Weight-loss diets don’t work.
There. I said it.
Obsessively restricting calories or banning foods usually results in an endless loop of dieting, weight loss, cravings and inevitable weight gain.
However, when you stop depriving yourself of certain foods, you find yourself enjoying them more and craving them less. After all, the only 'bad’ food is food past its use-by date.
So, are you ready to ditch that diet and build positive eating habits?
Here are 5 diet-free ways to improve your relationship with food.
This mindful approach to healthy eating also boosts your mood, self-esteem and weight stability.1. Hara hachi bu.
This is a Japanese saying for “eat until you are 80% full” then wait 20-30 minutes before deciding if you need more. It gives your brain time to catch up with your stomach.
2. Slow down your eating and appreciate every bite.
Take time to truly taste and enjoy your food and consider the effort it took to get it to your plate: the planting and farm work; the transport; the storage; the shopping; packaging; preparing and cooking.
Don’t forget to turn off the TV so you can enjoy the conversation and food.
3. Nurture yourself with things other than food.
What is something special you can do for you? Read a book, go for a walk, take photos of nature, book a massage, paint your toenails, spend time patting your pet, sing, dance, stretch or listen to music. The list is endless and different for everyone.
4. Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ approach to eating.
As I mentioned at the start, a restrictive approach to food only serves to set you up for failure. Consider an 80/20 rule by choosing to nourish your body with nutritious foods 80% of the time and be flexible 20% of the time.
But don’t beat yourself up if you go over your ‘flexible’ quota. The aim is to give yourself permission, not to be strict or obsessive.5. Consider your environment.
What subtle things encourage you to eat when you’re not hungry?
Chocolate on the bench? Can you move it and replace it with fruit or a bunch of flowers? Drive-through on the way home? Can you drive a different route?
Remember that advertising—promotions, music, smells and product placement— is designed to get you to spend your money, so beware!
Ask yourself: is it really a deal? Do I need to buy two? Am I truly hungry? Do I need all three varieties? Then remind yourself: I can have it now if I want it...but I could have it next time instead, if I feel like it then.
Do you need help with your eating?
Inspiro dietitians and nutritionists offer positive and non-judgmental support.
Please reach out to us so we can help you.
Please note: sometimes people need to change their diets for a specific health reason. This is different to the yo-yoing of weight loss dieting.
About the author
Tracey Higgins is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist with over 17 years of experience. Her areas of practice have included: diabetes; weight management; sports nutrition; eating disorders; fussy eating, food intolerance; malnutrition - as well as healthy eating and lifestyle and fitness advice. She now works in health promotion at Inspiro, working with community groups.