"Show me somebody who has made significant health changes through cutting out a certain food group and I will show you an unhappy person." Headstrong and disciplined, but also guaranteed an unhappy relationship with food. Now that may sound a bit too harsh but the reality is that only very little people that go on a traditional diet, one that consists of cutting out food groups such as a low-carb, low fat or no sugar diet, maintain weight loss in the long run. At some point your iron willpower is going to run out. As soon as you add the forbidden food group back into your diet, your scale will let you know. Often times people that have deprived their bodies of a specific macronutrient will find that they actually gain a few pounds more than their original weight after they stop dieting.
So what does work?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing your thought patterns. CBT focusses around the concept that thoughts, behaviors and emotions all influence each other. Often used to treat anxiety and depression, it has also proven useful in helping patients lose weight. Change your association with food to change your desire for food. How does CBT work?
1. Don't call it a diet
Most people do not maintain a diet as it implicates a constant battle against a type of food your crave. Choosing to eat healthy or healthier implies that you have control over the situation. A first way of thinking your way to a healthier weight is to not call it a diet! Tell yourself you are making healthier choices instead.
2. Keep an honest log on your food intake
We know that asking people to log their own food intake is incredibly biased and often off by percentages that run in the double digits. However, just logging what you eat during the day does give you an indication of your dietary pattern and your worst habits. It helps you identify your triggers and cravings. Apps such as Under Armour's MyFitnessPal is a great free tool to keep track of what you eat. It works well if you are actually honest enough to add that double chocolate chip cookie into the app.
3. Pay attention to your thoughts
If there is one person who is going to sabotage your good intentions, it is YOU. Pay close attention to your thoughts in order to figure out what connections you have with your cravings and triggers. The weekend is not an excuse to undo all the hard work you put in during the week. No, you don't deserve a double serving of vanilla fudge simply because you made it to the gym. If you eat real food regularly, you will not be deficient in calories and nutrients, period. If the earlier statements are familiar to you, you can try and adopt a healthier thought process by focussing on what benefits you will get in the long run if you maintain a steady eating pattern of breakfast, lunch and dinner without any treats because your mind convinced you too. For those struggling with these types of cravings, I highly recommend watching or reading Mel Robbins' Stop Saying Your Fine. Makes for a good holiday season gift and a great conversation starter on New Year's Resolutions!
4. Be kind to yourself
If you had quit after the first time you fell down, you would never have learned to walk or ride a bike. You will fail. You will fail more than once. It is your ability to be kind to yourself and carry on with your journey that will lead you to ultimately achieve your target. Know that there are going to be good days and bad days and that the aim is not to never have a bad day. You are just planning to create a streak of good and very good days in between those bad days. Crowding out the bad by adding in more good. And when you encounter a bad day, smile and thank it for the reminder to keep adding more of the good ones in.
5. Be accountable
Accountability and check-ins are key to succeeding. This is where your health coach can help you on your way to a better version of you. Having a health coach at your side will help you deal with the challenges you face in your journey to change your mindset towards food. Knowing that you will be held accountable will help you make better choices until you have conditioned your mind to think differently. Also, your health coach can help you with changing you thinking patterns and guiding you with up to date knowledge on healthier alternatives for your current diet. Healthstax offers this type of service and we would be delighted to help you on your way. Contact us via email for a free initial conversation.