This time of year is awash with social media posts of women who have slightly overindulged in the summer months. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for a bit of planned indulgence on our summer holidays.
As a nutrition coach, I’m also well aware that if we don’t live part of our lives depriving ourselves of everything we enjoy, then it doesn’t need to lead to a crash every summer or every time the holidays roll around or every weekend for that matter.
The key to sustainability in your weight loss journey is to set yourself up for success. Try not to bolt out of the gate with everything you have got only to fail miserably with your unrealistic goals at the end of day one. It’s all too tempting after a summer of overindulgence or even a weekend of brunching and socialising to put yourself on world war two style rations on Sunday morning. The latest juice craze or cabbage soup diet all seem to have extraordinary claims, but the only thing you achieve is a loss of moral when all the weight piles back on again or when you can’t stick to it much past lunchtime.
Here are my top tips for how to fix our nutrition plans in a sustainable, non-deprivation way.
1. Eat slowly and mindfully
This habit for many is one of the most important habits you can master. It may sound simple, and it can be, but it takes focus. Ultimately, you will end up tuning into your hunger cues, eating smaller portions, tasting your food more, aiding digestion and all in all enjoying the experience of eating much more.
2. Eat to 80% full
Do you fear hunger? I certainly did. A hunger pang could send me into a mad panic, crazed and single-mindedly hunting for the nearest edible morsel. Newsflash, it isn’t an emergency, we live in a society of abundance, and we will not starve to death if we have to wait another hour for a meal. Learning to sit with hunger and be ok with it will help you reprogram your brain to realise you are not a Neanderthal in a survival situation.
Leaving the table 80% full helps prevent overeating. It helps the food you have eaten reach your stomach and allow you to feel satiated.
3. Get Accountable
People are more likely to change when they have healthy and supportive relationships. You can be accountable to a friend, a work colleague, a trainer or a coach.
Setting up a Facebook support group can be a great way to share your journey with others and perhaps share pictures of your menus or your workouts.
4. Control your environment
Believe it or not, it’s much easier to control our environment than it is to control our mind: Research tells us that the majority of our decisions are automatic, so we need to remove our trigger foods from easy reach so that we don’t accidentally throw them in our mouths.
Think about doing a little kitchen makeover and get rid of all the foods that you know you can’t resist.
5. Adjust your portion sizes
Eating Slowly, mindfully and to 80% full will help you to tune into your body’s hunger and satiety cues more but what types of food and in what quantities will help you reach your goals.
How much food you should be eating, will of course vary depending on many factors to include your body type and level of activity.
An excellent guide is to use your hand to help. If you are eating 3-4 times a day then a meal should look like this:
1 palm of protein dense food
1 fist of vegetables
1 cupped handful of carbs
1 thumb of fat
Using your hand as an indication of correct portion size is much easier than counting calories or macros.
6. Practice Consistency
MOST important tip of all.
With a framework, these changes are easy but without they perhaps provide sketchy and un-actionable advice. Even a 1% move towards a healthy lifestyle is valuable and worthwhile and if you can get 1% closer to your goals every day then just think about where you could be this time next year.
Overall I am a fan of keeping things simple when it comes to your exercise and nutrition plan, complex macro breakdowns and workouts are too often not sustainable for most of us. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of nutrition information out there or simply don’t know how to structure your lifestyle change, then I can help.
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