Now that all of the festivities are over, many of you may be thinking of shedding some pounds gained over the holidays, or even losing some of the weight that has been slowly creeping on to your body. For all of you out there who are considering starting a new diet, it may be beneficial to think about a few things first.
What are you trying to do when you go on a diet? Lose weight, right (duh!)? But let’s scroll ahead and take a look at how you are feeling after a few weeks or months. Let’s say you have lost some pounds. Then what? Take a minute and ask yourself…
Do you feel like you have been “being good”, and are looking forward to going back to the way you were eating before your diet? Thing is, many diets don’t teach you anything about how to eat in the long term. They like to keep you on their diet. Often what you are actually learning is that diets are a temporary eating pattern, and a torturous one at that.
Weight Gain Habits
Here’s the rub. If you want to keep the pounds off, you need to take an honest look at the habits that have lead to weight gain in the first place. Consider that in our culture, eating is not just a matter of fueling our bodies in a nutritious way. We have the luxury of having food around us all the time. Eating can be festive, recreational, social, pleasurable, emotionally rewarding, a hobby, and a learned behavior that was established as we were growing up. Then there is the constant advertising for large portions of food laden with fat, sugar, and salt. Little wonder that some of our best efforts at losing weight becomes sabotaged.
Rather than plunge headlong into another diet, check in with yourself first. Have a little talk with yourself and ask some questions. Why do you eat, and how do you go about making your food choices? What is your usual approach to food? Do you eat for a reward or distraction, or because of social expectations? Or are you actually hungry and thinking of the best way to nourish your body?
Assumptions and Motivations
Take a look at your assumptions and motivations and realize that these can be changed. This can be a tall order because most of us truly love the food choices we make, for all sorts of reasons. Here is where a little grey thinking can help. What I mean is that a new way of eating does not need to happen over night. In fact, it shouldn’t. Black and white thinking, turning an on and off switch, only puts you at risk for yearning to go back to “normal”.
Instead, make small changes toward fewer calories and better nutrition that you can live with in the long term. Make a small change, get used to it, and then make another. After 3 months, 6 months, a year, you will be making great choices that will keep the weight off.
Here are several books on this subject that may be of help to you: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Life is Hard, Food is Easy by Linda Spangle, and Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.
Also check out my blog, Diet and Exercise: Two Peas in a Pod?, for more on how making small changes can really work for you.
Happy and Healthy New Year!
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