How To Diet Right!
In my last blog we looked at extreme diets and fad diets and why they don’t work. Now we’re looking at how to lose weight safely, realistically and in a sustainable way. I know we are all very impatient for a quick weight loss, but unfortunately, there is no quick long-term fix. Losing weight takes time and should be a long-term goal. A weight loss of 1-2lbs a week is what to aim for as this is easy to achieve, sustainable and you are less likely to regain the weight! Just think, in 3 months you can lose between 12 and 24lbs. Wow what an achievement. That’s so much better than losing 10lbs in 10 days and putting it all back on and more, over and over again, leading to feelings of self-disgust and failure! Who wants that? A lot of diets hark back to the 80s when everything leaned towards low fat and cutting out certain foods with ‘diet’ being the buzz word. Fat in certain foods was replaced with sugar, so although weight loss might have been achieved, this certainly wasn’t healthy or sustainable. It’s not a great way to think about food, saying that you are ‘going on a diet’. A much better way is to say that you follow a healthy eating plan 😊
How do we do it right though? How can we still eat the foods that we enjoy, not cut out certain food groups and still lose weight?
Follow the tips below to find your own healthy eating plan:
How to diet right!
1) Set realistic goals. Don’t aim for big, drastic changes that seem totally unachievable. Start with small goals that are easily achievable and then move on to another small goal. All these small goals will eventually lead to your overall goal but remember you can’t step to the top of the ladder without climbing the rungs first!
2) Focus on overall well-being. It’s easy to focus only on weight loss, and to lose sight of your overall well-being. Instead of obsessing on weight loss only, concentrate on improving your overall health. This could include getting regular exercise, improving your strength and fitness levels, managing stress, drinking enough water, eating healthily and getting enough sleep.
3) Avoid extreme diets. I talked about these in my last blog, and we now know that these don’t work due to too low calories, unsustainability, metabolic slowdown, loss of muscle mass, lack of nutrients, impact on mental well-being leading to feelings of guilt or disordered eating problems, temporary results before regaining the weight (and often more) and often lead to binge eating.
4) Focus on balanced, nutrient dense meals. Include a good mix of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to make sure that you are getting the right nutrients. Try to include protein at every meal as your body needs this to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. Protein will also keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try not to leave too long between meals as this is when you become too hungry and snack on high fat and high calorie foods.
5) Watch portion sizes. It’s important watch your portion sizes when trying to lose weight/fat because this helps to control your calorie intake. Consistently consuming larger portions can lead to excess calorie intake, potentially hindering weight loss or promoting weight gain. Portion sizes have increased over the years, from larger serving sizes in restaurants to the increased availability of processed foods, and marketing has greatly influenced this trend.
6) Practice mindful eating. Pay attention to what you are eating and how much you are eating, eat slowly, savour your food and stop before you feel full. We eat food because we like the taste of it, so make sure that you are enjoying it as you eat and not just mindlessly eating. Recognise your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Ask yourself if you are hungry before you eat.
7) Try planning and meal prepping. Plan and prepare your meals beforehand if you can, to avoid last-minute unhealthy choices or stopping off at the takeaway on the way home. It’s a good idea to make a list of what you’re eating for the following week and to shop in advance for it. I find that I’m less likely to look for convenience foods or takeaways if I already have food in to prepare. I have used Hello Fresh in the past which delivers ingredients and recipes to your door, and I love having everything that I need to hand, so I do this now (without the help of Hello Fresh), making sure that I buy all that I need for the following week. This means that if I’m having a takeaway, it’s because it’s planned into my week. If you’re making pastas, casseroles, chillis, curries or stews, it’s a good idea to make twice as much as you need and to freeze the rest so that you always have a healthy meal which can be prepared quickly, for those unexpected times that you are caught short! 😊
8) Include healthy snacks. Buy or make healthy snacks to keep in the house. I find that if I don’t keep chocolate and crisps in the house, I’m not tempted to snack on them. I tend to save them for if I’m out and fancy them or I’ll buy them to eat at a specific time. I enjoy them much more because I’m not eating them every day. Also, if you fancy a snack, try adding a healthy snack on to the end of a meal as this can help to stabilise blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy. It also prevents overeating as you’ve just eaten your meal, satisfies cravings and can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer as well as reducing the risk of you reaching for a less healthy snack later.
9) Make sure that you eat enough. One of the most common things to do is to cut down on food and calories in the hope that this will lead to a quicker weight loss. When the body doesn’t receive enough calories, the metabolism slows down to conserve energy. This means that the body becomes more efficient at storing calories as fat, making it much harder to lose weight. Too few calories can also lead to nutritional deficiencies, causing the body to prioritise storing any available calories as fat for future energy needs. This can disrupt the balance of hormones related to metabolism and appetite regulation.
10) Eat food that you enjoy! This is so important when trying to lose weight. It’s so easy to think that you should be eating a certain food but if you don’t enjoy something, eat something that you do enjoy instead even if it means having a little less of it. The same applies to food that you think you need to cut out (you don’t!). It will only make you feel dissatisfied because you’re missing out on something that you enjoy, and this can lead to binge eating! There are no ‘bad’ foods. There are foods that are less nutritious and can contribute to health issues if eaten in excess, which is why it is essential to maintain a balanced diet. Simply moderate your intake of processed foods with added sugars and saturated fat.
11) Find exercise that you enjoy. Exercise helps to control body weight by burning calories and promoting a healthy balance between energy intake and expenditure. Engage in exercises or activities you enjoy as you are more likely to keep doing them. It could be dancing, walking, swimming, or any other activity that brings you joy. Incorporate regular exercise into your weekly lifestyle so that it becomes a habit that you look forward to.
12) Make sure that you have support. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Consider joining a fitness class or a support group where you can share your challenges and successes or joining WhatsApp or Facebook groups with like-minded people.
13) Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, at least 2 to 3 litres. Feelings of hunger can be confused with being thirsty. A glass of water before a meal can promote a feeling of fullness helping you not to overeat. Drinking water boosts the metabolism and helps the body to break down fat and support proper digestion.
14) Be patient. It takes time to see results. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see changes immediately. Just stay consistent, and you will see progress. If you miss a workout or eat more food one day, don’t write it off as failure. If you fall over, you don’t stay down on the floor, you get up and keep walking to complete your journey and this is just the same!
For sustainable and healthy weight loss, it’s essential to focus on balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and making gradual, realistic changes to your lifestyle. Consulting a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide personalised guidance tailored to your specific needs.
Be kind to yourself and focus on what you can do and the changes that you can make, rather than what you can’t do and can’t change. Criticising yourself doesn’t work so try approving of yourself and see what happens 😊 Remember, as F.M. Alexander said ‘people do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures’, so make your future a healthy, fit and strong one 😊
Caroline & Hannah xx