A Dietitian's Top Tips for Losing Weight (Part 2 of 3)
11. Try to lose weight only when YOU feel that are ready to make the changes, because losing weight requires willpower and motivation. If you have other priorities which make losing weight not very important at present, then maybe you are not quite ready.
If you are are at the right time to lose weight, try writing down specifically why you want to lose weight (motivators), what goal(s) you want to achieve (e.g. weight goal/ run 5 or 10km/ improve diabetes markers HbA1c), and what changes you are going to make to achieve your goal(s), also tell yourself and to others out aloud that you are going to do it, then you are much more likely to stick to it.
However, if you do not stick to your plan 100%, do not punish yourself or feel bad, instead allow for occasional hiccups or relapses where you may deviate from your plan. It is also a good idea to review your plan and decide if it is realistic enough?
12. Don't Diet (unless there is a clinical reason to do so). “Going on a diet” for most people means significant calorie restriction, cutting out all “bad” foods or consuming slimming drinks or slimming meals for a specific length of time, this type of dieting often leads to YO-YO dieting where weight may drop off easily and quickly and when the diet is completed causes weight regain back to initial starting weight pre-diet plus a little more. The key here is making key diet and lifestyle choices that you feel YOU are able to continue with life-long, no matter how small they are. Focus on goals which are achievable and realistic instead of putting yourself on a diet which also has an end date. Diet and lifestyles choices can be made life long.
13. Slow down at meal times. It takes around 20 minutes for the body signals to recognise fullness and satiety. If you have finished your meal and find yourself immediately going for a second helping or a dessert, wait for 20 minutes so that the body has time to respond to the signals of fullness and satiety.
TIPS: While eating chew your food well, put down your knife and fork or spoon each time your mouth is full before preparing the next mouthful, avoid distractions like TV and work, as being undistracted make you more mindful about how much you are eating and is more likely to prevent overeating.
14. Record your food and activity. This can be a real eye opener or motivator for some people and help to identify what you can work on, or improve for diet and lifestyle. Include the following information and be completely honest with yourself:
The time, description of food and drinks (water, juice, fizzy drinks, alcohol etc), quantity consumed (grams, mls, 1 glass, 1 bowl, the number of handfuls etc), physical activity (what it was, time taken, activity level- if appropriate), mood before and after the food/drink consumed, where appropriate) this can be recorded on paper, your computer or using an appropriate web or mobile app.
15. Eat more plants. Plant foods are those from fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses, lentils, legumes, nuts, and seeds. There is scientific evidence that a switching to a pant based diet or simply eating more plants will increase your chances for losing weight.
You can use fresh, frozen, tinned, dried, as well as fresh. If you use fresh fruits or vegetables try to use them within a couple of days when they are at their optimum for vitamins, minerals and flavour. Add more flavour with ingredients you like; onion, garlic, pepper, chilli, paprika, cumin, turmeric, ginger, basil etc. You don’t necessarily need to buy or grown your own herbs and spices; you can simply buy your favourite small pots of dried grounded essentials that last a very long time.There are thousands of easy recipes online that you can find and may inspire you! Eating a more plant based diet also leads to a lower calorie and fat consumption, the meal goes further and saves you money - win win!
The definition "Plant based diets" are those which mostly, or entirely consists of plants and includes vegetarian diets as well as vegan diets. Vegan diets which completely exclude meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy can tend be low in calcium, iron, vitamin B12, iodine, omega 3 and selenium therefore will require supplementation.
16. Make your own convenience meals. Pre-prepare nutritious meals in batches and stock in the freezer so that it can be quick and convenient without all the fuss of preparing a healthy meal when you are really hungry or simply don’t have time to make lunch. It is a great idea to freeze in individual or family portions (depending on how many people you are) in reusable containers or bags. Label each meal with the type of meal and the date it was cooked, and be sure to use within 3 months. Make sure to add lots of vegetables, beans, pulses, lentils to bulk out the meal. Allow around 24 hour defrosting time in the fridge, check the meal has fully thawed and heat up throughly before consuming. Do not re-freeze once defrosted, and do not reheat the defrosted meal a second time round.
17. Cut out added sugar. Sugar is present naturally in a lot of our foods and beverages. Additional sugar is nothing more than “empty calories” and does not give us any nutritional benefit. Try gradually cutting down, or cut out added sugar all together (depending on your preferred approach) and aim to limit one sugary food or drink as a weekly treat. Be mindful of the portion though.
Looking at food labels:
From the ingredients list, sugar may identified by: the name ending in -ose (fructose, sucrose, dextrose, glucose etc), syrup, sugar, honey, treacle, molasses.
From the nutritional information table you are able to compare sugar content from the"Carbohydrates - of which sugars" per 100g.
A low sugar food contains less than 5g per 100g of sugar,
a low sugar drink contains less than 2.5g per 100ml of sugar
A high sugar food contains more than 22.5g per 100g of sugar,
a high sugar drink contains more than 11.25g per 100ml of sugar.
TIPS: -dilute fruit juices by using 1 part juice to 4 parts water
-add lemon and mint to icy water to give more flavour
- a“fruit juice drink” is usually fruit juice plus added sugar and possibly also added colours and flavourings whereas "100% juice", or "fruit from concentrate" is a better option without the added sugars
- fizzy drinks with 0 calories will not contribute to weight gain however sweeteners in these drinks may increase appetite therefore you could try carbonated water instead.
More info on sugars can be found on these 2 websites: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/sugar.html and https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/sugar-salt-and-fat/names-for-sugar-infographic
18. Make low GI (glycaemic index) meal choices. The glycaemic index of a food item is ranking system from 0 to 100 and relates to how quickly foods and drinks make your blood glucose levels rise after consuming them. Pure glucose (table sugar) is ranked at 100 as it is easily and quickly digested and absorbed into the blood stream and therefore, raises blood glucose level rapidly. Low GI foods are those ranked 55 or below, these are more slowly digested and help to stabilise blood glucose level in your body. Choosing low GI meal choices are particularly beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes and for those wanting to lose weight because they better stabilise blood glucose and energy level throughout the day. Tips for lowering GI of a meal include: keeping skins on potatoes and vegetables, cooking pasta al dente, choosing wholemeal or wholegrain carbohydrates, choose porridge, muesli or wholegrain cereals with no added sugars. It is important however to look at the bigger picture of the meal to determine the GI, because a low GI item, such as porridge oats mixed with a high GI item, such as honey will lead to a medium/high GI therefore porridge with low GI fruit like a handful of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries is a better option. Bear in mind though, that low GI does not necessarily mean low fat, low salt or low in calories, and be mindful of potion size because large portions can also lead to high calorie intake and spikes in blood glucose. More information can be found on the diabetes uk website: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/carbohydrates-and-diabetes/glycaemic-index-and-diabetes
19. Have a strong support network. Let family and friends know you are making diet and lifestyle changes to lose weight. Tell them SPECIFICALLY how they can help YOU. Perhaps you need your spouse to hide away certain snacks or treats, or encourage your family to have more fruit and vegetables bought into the house from the weekly grocery shop. Where possible, it is a great idea to have the family to sit together at meal times without distractions to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices for the while family. Ask a friend or family member to exercise or play sport with you on a regular basis as it can be a great motivator, not only do you feel obligated to commit, you are more likely to enjoy the activity more with some company. If you prefer to exercise on your own, then setting up a playlist of your favourite songs or motivating exercise tracks can help to keep your energy going and decide what, when, for how long and how often you will do the physical activity. It also ensures that you have the time set aside specifically for the activity, so that you are more likely to stick to it.
20. Have a healthy attitude towards a balanced diet and lifestyle. Understanding that making these positive changes is not only going to help you to lose weight, lower your BMI or help you to fit in your old clothes; there is scientific evidence that losing weight reduces your LDL and total cholesterol, improves HbA1c (if you are diabetic), reduces hypertension, improves sleep, reduces joint inflammation and back pain, improves confidence and mood, increases energy. Therefore these changes are more than just going on a diet; it is about making healthy diet and lifestyle choices and allowing yourself to enjoy them life-long. Also, not allowing yourself to get into the trap of believing that healthy food is boring and unsociable, or that physical activity is a chore, or believing that you cannot go out for lunch or afternoon tea with friends because you are on a diet. A healthy lifelong positive attitude about diet & lifestyle, and making healthy lifestyle choices that will work for YOU is going to go a long way....
If you are overweight or obese and find that losing weight is a challenge, you may benefit from professional expert support from a registered dietitian.
Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.
Please contact me by email or phone if you would like to discuss an online consultation or weight loss package tailored to suit you. Information on how to do this is on my homepage.