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Eating and Losing Weight Like a Man

Macho Maneuver #1: Men Stress Less

Have you ever heard your hubby say, “I just ate three M&Ms now I have to run on the treadmill for 20 extra minutes?” Most likely, no.

Believe it or not, your husband’s relaxed attitude toward dieting is one secret to his slimming success. The high level of restraint women display when it comes to eating can actually be their downfall. “When women diet, they get too focused,” says Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the nutrition clinic at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and author of The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health -- and What You Can Do About It (Hunter House). “It’s good to be aware of what you’re eating and how many calories you’re taking in, but if you get stressed out over every little morsel, that goes against you and your weight-loss efforts.”

In fact, a study shows that women who have high dietary restraint -- for example, they constantly say no to their favorite foods -- have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes the body to store fat in the midsection.

How to Master This Man Move: Hand Off the Stress

Forget about weighing your food down to the last nanogram. A more relaxed attitude toward dieting will keep stress levels down and the pounds off. To nix the obsessive calorie counting while still eating in moderation, Dr. Talbott suggests using your hands as a portion control device at each meal:

  1. Hold your hand out and spread your fingers as wide as you can; that’s how many fruits and veggies you should pile on your plate.
  2. Use your tightly closed fist as a guide to how much starch to eat, such as oatmeal, pasta or bread.
  3. Note how large your palm is. Your protein serving should be that size.
  4. Make an O.K. sign with your fingers. The circle made by your thumb and forefinger is about the amount of added fat to have.

“By using this method, you’ll be getting about 1,500 calories daily without fat, calorie or carb counting,” says Dr. Talbott. “It’s a huge relief for people. Food isn’t the enemy anymore. When that adversarial role goes away, stress levels go down and so do the pounds.”

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