"Diets don't work!" scream a lot of PTs and nutritionists nowadays. And more often than not, they then go on to prescribe nutritional advice that can only be described as a diet. And then some. Real food it may be but try telling the average Joe that hot buttered toast in the morning's now out and an ostrich burger with a side of spinach is in (and don't even think about asking for OJ).
A diet is "... the practice of eating food in a regulated fashion to achieve or maintain a controlled weight" according to Wikipedia. Sounds like a diet to me. So unless we're all caving in to every craving and impulse on an hourly basis, we're all pretty much on a diet every day. But a diet that's going to work in the long term needs to be sustainable which is where, in my opinion and experience, paleo-style eating and any other plan or regime that requires you to abandon 'killer carbs'/'preferred source of fuel for the human body' (delete as appropriate depending on bias) or any other major food group, comes a cropper.
I think successful long term weight loss lies not in swotting up on every conflicting bit of nutritional information going but in really getting to know yourself in terms of your relationship with food. Francis Bacon was right when he said "knowledge is power". Forget knowing the GI of a jacket potato though - knowing how to differentiate between genuine hunger pangs and food cravings is a better start, while becoming aware that comfort eating is one of the biggest myths going, and taking some responsibility for what you put into your mouth should both stand you in good stead to finally lose some weight.
I believe that inside every overweight human being is a slim version desperate to break out (and vice versa, for the record). So forget the 8pm carb curfew for now: try following these seven strategies every day for a few weeks and see if you drop a dress size - or two.
Know your hunger.
Your best friend and magic pill to weight loss isn't a protein shake or even a dumbbell - it's the ability to distinguish genuine hunger pangs from cravings. If you're after something sweet or fatty, the chances are it's a craving, especially if you've recently eaten. Still in doubt? Give it time. Cravings will pass without being fed; hunger will get worse.
Don't give up chocolate.
If you have a food weakness, probably best to accept that your long term diet plan needs to include it. Whether your food fix is a chocolate biscuit (or two), a bit of Easter egg, salty chips, or a supersized curry, chances are you need to factor-in the occasional splurge.
Know your limitations.
If the biscuit tin, box of wine or another food or drink fix talks to you after a hard day, don't keep it in the house. You're only human and a Ben & Jerry's/Rioja bender will always seem more appealing than a bubble bath or glossy mag. But if you remove temptation, you'll survive... thrive, even. And be slimmer.
Don't kid yourself it's comfort eating.
Comfort eating is the biggest weight loss saboteur going. The comfort is short lived and usually comes from planning and buying high cal stodge; everything after that is anti-comfort: guilt, shame and remorse. These sounds like big emotions to attach to something as benign as a bit of cake eating but after a decade of working with people with a variety of food issues, I've come to believe one thing: comfort eating soothes very little.
Beware the office feeder.
Don't succumb to peer pressure to eat and don't snack mindlessly - two things that go on a lot in the workplace nowadays. It seems every birthday, pregnancy, resignation and redundancy is an excuse to dash to M&S and splash out on 'tubs to share'. Don't do it - even if you stop at just a couple of those mini flapjacks, that's still 15 minutes on the treadmill, while a slice of your colleague's homemade cake would take an hour on the cross trainer to burn off.
Lose the liquid cals.
Don't think drink calories count? Let me give you some numbers: if it's not factored into your daily calorie intake, a venti latte a day could mean a pound of weight gain in just 12 days. Yes, those liquid calories soon add up. Giving up just one glass of wine a day could mean weight loss of a pound in just over a month. Don't be clueless, don't be naive: know the connection between your belt notch and the glass in your hand.
Never eat your workout.
I'm nearly out of space so I'll be blunt here: you're probably not burning half as much as you think during your workout. If you think you've earned that 'little muffin break' after a good workout, be aware that you've probably just consumed every last sweat calorie. Eat to appetite only and then eat well: if you're looking to lose weight, that means unrefined carbs like pulses, brown rice and potatoes with their skins, lean protein and lots of high fibre veg and salad. And not too much of anything either.
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