Suggestions from a nutritionist.
We have all heard of fad diets that make crazy claims for fast weight loss or health improvements and are popular for a short time. Moreover, they may require the purchase of super expensive meal replacements such as weight loss bars and protein shakes. Additionally, some require eating one type of food, like cabbage soup or only drink juice.
Some dietary restrictions are essential as you get older and are essential to health and disease management. For example, low sodium is beneficial in reducing or preventing swelling in our bodies’ lower extremities and reduces the risks of developing kidney stones and osteoporosis.
Many nutrition professionals will claim to know the “one-size-fits-all” solution to help you reach the loses and gains you desire. However, unless you have significant health issues, I don’t believe there is one diet plan for everyone. As a matter of fact, we all have food preferences, foods we don’t like, and foods that give us an adverse reaction like bloating, cramping, or “bathroom issues.” Still there are dietary plans that may very well suit you and your lifestyle.
Start with past
The best place to kickstart any lifestyle change is to start with the past. If you have attempted changes, reflect on what worked work and what did not. What most people discover is quick fixes can work; however, it is in maintenance that they fail. Usually, because the dietary plan was too harsh and brutal, and like most people, your eating plans become inconsistent and fail because of binge eating or having those cheat days.
Successful dietary changes should work for both your mind and body. However, many people don’t think about their food and emotions relationship. If you want it to work try a different method of losing weight. Creating a successful change requires a mindful approach and understanding common triggers for unhealthy eating.
Many people struggle with their weight; we don’t pay attention to what we are eating; specifically we rush and don’t take time to savor. Instead, we often eat on autopilot, rushing throughout meals and not listening to our bodies.
Mindful eating is about slowing down, engaging the senses, and enjoying every bite. Take time to pay attention to texture, flavor, and smells. Check in with your body and notice what it feels like to be satisfied. Not full, just satisfied.
It can be challenging to resist reaching for your phone or the remote while you eat. However, being distracted while eating will probably lead to overeating and guilt about food.
Clients and their homework
With my clients, we would discuss taking at least 20 minutes to eat. Their homework was to time a regular meal and see how fast they ate. Almost every time, my clients would come back and tell me they were done in under 10 minutes.
Once my clients became aware of their eating habits, we tried other methods to slow them down;
- Try eating with a non-dominant hand.
- Use chopsticks if you don’t usually use them.
- Take small bites and put fork down while chewing.
Eating mindfully and slowing down can promote better digestion, feeling fuller sooner, and eating less food. Mindful eating is much like working out; every little bit counts. There is much more to mindful eating, like fully exploring your relationship with food, paying attention to your physical and emotional feelings after eating, etc.
If you want to know more about mindful eating, check out these great articles;
Staying healthy. Mindful eating. (Harvard Health)
Mindful Eating. How to really enjoy your meal. (Psychology Today)
I think this is one of the easiest ways to focus on losing weight. Like many diet-whisperers, I like to talk about this practical approach when starting on food management…in fact, it is also one of the tools I use if I see that scale creeping up. Anyhow, a simple tool to use is your hand. Hands correspond to your body size; bigger people have bigger hands. Women and men require different amounts. Check out my article on Easiest Way to Attack Nutrition for a detail of using your hand to easily figure out portions size.
Stay away from any diet that claims “fast results,”; a one-size-fits-all approach and is super restrictive and doesn’t offer nutrients that your body needs. As a result, they offer quick weight loss, which probably causes health issues, and doesn’t offer any sustainability after the diet.
In summary, look for healthy eating plans that focus on vegetables, lean meats, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy grains. And make sure your diet plan is sustainable and creates a healthy relationship with food. Having a love-hate relationship with food is exhausting and sucks!