Eliminating the foods we love and making compromises with ourselves to eat food that is tasteless and unsatisfying as part of a weight loss strategy is a set up for failure.
Daily life is filled with doughnuts that suddenly appear at the conference table, chocolates that arrive at the door, the slice of cake on your birthday you really want, and your mother's special meatloaf she only makes once a year.
Avoiding these foods teaches us nothing, because it is unrealistic that we are going to stick to a dreadful diet that makes us miserable or keeps us hungry, bored, and unsatisfied. When we make silly compromises or commit to meals we can barely tolerate, it leads to hunger, irritability, and resentment which will completely derail good intentions and efforts.
Here are 6 steps to follow that will allow you to achieve lasting weight loss, without gimmicks, hunger, or unpleasant dieting involved:
1. Incorporate your favorite foods
… even those formerly considered as "cheat foods"- while you are losing weight, so that you learn portion control and maintenance during the process. This new skill becomes your insurance policy that you will arrive at your goal and already confidently know how to maintain your weight loss.
2.Master HOW to have a portion of a treat
…by allowing yourself a pre-committed serving daily or weekly. If sweets are your thing, allot yourself 100 calories per day for your sweet treat or make accommodations for that weekly treat. Plan for it. This important daily or weekly practice will start guiding you HOW to balance your choices and walk through temptation, instead of avoiding it.
3.Include a healthy balance of foods each day
… protein, carbs, fruit, and vegetables that you already enjoy so that you feel happy and satiated. Protein in particular- lean meat, chicken, fish, Greek yogurt and eggs-is slowly digested, giving you a fuller sensation for a longer period of time.
4.Celebrations, special occasions, and foods that we crave,
aka"cheat foods," are part of real life. In order to live in the real world and have real results, we need to be realistic. The more opportunities you have to test out your new skill of saying no, eating half or making a different choice, the more adept and confident you will become at navigating future difficult situations.
5. Stop using the word "diet."
Diets are temporary. View the changes you are about to make as ongoing lifestyle and mindset shifts that work towards your immediate AND future goal of losing weight AND keeping it off. The journey matters most here, so you can get to your destination "“ your goal weight – and stay there. Too often, we work so hard to lose weight only to regain it back BECAUSE we have not truly learned anything new or different along the way. Regard your diet as the way you live and eat, and when you arrive at your goal weight, you will already know what to do, because you have been doing it all along.
6. Recognize beating yourself up after a "slip" as unproductive and useless.
Anger, disappointment and shame after messing up often leads to making even more poor choices which leads to more negative and self-defeating emotions. Consider your "slip" as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and to do it differently next time. Each day is a new day, and a clean fresh slate with the opportunity to do it better.