DON’T THINK ABOUT A PINK ELEPHANT. No seriously, you can’t think about it. Promise me.
I guarantee right now you are thinking about a pink elephant, am I right?
The same thing happens with traditional dieting and weight loss methods. It all starts out so well.
“I’m just going to eat vegetables and plain chicken and fat free yogurt for a month and then I’ll be ready for bikini season. No carbs, no sugar, no fun.”
A few days go by, and maybe you are able to stick to it. Then the weekend comes. Maybe you have a dinner with friends, or a birthday party to go to. But remember- you’re on a diet! No sugar, no carbs.. And definitely no alcohol. But since you’ve spent all week hungry and craving foods that you “can’t have”, when the croquetas or patatas bravas hit the table, they look like the most delicious thing you’ve ever seen. Maybe you are able to make it through dinner without touching them- and then dessert comes. Chocolate- and you LOVE chocolate. At this point your willpower is basically crying out for mercy. By the time you get home, you’re ready to eat whatever sweet/salty snack you can find in your house, and the next thing you know you’ve eaten a pack of cookies and half a jar of Nutella.
Does this sound familiar? If it hasn’t happened to you, you probably know someone that has gone through this scenario- perhaps multiple times. Since clearly trying to lose weight this way SUCKS… how the hell can people eat lose body fat and not go insane in the process?
The key is finding a more sustainable way to diet.
As a nutrition coach, part of my process is helping people find that balance- the point at which they can head towards their goals, but not go crazy. Part of this is also being patient- yes, you can lose weight fast.. But is it really worth it? If in the process of weight loss you are cutting calories too drastically, or cutting out all foods that you like to eat in order to achieve that goal- it becomes about more than just what you eat.. You can start to sacrifice your social life and even your sanity.
Since at Bite Size Pieces Nutrition I’m all about sustainability… here are some things you can work on that will help you get to your goals- without having to avoid the pink elephant every day.
1. Maximizing nutrient density in your meals.
Think about adding color and fiber to your meals to make them more filling. If you are a pasta lover, and the thought of cutting pasta out of your diet sounds terrible, try bulking up your pasta dishes with extra veggies- instead of a serving of 2 cups cooked pasta with a bit of tomato sauce and cheese, try 1 cup pasta with some mushrooms, broccoli and whole tomatoes with the sauce- you still get to eat a big plate, but the calorie count goes down, and the micronutrients and fiber go way up! Same goes for almost any meal- for example a breakfast toast could change from serrano ham, bread and olive oil whole grain bread to tomatoes, avocado and spinach with some fresh cheese or turkey slices.
2. Re-training your taste buds.
For a lot of people, the thought of fruit as dessert just doesn’t sound as good as a cookie or piece of cake. If you are used to eating super sweet foods, it is NORMAL that a piece of fruit doesn’t taste very sweet to you. By reducing the amount of added sugars (and even fake sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame!) that you take in, you can start enjoying natural flavors in real food even more. Try lowering the amount of sugar you add to your coffee, or switching from milk chocolate to a darker chocolate. Little by little, you will find you need less sweetness to get the same pleasure- and that foods that tasted bland to you before are now FULL of flavor.
3. Implementing mindful eating habits.
Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full sounds so damn simple.. But it is what most of us struggle with the most! Part of this is because we are not present during mealtimes, and we are programmed to eat at certain intervals-whether we are hungry or not. Take note on if you are eating out of boredom or another emotion- if you are bored, find another activity that is NOT related to food to distract yourself with. Make a rule that you are not allowed to eat with distractions- often we are so distracted with something else when eating that we finish our meal and can’t even remember what we just ate. Work on eating more slowly, and chewing your food well. No more Game of Thrones during dinner- each one deserves your full attention.
4. Not letting yourself get too hungry.
Yes, in order to lose weight, it is important to consume less calories than you use- and at times you may feel a bit hungry… but that doesn’t mean you should be starving all the time. Make sure you are eating at regular intervals, and that your meals fill you up for at least 3-4 hours. If they are NOT doing that, take a look at your meals- does each one have a source of protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates and vegetables or fruit? Think about it this way- if you skip carbs or fat because you think that will get you to your goals faster, but then later that same day you find yourself snacking like crazy because you’re starving- skipping those carbs did you NO favors. Think about eating a lot BETTER, not a lot LESS.
Not all of my clients come to me with the goal of losing weight- part of being healthy doesn’t always mean that you need to weigh less! That said, these tips are good choices for MOST people looking to eat healthy in general- what I find is that a lot of people are “eating well” but missing key components. Also remember that you are an person with individual needs- what has worked for people you know might not be what works for you! If you need more guidance, nutrition coaching could be a good fit for you.