“Lose weight” is a popular New Year resolution. But it somehow conjures up images of feeling deprived, hungry, missing out. No fun. Then that small voice at the back of your mind reminds you that when you return to ‘normal’ eating, the weight will just pile on again, so why bother? Before you give up completely on losing that excess weight, I’d like to offer you three deceptively simple strategies that can help you lose weight without actually dieting.
The first strategy is to increase your awareness of what goes in your mouth. In practical terms, that means that each time you eat you stop, and focus on the food. That means not eating while walking along the street, while driving, while watching TV, using the computer or reading a book.
Why this works: When you focus on what you’re eating, you’ll not only notice the taste and texture, but you’ll be fully aware of the quantity too. Your brain will get a chance to hear your stomach when it says “enough”, so you’ll eat less. This strategy works even better if you can put down your cutlery between mouthfuls.
The second strategy is to know what you’re eating. You may believe that you already have a good diet, but try keeping a blisteringly truthful food diary for a few days. It’s easy to underestimate the quantity and content of what you’re eating until you see it written down.
Why this works: Knowing what you’ve actually eaten puts you back in control of your diet through greater accountability. You can’t fool yourself. You can also start to identify problem patterns of eating, like days when you are more likely to eat fattening foods, and set up strategies to help you change.
The third strategy may surprise you: I’ve lost track of how many times new clients have greeted this prescription with disbelief; then, after they’ve tried it for a couple of weeks, amazement at the difference it’s made – in what they eat, how much they eat, their mood and energy. This key health strategy is to eat a breakfast based on animal protein (like eggs, meat or fish). Such as an omelette, leftover beef stew on toast, or poached egg on baked beans. After a few days of a breakfast like this your mid-morning sugar cravings will diminish, and your mid-afternoon energy slump evaporates.
Why this works: Animal protein is takes far longer to digest than carbohydrates, so it sustains you for longer, keeping your blood glucose and your appetite stable. Your energy, appetite and mood will be more stable, so you will automatically eat less sugar, an ideal strategy for sustainable weight loss.
These strategies may sound too simple, but try them out for a few weeks, and watch what happens to your waistline.