How many times have you been promised an easy, simple and effortless way to lose weight? All you have to do is count points, drop carbs or go paleo and like magic all your weight loss problems will be resolve. Just sign up here to this programme, pay so much per week and everything will be fine. Trust me.
So how come you are still overweight? Because this doesn’t work. Diets, whether they are based on calorie counting, pointing or syns rely on restricting your diet in some way, and having the willpower to maintain that for a long time. This works for a while, but then it becomes hard to hold at bay those habits and beliefs that we have had for so long, that sabotage our best efforts. Diets are an external change, they do nothing to tackle our deep rooted beliefs, patterns and behaviours that inform our food choices and eating habits. After a week or maybe a few months we slip back into our old ways, and put back the weight we lost.
Add in to this what happens to our bodies when we restrict calories. Our bodies see dieting as a stressor, and produces high levels of stress hormones; cortisol and adrenaline. This causes our body to slow down the rate of calorie burn, intentionally slowing down our weight loss to maintain energy reserves.
Not to mention that diets are boring, tedious and just not fun. There is a long list of ‘no-go’ foods that are ‘bad’ and a not so long list of so called ‘good’ foods. This leads to a sense of tension around food, a feeling of being hard done by. When certain foods are forbidden, their value increases and we desire them more. We end up feeling deprived, craving these foods and then suffering guilt when we give in and eat them. All this does is create even more stress, making it more likely that we will not lose weight, and will revert back into our previous bad habits to relieve the tension. We blame ourselves, when really it is the diet that has failed us.
Challenging your own beliefs and behaviours around foods can be a liberating experience. Not only could you start to lose weight effortlessly as you learn to recognize when you are hungry and when you are full, but you will also begin to enjoy eating food that tastes great and makes you feel good. Diet clubs seek to teach you this by educating you around what to eat. What is missing is tackling the underlying beliefs that influence your eating behaviours.
The way forward is to start to think and eat like a ‘naturally’ slim person. ‘Naturally slim’ people stop eating when they are full enough, know that hunger is not an emergency. They are creatures of habit; eating similar foods and exercising regularly, and mostly make healthy choices most of the time. They do not restrict their diets, do not skip meals or over exercise and they do not have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days.
Here are four simple changes that you can do to start thinking and eating like a slim person.
- Learn to leave food on your plate. Eat slowly and without distractions such as the TV, and put your knife and fork down regularly during the meal. Take a moment to think about how full you are getting. When you get to comfortably full, take your plate away, even if there is food left on it. As time goes by, start to think about how much food you actually need on your plate, and adjust your portion sizes accordingly.
- Don’t be afraid of hunger. You do not have to eat just in case you might be hungry later. Hunger is not a state of emergency, it is merely a biological state and as long as you have no underlying medical condition, you can feel hunger, real belly rumbling hunger, with no side effects. What’s more, food tastes so much better when you are hungry as you are more aware of what you are eating. You can last until the next meal; after all you don’t wake up in the night to eat.
- Stop feeling guilty or ashamed about food. Slim people are not perfect, they make mistakes. However, they then move on. So they ate a slice cake this morning when perhaps an apple would have been a better choice. They trust themselves to make a better choice next time. They don’t think in terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days, they simply eat, making mostly healthy choices and listen to what their body needs.
- Drop the endless rules around what, where and when you can eat. No carbs unless you have exercised, don’t eat after 7pm, eat six meals a day or fast twice a week. To a slim person these seem bizarre. They think about what feels good; so maybe a little chocolate is good, but more makes them feel sluggish. The day is easier if they have breakfast. They function better in the afternoons if lunch isn’t too heavy. These aren’t rules, they are just the ways they have learned to feel good around food.
Change can be daunting, so why not try to make one small change at a time. Begin with something you know you can achieve and then watch your confidence grow.