How many times have you eaten badly and said, ‘Okay, my diet starts Monday’? I’m sure, too many times. Did you actually manage to lose weight? If you did lose some weight, did you manage to keep it off? Did you enjoy the diet you were on? Well maybe it’s time to ditch the diet altogether.
Most diets that claim to have fast acting results, may result in weight loss, or might not. But almost all of them result in you putting the weight back on (and then some). These diets tend to be restrictive, depriving you of certain foods and can land up giving you unpleasant symptoms such as constipation and headaches. Some result in a lack of nutrients. These diets are usually not sustainable and might make socialising a little more difficult.
It is time to ditch that diet mentality and make a long-term, sustainable lifestyle change. I used to feel guilty whenever I ate something unhealthy, but have never been one for following diet fads. If they truly worked, the whole world would be skinny. For me, I like to take an 80:20 approach when it comes to eating and ideally life. I try to eat healthily most of the time, and I hardly feel guilty when I have pizza or cake. I don’t feel guilty because I know it’s an odd occasion, and one bad meal every now and then doesn’t cause weight gain (it’s the accumulative bad eating that will).
My Top Tips To Lose Weight And Keep It Off:
- Have a meal routine: Aim to maintain consistent meal times whether you’re eating twice or five times a day. It’s important to eat regular meals throughout the day, ideally including breakfast, lunch and dinner. But even if you only eat twice a day, try to stick to similar eating times. I like to have healthy snacks in between meals too. If you don’t have regular meals, you are likely to feel extra hungry throughout the day, make poor meal choices and overeat.
- Control those portions: The key to maintaining or losing weight is to control the amount of food you eat. For weight loss, try to reduce your overall food intake just a little, and fill up on low-calorie healthy foods such as extra veg, salad or fruit. Your plate should be ¼ carbs, ¼ protein (plus a little healthy fat included) and ½ veg.
- Healthy snacking: Snacking is not for everyone, and you don’t have to have these. But I find it is the perfect time to fit in some fruit and extra protein, such as an apple with almond butter or berries and yoghurt. Foods higher in protein and fibre can help keep you fuller for longer. It can also help to prevent sugar cravings. For me, having a snack keeps my energy levels more stable and I’m less hungry at main meals times which helps me to make better meal choices and not overeat.
- Think about your drinks: Staying well hydrated is important to help prevent overeating. I find, having a glass of water before a meal really helps prevent me from eating too much food. Drinks that contain lots of sugar (even if the calories aren’t high) are all counting towards your total intake and often have little nutritional value. So try to stick to water, tea and the occasional coffee. You can make your water taste more interesting by adding lemon, cucumber, mint or strawberries to it.
- Think low fat, healthy fat: Fat is fat, no matter the type when it comes to calories and weight. BUT some fat is needed and is important, so don’t cut it out. Make sure the fat you choose is healthy, such as fatty fish (like salmon), nuts and seeds, avocado and olives to name a few. Try to avoid the unhealthy fats often found in processed foods. Although it is important to have some healthy fats, try to keep this to a minimum for weight loss. Eating whole handfuls of nuts or loads of avocado will make weight loss more tricky.
- Don’t forget your 5 day: In the UK and most countries, you should aim for a minimum of 5 fruit and veg every day (1). But ideally you should be having much more than that. Fruit and veg are highly nutritious and also high in fibre, which is not only important for gut health, but helps to keep you fuller for longer, and can help prevent overeating. It is also very low in calories.
- Be Food Focused: when you are eating, this should be time for just you and your food. Think of it as a date night. No distractions from the TV or reading, or sending emails. This is your time to have a good relationship with what you are eating and enjoy and savour every bite.
- Know your labels: It may seem boring or time-consuming, but it’s important to check the food labels of the foods you buy. Checking food labels helps you know what foods are high or low in calories, fats, protein, sugars, salt and fibre. It also makes you aware of what ingredients are added to foods. Generally, the fewer ingredients listed on a product the better (depending on the ingredient). Look out for things like palm oil, trans fats and loads of artificial preservatives. You may also realise that the food you are looking at could easily be made from scratch in a healthier way.
- Be active: Being active and exercise is probably obvious, but being active is important for weight loss, weight maintenance and in general, to be more healthy. You don’t have to overdo it, but even going for a planned brisk walk daily will help. Also make sure to stand regularly throughout the day, especially if your day involves a lot of sitting.
The Final Word
Don’t make yourself suffer by trying out fad diets that make life stressful and difficult and won’t work out in the long run. Choose to make a long-term lifestyle change which is not only healthier, but also sustainable. This way, you can enjoy some naughty but nice foods every now and then without feeling guilty. It is important to have a good relationship with food and find your healthy!