The secret to weight loss? Stop dieting!
Why don’t diets work?
As a registered dietitian I have worked with a wide range of people to achieve their health goals. Whether they are looking to improving their sporting performance, reduce their cholesterol levels or lose weight, one thing I have learnt is that diets do not work. At least not in the long term, but why?
Paleo, 5:2, blood type, cabbage soup……the list of diets is never ending! Each approach comes with clever marketing aiming to trick people into thinking that this is finally the magic bullet. The reality is that they all work in the same way – by reducing how many calories you eat. Weight loss is the result of eating less calories than are burnt off – it is no secret! However, what all these diets have in common is cutting out or limiting certain foods. This may be ok for a few days, a few weeks even, but eventually the cravings or boredom will kick in and a ‘cheat meal’ will become a ‘cheat day’ and people will give up and regain the weight. Sound familiar?
Then how do I lose weight?
The secret to losing weight, and not regaining it, is to get out of this vicious diet cycle and mindset. So let’s ditch the word diet and start thinking about a healthy lifestyle – an approach that can be followed for life instead of a few weeks.
What a healthy lifestyle involves:
So I can eat what I want?
For weight loss, we still need to achieve a ‘negative energy balance’. This means we need to eat fewer calories than we burn off. Eating too much of anything, even ‘healthy’ foods, is not good for us. A healthy balanced diet should include a wide variety of foods- including those that may not provide much nutrition, but are tasty and to be enjoyed!
The magic secrets?
1. Moderation! By giving yourself permission to enjoy all foods, you will be less likely to over indulge.
2. Discover foods that you enjoy – you don’t need to survive on ‘rabbit food’. There are so many delicious and healthy foods out there – be adventurous!
3. Live by the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time choose ‘healthy foods’ (such as wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and lean protein sources) and the other 20% of the time, enjoy other foods you enjoy but aren’t essential (such as foods high in sugar and fat).
Over the next few months, I will be sharing my top tips of how to live a healthy lifestyle and busting the many myths about weight loss you may be confused about. Next month, I will give more details about what foods should make up the 80% part of a healthy lifestyle and advice on how to balance your meals so you can achieve weight loss without feeling deprived or hungry!
by Fiona Kinnear
Fiona is a HCPC registered dietitian and is passionate about helping people to make lifelong, enjoyable lifestyle changes and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Her qualifications include BSc (Hons) Sport science, Physiology and Nutrition, MSc Dietetics & Level 2 gym instructor and she is currently undertaking a PhD in nutrition and exercise.