The "no diet" diet
We all know they don't work, but the promise of painless and rapid weight loss gets us every time. That's right, I'm talking about the fad diet. They come in all manner of disguises ranging from the detox program, the celebrity meal replacement shake, and the mythical fat buster pill. Our magazines are choc-a-block with the latest drastic diet that promises to deliver an Angelina Jolie frame (and lips…) all within 2 weeks!
So are you ready to try something different? How about forgetting about dieting, and instead focusing on real food and challenging your habits. And no it's not about losing 10 kilos in 10 days, it's about slowly improving and changing your eating habits and watching your weight and shape change as a result of your actions. Permanent habit change will equal permanent weight loss!
Try these 5 rules of thumb to get yourself on-track with the 'no diet' diet:
- Don't reduce your food volume. If you start to drastically cut down your total food volume each day your body will go into conservation mode, your metabolism will slow and you will sabotage any possible weight loss. Instead get to know and love the foods that have plenty of volume, are full of nutrients, but don't have high energy density (see Rule of Thumb #2 for details).
- Know the energy density of your food. Did you know that fat has over twice the calories/kilojoules of protein and carbohydrate? So if you reduce your daily fat there will be more room for more food - as long as it is healthy, nutritious and not energy dense. Fresh fruit is fat free, nutrient rich and a healthy carb source. Fresh seasonal vegetables are full of vitamins, provide plenty of fibre, and have a very low energy density. Lean meat and fish are full of protein, they fill you up, and again do not have a high energy density!
- Make healthier choices part of your daily life. When you plan your meals, choose your snacks, read a menu or order a coffee, try to find the healthier, less energy dense option. For example a skinny cappuccino beats a full cream latte hands down. This way you can enjoy your coffee and have a small snack such as half an English muffin, and still come out on top.
- Make small changes first. Don't cut out all your favourite treats and foods in one go, but feel confident you can make a small change and succeed. Making huge drastic changes can lead to potential failure as you are not giving your body the chance to adopt the new eating habits you are trying to create. For example this week switch your afternoon chocolate for a piece of fruit, and next week switch your after dinner ice cream for a bowl of yoghurt.
- Track your choices in a food diary. The benefit of a food diary is that it helps you be aware if you made a healthy choice or where you need to improve. It helps you to understand what foods you are actually putting into your body rather than just what you think you are. This gives you the perfect foundation for improving your choices and making healthy long lasting changes.
All it takes is to make simple changes through your day and turn them into a new habit. This way you continue to live your life without feeling like you are being restricted or denied. You still get to enjoy the occasional indulgence, but that is precisely what it becomes - an indulgence.
Written by Dr Naras Lapsys, Nutrition Expert
View more Healthy eating articles