Dieting is like holding your breath. It’s uncomfortable right from the start and most people can’t do it for very long. Hence, I seldom recommend dieting as the best approach for weight loss because there’s always a better, healthier way.
All change is first initiated in the mind. In order to enjoy the process of losing weight, and successful weight maintenance, the first and foremost step to take is to:
1. Abandon the dieter’s mindset
A dieting mindset is the exact opposite of the mindset needed for effortless weight loss. Here’s why:
Diets are based on restriction. In one way or another, they dictate the foods we can’t eat and limit the foods we can. This restrictive thinking triggers a sense of deprivation and like the typical ‘forbidden fruit’ scenario, we immediately begin focusing on and desiring the food we can’t have rather than the food we can.
A more conducive mindset is one that eliminates the list of rules and restrictions that are characteristic of diets and instead focuses on what positive changes we can and are willing to work toward.
For instance, instead of telling yourself that sweets are off limits (which only makes you desire them more) try changing your approach. Tell yourself you can have them, but challenge yourself to wait until the following day. When the time arrives, further challenge yourself to have only one serving.
You’ll discover that deprivation is not a prerequisite of successful weight loss. Quite the contrary! Planned indulgences –– in moderation –– are satisfying, and allowing for such leniency is a sustainable approach to weight loss. It’s better and a healthier approach than dietary restriction.
2. When eating meals, stop eating once your body (not your taste buds) has had enough
When eating we must learn to recognize the cues of physiologic satisfaction and to discipline ourselves to end meals at that point. Practice paying attention to the signals your body sends when it’s satisfied and doesn’t need more food! These indicators include the absence of hunger, a sense of pressure or fullness in the gut, and a decreased sense of taste.
These signs are hormonally induced and are our body’s way of communicating the message that it has received sufficient nutrition. It's at this point that we need to stop eating. We gain weight when we eat beyond our body’s needs, so habitually overeating is a habit we must break.
3. Don’t eat outside of true hunger
Once we’ve finished eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s no need to continue eating until you’re truly hungry. Avoid mindless and unhealthy snacking in-between meals, when watching TV, and when in social settings.
Temptations to eat can arise from every corner of our lives ranging from TV commercials and billboards to the workplace and social events. Therefore, developing the discipline of declining excessive and unnecessary calories is a critical element of successful weight loss and maintenance.
4. If at first, you don’t succeed…
We’re human, which means we blow it sometimes. No big deal. It’s all in how we handle it in the aftermath.
When (not ‘if’) we slip and overeat, we shouldn’t fall back into our diet mentality and think, “I really blew it! I might as well go all the way. I’ll get back on track tomorrow.” Which really translates to mean we’ve given ourselves permission to pig out. No! We must abandon this way of thinking!
Instead, we must immediately resume practicing our newly acquired lifestyle habits. First, we adhere to our body’s physiologic cues by discontinuing the overeating as soon as we become aware of it. Then, we don’t eat again until we are genuinely hungry.
If we practice catching and stopping unhealthy behaviors and return to practicing healthy ones ASAP, we will continue down the path of weight loss. For it’s not the occasional bump in the road that keeps us from our goal weight (even thin people overeat at times), it’s the extreme behavior of ‘throwing in the towel’ and binging (or significantly overeating) that does us in.
5. Be intentional about making simple sacrifices every day and at every meal. Small, daily deposits add up and lead to great profits over time!
Before eating any meal, challenge yourself by taking a healthy stand of some sort. For instance, decide in advance to decline seconds. If you find the food to be irresistible and you’re tempted to have more, no worries, you can! But don’t have double portions in one sitting. Instead, wrap up the additional serving and take it home to enjoy the next time you’re hungry. This way you still get to enjoy the delicious food twice! But by spacing out the servings you can still lose weight. This reasonable, doable strategy is called having your cake and eating it too!
Losing and maintaining weight is best accomplished by adopting a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. When practiced daily, these simple tips can significantly reduce overeating and naturally lead to weight loss.
Start losing weight effortlessly by practicing these simple, painless weight loss strategies!
Note: These practices may not be suitable for some people. Always consult with your doctor prior to adopting or changing your dietary or exercise regimen.
Enhance your weight loss success by checking out Part 2 of this article next week: 5 Simple Action Steps for Effortless Weight Loss
Best of health to you!
Formerly obese and maintaining a 50-pound weight loss, Dr. Collins specializes in obesity treatment/weight loss in West Hills, CA, and is the author of the best-selling book “No More Dieting!” She also enjoys public speaking and consulting and has been widely recognized in the media for her life accomplishments.