Boundaries exist as a means to create structure and prevent chaos. For many people who struggle with their weight, unstructured eating creates a system of disorder that ultimately leads to caloric excess. This is why meal plans have become so popular - they provide structure.


Remember that any caloric excess is stored as fat, whereas a caloric deficit creates weight loss. Rarely do unstructured eaters take in too few calories. Instead, most unstructured eaters lose track of how many small bites and sips they’ve had throughout the day, often skipping meals but grazing throughout the day.


Very few consumers truly understand and appreciate the impact that even small bites and snacks can have on caloric intake. If what may seem like small amounts of food are consumed over a long period of time, they can gradually lead to weight gain without muscle tone, while preventing weight loss.


Lasting weight loss requires structure and boundaries around food. Not every day can be carried out with military precision or Olympic perfection, but there should be a general structure to your meals and boundaries around food that prevent binges and keep caloric consumption at status quo.


The Goal: Create Structure, Build a Boundary

This week, build boundaries around your eating routine by sticking to a daily timeframe for breakfast, lunch, dinner, one snack, and one treat (or a second snack). If weight loss is a strong primary goal, it’s important that you monitor your calories within that structured context. A goal of 1200-1600 calories is an appropriate target for moderately active consumers. If your goal is increasing muscle tone, 1600-2000 calories should be your goal.


In addition to mealtime boundaries, create one rule to practice this week that focuses on a personal weakness in healthy eating. Perhaps you feel tempted to snack outside of mealtime, or over consume your caloric need when there are donuts in the office.


In these cases, your personal boundaries would be something like:


“I only have one snack a day, and it will be a piece of fruit that I bring from home.” This boundary prevents any undue snacking that may arise out of temptation. If you are truly hungry, you have an option, but you remove the option of being tempted by chips or other junky fare.


Or!


“I can have one donut for my treat later, but cannot eat donuts at the office. I have to stay out of the donut box while I am here. I will stop on the way home.” This boundary prevents you from over consuming in a stressful or monotonous environment (the office), while leaving the option for balance by leaving the calories for your planned treat that you’ve structured into your caloric intake later on.

 

Keep in mind that boundaries and structure may require multiple attempts to get right. Failure is likely, but forgive yourself and try again the next day. Although demoralizing, failure is only final if you quit. Temporary slip-ups needn’t become total saboteurs to your long-term success; keep trying!