Now bare-with me on this one. You’re probably thinking, what on earth is she on about?! Of course what you put into your mouth makes you gain fat, and yes to some extent this is true. But, what about before you put that food into your mouth, what happens in that space? You are making a conscious decision, or acting out a “behaviour”. All too often I see people blaming one food or nutrient for weight gain – right now, I believe the nutrient of the devil is carbohydrate, but back in day it was fat, and I am sure (despite it’s overwhelming popularity right now) protein will at some point come under fire (and believe it or not protein does still contain energy, so theoretically could too contribute to fat gain).
The truth is, that it is not one nutrient or food that is to blame, it is often (but not always) a collection of behaviours, and this is not always over-eating or inadequate exercise either. In fact, under-eating and continuous “yo-yo” dieting can create havoc for your metabolism, and myself, and other Dietitians will often see clients eating next to nothing that struggle with weight.
As a Dietitian, I am often asked to compile meal plans for clients, and in many circumstances, such as when working with athletes can be very useful. They can also be used as a tool to change behaviours and help people get into a routine, however, they are not a quick fix, and still require a change in behaviour, which is the difficult part. If it were the case that simply eliminating one nutrient or food from the diet would lead to sustainable (and healthy) fat/weight loss, then why isn’t everyone doing it?
Some behaviour modification ideas for weight management:
- Create a conducive environment: in the home and in the office, if you wish to snack, have healthier snack options available such as corn thins (with some ricotta cheese in the fridge), cut up vegetables, fruit, unsalted (portioned) nuts, whey protein powder etc. Stock up on vegetables, tinned legumes and lean meat so they are your options for dinner, and have some healthier “long life” alternatives i.e. tinned veg, frozen veg, wholemeal rice/pasta.
- Have alternatives to food for stress management i.e. scented candles ( I know its corny, but works for me!), sneakers nearby so that you can go for a walk out in the sun on your lunch break (and soak up some vitamin D), have a stress ball – I have a happy emoticon one on my desk, sip on tea, or find your stress management activity!
- If you have cake at work for a birthday or a morning tea, enjoy a small slice, but don’t go overboard – there is no point denying yourself, you are better to enjoy that one piece and have a nice healthy lunch then crave it for the remainder of the week.
- Don’t ever shop hungry or tired, or you will be more likely to buy things that you don’t need.
- If you know you’ll be hungry by the time you get home from work, have a small snack in the afternoon so that you don’t over-eat at dinner time.
- Make exercise a priority even when catching up with friends on the weekend – go for a walk PRIOR to going for a coffee or better still, get a takeaway coffee and go for a walk.
- Remember, it is OK to enjoy ANY food that you like from time to time, but it’s not OK to punish yourself over it, have it enjoy it, and then move on, that way you’ll be less likely to crave it and want (A LOT) something that you’ve told yourself you CAN’T have.