Posted on 12 Jan 2017 Views 9107 Comments 12
If I had a penny for every person who asked me how to lose weight successfully, I would probably be very rich! The problem is, that whilst the actual mechanics of weight loss can be fairly simple (tipping the scales of energy balance in your favour by taking in less energy (calories) and/or expending more energy through exercise to create an energy deficit), losing weight can be a real battle. This is often due to the many factors affecting the situation, including our social support network, psychological issues, motivation, previous dietary habits and lifestyle habits.
This article aims to provide you with some insight and ideas around how to break any unhelpful eating and lifestyle habits you currently have and how to create new ones – some you may not have even thought about. I like the quote by the English writer Samuel Johnson in the 1700s, which says, “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken”. If you’re already following one of our programmes, it’s worth considering this now, to get you ready to make your fresh start once you finish the programme.
In our society, food is often used as a reward; whether it’s only giving your children a sweet dessert if they finish their vegetables, rewarding a hard day’s work with a bottle or wine or takeaway, or rewarding your weight loss with a meal out. You may even be using food as a reward in more subtle ways without thinking. Moving away from food-based rewards and planning alternatives is an important step in breaking the habit. You could include rewards for yourself like a cinema trip, a new book, a new dress. If you have a partner or children, try to sit down as a family and discuss the issue; breaking the habits in children will help them achieve healthier lives later on too.
Many people turn to food for comfort or relief from stress, rather than due to true hunger. If you’re a ‘comfort eater’ or an ‘emotional eater’ you’ll know that it’s not as simple as just avoiding those snacks – when cravings hit, you probably feel powerless to change your actions. There are several differences between emotional eating and true hunger to help you spot this - emotional eating tends to come on more suddenly, craves specific foods or flavours, doesn’t ‘fill you up’ and tends to lead to unhelpful thoughts like guilt. The first step to overcoming comfort eating is to identify your triggers – often it’s things like stress, certain emotions (e.g. loneliness, resentment, anxiety), boredom or childhood habits (or a combination). If you have major issues in this area, seeking counselling would be a logical step forward. Alternatively you could try the following ideas, which may serve as ways to fulfil yourself emotionally.
|Feeling / emotion||Alternatives to try|
|Lonely or depressed||
Skype, phone, text or Facebook message a good friend or family member; someone who always makes you feel good or feel better about yourself or your situation
Looking through your favourite mementos or photo albums
|Anxiety||Taking a brisk walk round the block, changing the environment by moving to another room or doing something with your hands, e.g. cooking or reading|
|Fatigue or exhaustion||Make a cup of tea and have a warm bath with some scented oil or candles|
|Boredom||Do something else, or change your immediate environment; read a book, take a walk, do some physical activity|
This links on well from how to overcome comfort eating. Mindfulness is the practice of living in the moment, becoming more aware of what you’re eating, and taking a pause between your triggers (or feelings) and actions. This technique can work particularly well for people who are emotional / comfort eaters. The following tips may help you:
If one of your habits is regularly having takeaway foods or eating out, this is something to address. There are many resources available to help you choose a healthier takeaway (e.g. choosing tomato based sauces instead of creamy ones, choosing plain rice) – and whilst this may seem to take some of the pleasure away from the experience, it is important to break your habits by not only reducing your frequency of takeaways, but also the types of food you choose. By sticking to the same unhealthy options you love, and eating them less frequently, the habits will likely eventually creep back in and you’ll probably be back to your weekly repertoire before you know it. If you have other family members living with you, consult them and work out a plan that’s suitable for everyone – enlisting family support and making changes together is really important. If your downfall is ordering a regular takeaway due to a busy day, feeling too tired to cook, or have run out of ingredients to cook a healthy meal, meal planning can be a great help, as outlined below. You could also try batch cooking, and having a small supply of pre-made meals in the freezer for those busy days.
Whether you are on a Slim & Save programme, or in the weight maintenance phase, making use of meal plans can really help. They can help you look forward to your meals, as well as making sure you have the right things in the fridge and cupboard to prevent you from having to pop to the local shop and buy something less healthy. Having your weekly meal plan somewhere visual can help too; for example on the fridge, or invest in some chalk and a small blackboard.
Taking up a new hobby can be a good way of getting more active, relieving stress, socialising and feeling better about yourself – you’re less likely to eat unhealthily if you have some planned time outside the home. It goes without saying that your new hobby shouldn’t involve food! Don’t force yourself to do something you wouldn’t usually do or that’s naturally outside of your comfort zone or you will find it hard to keep it going. Find something that fits well with your personality. There are many things to choose from – from being more active (taking up a new sport, running, cycling, or ballroom dancing) to creative hobbies (e.g. watercolour painting, pottery, sewing or knitting) and most hobbies can include as much social interaction as you’re willing to partake in.
Whilst it’s great to have a regular exercise routine – whether it’s a gym session three times a week or an exercise class – consider what other space you can make for being more active. Evenings tend to be the time we like to kick back and relax (often snacking creeps in here as well) – however why not try to break this habit? One idea to help you get more active in the evenings (or another part of your day) is to start by doing short bursts of activity during the ad breaks, e.g.
We hope this article as given you some ideas to try and highlighted areas of your routine which might need to change to help you stay healthier in the long term. Remember that with any new habit, it does take time for new changes to get ingrained into your routines and thought processes and become new habits. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go to plan, but keep going – only through perseverance can real change happen.Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.
It's good to be slim
|In the last||Slim & Save customers have lost|
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Based on the Slim & Save customers who are using the Weight Tracker Application. (Data auto-updated at 5am each day).