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Diets Don’t Work - Stick To Healthy Eating Habits Instead

Diets Don’t Work - Stick To Healthy Eating Habits Instead

Do you ever find yourself at a loss, trying to understand why, in spite of your best efforts, dieting just doesn’t work?

For many years, I could have been considered an extreme dieter; someone always on the lookout for the latest miracle weight loss programme. From fasting, to protein-shake meal replacements, a no-carb diet, a protein-only diet and more.  I tried it all!

Like many others, after thorough and painful research, I came to the conclusion that dieting does not work. Yes I did lose weight short-term which always came back. I sometimes managed to be heavier than when I began! But what I certainly gained was a very unhealthy relationship with food. I was tormented by a combination of low self-esteem and guilt.

Developing sustainable eating habits, rather than jumping on the latest diet bandwagon, is essential for a healthy lifestyle. But how do you get there?

Developing sustainable eating habits

Eating is meant to be social and enjoyable. Yet we rush through meals, chow down food in front of TV or in the car and generally stop paying attention to what we are eating.

Developing a mindful rather than obsessed relationship with food is key to long-term health and well-being.

Maintaining a healthy weight after being on a diet can only be achieved if you can sustain your new eating habits without too much effort.

Here are some simple and easy tips:

  • Avoid processed and refined foods: cooking yourself, you will use less salt, fat and sugar than food manufacturers do and be healthier in the long-term.
  • Choose nourishing and enjoyable food: it will help you develop a positive attitude towards food.
  • Focus on what you eat: sit down at meal times, switch off the phone, tablets and TV
  • Eat slowly: taking time to chew food and appreciate its flavours can help keep you satiated for longer.   
  • Plan meals and snacks ahead:  so you do not reach for high sugar, high fat convenience food.
  • Portion control is important:  switching to smaller plates and bowls can make a lot of difference.
  • Eat regular meals to help regulate cravings and appetite.
  • Exercise regularly.

Dealing with our emotions.

For most of us, emotions rather than hunger affect our eating patterns. Food becomes a source of comfort to deal with stress, boredom, sadness and other problems. Going on a diet, can very easily make you obsessed with food and create additional emotional havoc . Resolving issues and finding coping mechanisms, other than through food, to deal with emotions is more effective than dieting.

Increase physical activity

Dieting decreases metabolic rate which has a knock-on effect of reducing our energy expenditure. The less you eat, the more your metabolism slows down, the harder it is to lose weight.

Increasing exercise is a very effective way to make sure your metabolic rate is at its peak. It does not have to imply hitting the gym or starting pumping iron seven days a week. Instead try to pick an activity you enjoy so you can stick to your exercise routine. Other tips to be more active can be as easy as ditching the car when you can walk instead, taking the stairs rather than the lift or even doing some gardening.

Also, when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These happy hormones are key to help you deal with stress and develop a positive mental attitude.

After over twenty years of yo-yo dieting, I found my solace in a flexitarian plant-based diet filled with fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, a little dairy and vegetable proteins.

I eat meat or fish very rarely, choosing high fibre low fat protein sources instead such as beans, pulses and Quorn. High in protein and fibre Quorn is perfect to keep you fuller for longer. Two of my favourite products are Quorn Meat Free Chicken Pieces which I add to vegetable casseroles or pies, and Quorn Meat Free Mince which is delicious in pasta sauces or shepherd’s pies.

Gone are the emotional ups and downs of diet. A plant based diet filled with nutritious food combined with regular physical activity have increased my energy levels.  Today my mindful eating is totally effortless and my flexitarian lifestyle second nature. Finally a diet I can stick to!