With the new release of the much anticipated Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it got me thinking about the association of this title with the world of weight loss. Like the competitors from the districts of Panem, those who embark on a weight loss journey can experience the feelings of 'a fight to the death' when trying to reach their goals. Now granted, to some this may seem like an extreme association, but those who have tried to lose weight will certainly understand. The word "diet" in itself (regardless of the food it is made up of) whenever spoken or thought about, generally brings with it many negative connotations such as deprivation and lack. Perhaps the most believed connotation of the word diet, however, is that you must be constantly hungry in order for you to see results; this mantra of the hungrier the better can often be believed. Even many health experts will say that you should expect to feel slightly hungry when trying to lose weight as you restrict calories. However, this need not be the case, and the problem often is that too many of us are fixated on the notion of quantity of calories over the actual quality of them. When you take this approach of just trying to hit a certain total number of calories a day and forget about where these calories are coming from, you really are setting yourself up for a fall. To put this into a practical example:
If you were to choose between a snack of 25g of almonds which has around 150kcal and a 25g packet of baked crisps, which has just over 100kcal, you most certainly would choose the crisps as they have fewer calories. However, when you look at the quality of these calories, they are actually very poor. The nuts will not only provide a great source of protein and quality fats, helping you to feel fuller for longer, they also have a much lower sugar content which will keep your blood sugar level stable. Maintaining a stable blood sugar level is one of the keys to success when embarking on a weight loss journey, as this is what can trigger cravings, increase your appetite, and leave you feeling extremely fatigued.
The hunger that you can experience when you are focusing solely on calories is enough to derail any new eating patterns that you are trying to instil. When feelings of hunger kick in you will begin to feel irritable, start to lose your focus and concentration, until eventually your will power will give out and you reach for that biscuit tin. Instead of simply aiming for an overall calorie content, try to consume foods that contain a good amount of protein and quality fats and that are lower in sugars. Begin to get ingredient savvy and really look at where your calories are coming from. A major tip on this is always be wary of products that are labelled reduced or low fat, as quite often these can be exceptionally high in added sugars. Now, I am not saying that there still won't be some struggles on your journey, and everyone's experiences will be different. But getting the basic quality of your diet right will certainly stop you becoming a contestant in the constant Hunger Games surrounding weight loss.