5 fool-proof steps to breaking bad diet habits
Permanent weight loss is the ‘holy graal’ and the rather depressing statistic is that approximately 80% of people who have been on a diet regain their weight, if not more within 2 years. Why is this? The main problem is that we need to make permanent changes to our dietary habits if we are going to have any chance of keeping the weight off. If we simply go back to eating like we ate before dieting, then the weight will start to pile on again. Losing weight is 40% of the battle, 60% of the battle is then keeping it off…….
So how can you be in the magic 20% of people, who manage to lose their weight for good? How can we develop long term healthy eating habits to keep us healthy, fit and strong?
These are the 5 fool proof steps to breaking bad diet habits:
Try not to ‘eat’ your emotions
In this highly obesogenic environment, it’s very easy to reach for food, not necessarily because we are hungry, but because we are tired, stressed or fed up. Modern life can be very stressful and while we cannot not always control the stress we are under, we can change how we respond to it – reaching for a bar of chocolate is not the answer! Feeling ravenous and about to hit the processed food? The trick here is to try the ‘Stop – one minute rule’. Tell yourself that just for one minute you are going to do absolutely nothing apart from check in mentally and see how you are feeling. Are you really hungry (in which case go for a healthy snack such as fruit and nuts) or are you feeling some other emotion? Identify the emotion and find a non related food alternative such as going for a walk or calling a friend.
Lose the ‘I’ve blown it now mentality’ and ‘I’m going to start my diet tomorrow, next week/month’
Just because you have eaten 1 biscuit, does not mean you have to finish the packet and then have some chocolate too! Having one biscuit/unhealthy snack is really not the end of world. If you look at naturally slim people, they have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude – they can have a slice of cake without fantasizing all day about devouring the rest of it. Tell yourself that you can always have some more later or the next day and walk away with your head held high!
Lose the ‘restrictive’ attitude
Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of all your favourite foods. It’s about selecting foods which help to keep you looking and feeling great. There’s nothing that you can’t eat and so many foods which you can enjoy. Experiment with new recipes and vary your diet as much as possible. Bored of salads? Try steamed fish in an Asian style dressing with stir fried vegetables. Need comfort food? How about a bowl of chunky vegetable and bean soup. Healthy food can and should be colourful, tasty and delicious!
Mindful eating is being aware of what you are eating and when you are eating it. This allows the brain to register that you are enjoying a meal and can help you in managing hunger signals. Did you know that it takes 30 minutes for the neurotransmitters in your digestive tract to tell the brain that you’ve eaten enough?!
Put your food on a plate, make it look ‘pretty’ and try to avoid any distractions while you are eating. Take the time to really savour and enjoy your meals and you will be amazed at how much more satisfied you feel after eating.
Plan your meals
This doesn’t have to be either too rigid or inflexible but for healthy eating it is important to have some idea of what you are going to eat at each meal. Lacking of planning makes it easier to reach for junk food. There’s nothing worse than coming home starving after a long day at work and finding nothing to eat in the cupboards! Bags of salad leaves are ‘healthy’ fast food, add some quick protein in the form of tinned fish and a slice of whole wheat bread and you’ve got a balanced meal prepared within 5 minutes! Nuts and fruit are a perfect snack when you are out and about and a much better option than a muffin or biscuit.
These 5 fool proof steps are really key to breaking bad diet habits. If you can follow them, then I guarantee that you will be able to manage your weight on a long term and permanent basis. Go on, you can do it!