that escapes me. Eat a lot, then you can eat more. I learned it well, though. I eat a lot, then I have more.

The main reason Im thin-behavior challenged, though, is that I love food. Lots of it. I love snickerdoodle cookies hard to stop before 12. I have a good friend who is aghast if she indulges in a third cookie. Im sure shes never eaten a whole bag. Thats why I dont bake.

One slice of pizza is just a teaser, and Im nearly certain that heaven is lined with camembert and brie.

What Can You Do?

I used to go on crash diets and fast for days, neither of which was wise or healthy. Finally, in desperation, I joined Weight Watchers, which educated me about changing my attitudes and behaviors rather than starving myself.

It changed my life. I went from a binge eater to a sensible one. I revere thin behaviors. I must admit they dont come naturally, but Im doing better all the time. These are some of the behaviors that help me:

Drinking Water

I guzzle a glass of water every time I migrate to the kitchen. (It fills me up and deters me from mindless snacking.) That water glass is the first thing I see, waiting by the sink. I try to down at least six glasses of water in each day.

Knowing Your Temptations

I avoid red-light foods (foods I cant resist), which for me are cheese and crackers, especially in the late afternoon. I know some people cant resist sweets.

Placing Boundaries

I plant myself far from the appetizer table at gatherings once Ive tasted a few items.

Shopping Smart

I avoid shopping on an empty stomach. Morning works best for me.

Routine of Rewards

I use rewards. I dont allow myself a cup of morning coffee until Ive done 20 minutes of stretches and exercises.

Staying on the Move

I exercise with friends daily, and when thats not possible, I listen to audio books while I walk, bike, or hike.

Home Spa Relief

Sometimes, I treat myself to a long bath when Im feeling out of control (late afternoon for me). Food doesnt go in the bathroom, at least not at my house.

Brushing Teeth

When Im hankering for a treat it helps to go brush my teeth. It quells my appetite. Dill pickles and candied ginger work, too.

Up the Healthy Servings

Im trying to eat five servings of fruit and veggies every day, which continues to be a challenge.

I still love food, and I still lose control sometimes, but these basic behavior changes have made it much easier for me to control my eating habits. That helps me feel more in control of every aspect of my life.


What do you do when you feel the hunger bangs in your mind, not your stomach? How often do you snack? What is the usual serving size at your table? Please join the conversation so our community can benefit from your experience.