Weight loss and weight management requires the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. In order to be effective; a long term commitment must be made to following a healthy diet, healthy food habits and to keep active. Just as important is that you can enjoy this lifestyle!
Reflect, replace, reinforce.
When embarking on a journey towards a healthier diet and weight loss, the Centres for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) suggest that we should begin by:
Reflecting – This involves taking some time to think about your diet and eating patterns. For instance, the types of food you eat, the quantities you eat and what triggers you to eat. It may help if you write down what foods you normally consume or if you record your diet over a couple of days – this can sometimes make areas for change obvious as you may not previously have acknowledged how much you were eating in a day or that you were eating a lot of processed food. Honesty is important here by recording everything you eat and not cutting back whilst keeping the diary.
Replace – After pinpointing some areas for change, you can then replace the “bad” habits with healthier ones. This is one area where a dietitian can be beneficial as it can sometimes be tough to see the areas that need changing to encourage weight loss, many little things may not even cross your mind. An effective, sustainable plan for change can be developed with your dietitian – one that will ensure it does not overwhelm you as a gradual, realistic approach to weight loss is important.
Reinforce – this means reinforcing your new healthy habits. If you have a bad day, choose to focus on your triumphs and success so far instead of the unhealthy food you may have just eaten too much of. Everyone is likely to have a “bad” day so it is important to prepare for these so you do not get discouraged and give in. It is also important to remember that whilst making an unhealthy food choice will not help with weight loss, it will also not be responsible for making you gain a lot of weight all at once – however if you get discouraged and maintain eating poorly, you will.
Remember that you CAN do it; it just takes time to form new habits. Perhaps ask yourself some questions about what just happened e.g. why did I just eat so much chocolate? How can I change this and avoid it happening again? Then reflect on the positive changes you have made.
Eating habits to look out for
For successful weight loss, sometimes you need to change the way you are eating too. The following habits can encourage weight gain:
Eating too quickly – Slowing down the rate at which you eat will give your body more time to register that it is satisfied and hence will reduce over eating.
Not listening to your body – It is important to pay attention to your body’s cues. If you are genuinely hungry, you will feel it, the same as if you have had enough to eat. Many people eat when they are “hungry” but in actual fact, they just desire the food.
Skipping meals – This can actually lead to more weight gain than if you eat regular meals. Skipping a meal hinders weight loss by slowing down your metabolic rate as your body goes in to starvation mode and burns calories at a much slower rate than it normally would.
Eating in front of the TV – this goes for video games too or any other activity that takes your focus off eating. Your attention is not on the quantity of what you are consuming and how full you are so an individual can wind up mindlessly eating a lot of food.
Emotional eating – This is very common. It is important to recognise times that you want to eat due to boredom, stress, tiredness or feeling upset and take other measures to counteract this e.g. going for a walk, talking to a friend – whatever works for you.
Giving in to temptation – Do you frequently have to pass takeaway stores, vending machines or does your work mate always bake treats? Unfortunately, some control is required for this one. An occasional treat is ok but as everyday activities, these things will really add to your energy intake! Pack your own, healthy snacks and avoid passing by food that will tempt you. The less of a food you eat (such as chocolate and takeaway), the less the cravings will be and it will be easier to turn down.
Eating for weight loss and health
Aim to make healthy food choices with lots of variety from all of the five food groups. A dietitian can go through your diet in detail and provide you with specific strategies and guidance, suited to you. The following dot points provide general tips for making healthy choices and aiding in weight loss:
Eat 5 serves of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit per day – you can use these to fill up on, thereby reducing the portion size of higher energy foods.
Incorporate wholegrain breads and cereals
Choose reduced fat dairy products
Choose lean meats and trim any visible fat off
Use minimal amounts of oil in cooking and use healthy fats such as canola and olive oil
Drink plenty of water and limit high energy drinks e.g. alcohol, soft drink, juice, cordial
Limit foods high in fat, sugar and salt e.g. chocolate, chips, ice cream and pastries
Be careful of your portion sizes. Reducing your serving sizes may be necessary to induce weight loss
Do not be discouraged!
This is a crucial part of weight loss. It can be hard but you need to overcome any slip ups along the way and continue to be motivated. Every 1kg of fat you lose is actually a significant amount and should be something to celebrate, despite how long it took. The picture below demonstrates what 1kg of fat looks like (on the left) compared to 1kg of muscle.
If you are increasing your exercise level or trying new exercises, muscle will likely be gained and therefore may skew the results on the weight scales – keep this in mind when you weigh yourself so you don’t get disheartened! Other good ways to assess weight loss is to see if your clothing is becoming any looser or to measure your waist circumference and see if that has decreased, despite your weight on the scales remaining the same.
Weight loss should not be a quick process. It took time to put the weight on and it will take time to lose it all. Gradual weight loss will be more sustainable and healthier in the long term than crash dieting.
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin, who is a Nutritionist, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia member.
Lose weight with the help of a real dietitian
There are many more strategies a dietitian can offer for weight loss. Our dietitians have created comprehensive diet and nutrition resources, that together with a consultation, can be used to create a customised dietary plan. We will ensure that your dietary requirements are met, and create a meal plan that will be manageable and enjoyable for all the family. Remember healthy habits can start today! For more information on how to combat your unhealthy eating habits or for advice on changes you can make to your diet for weight loss, make an appointment to see one of our dietitians.
Resources for further information: