Many people believe that in order to be in control of what they eat, they need to go on a diet. The problem is that when they do go on a diet, they stop paying attention to their basic eating habits. Only after you identify and address the problems you have with your habits, can you find ways to improve your long-term relationship with food.

Why do so many people have trouble maintaining a healthy weight?

Unfortunately, nowadays many people centre their eating around the so-called emotional eating. Eating can become an emotional activity or a distraction from unpleasant feelings or difficult situations, similarly to an instinctive response when things get difficult.

Very often people eat when they feel bored, stressed, upset, lonely, angry or unfulfilled, and emotional eating can really get in the way of your weight loss attempts. It is very difficult to stick to a diet if a person regularly eats for emotional reasons. Going on a diet may make such people feel like they are doing something productive, but in reality they know that most diets are unsustainable and only give short-term results. For this reason, few people are able to maintain their weight permanently at an appropriate level.

Short-lived enthusiasm – what does it mean?

People who want to lose weight quickly often attempt very low-calorie diets. Unfortunately, when the body notices that it is starving, sooner or later it will start craving food, so eventually the willpower that these people rely on will run out.

The key thing in losing weight is to give your body the message that everything is alright. If you drastically restrict your calorie intake, your appetite will eventually increase within a few days or weeks. In fact, dieting can lead to overeating. When quitting a diet, many people have a sense of failure, but the desire to lose weight is still there, so they look for an altogether new diet. The next diet they follow also does not last long.

This is why patience is so important, as you should lose weight slowly. The good thing about slow weight loss is that it allows us to follow a more flexible style of eating, so we don’t have to severely restrict our calories or give up our favourite foods.

Obsessive weighing is demotivating

If we go on a less extreme diet and lose a few kilograms in the first few weeks, but then find that the weight loss has slowed down, it is easy to become disheartened and completely abandon dieting.

It is important not to weigh yourself too often (ideally not more than once a week), as this can be very demotivating. We should remember that our weight can change from day to day for a variety of reasons. Our weight is a bit of a double-edged sword; it can be incredibly motivating and it can be incredibly discouraging. Weighing can be a useful tool when we are assessing our weight loss progress, but if it becomes an obsessive behaviour, it is anything but helpful.

Short-lived enthusiasm… now what?

If we have a lot of weight to lose, we may see our goal as overwhelming and unachievable, which makes it difficult for us to feel motivated to do anything about it. Instead of focusing on a seemingly distant goal, it’s more important to enjoy the journey and be less strict about gradually losing weight through flexible eating and drinking.

It’s a good idea to break down your goal into smaller and more achievable chunks, such as multiple individual weight loss points, for example, every 3-4 kilograms. This way you will see progress every time you reach a goal, which will help you stay motivated. When you see failure, it’s easy to give up, whereas when someone achieves a “mini-success,” they feel really good about it and are more likely to be inspired enough to keep going.

If someone keeps a strict diet with rigid rules, they may end up locking themselves away in a mental prison of deprivation. No food is bad, what matters is how often you eat it and how much of that food you eat. People rely on willpower not to eat “bad” food, but willpower is like a battery – it runs out. Instead of denying yourself the food you like and eating the food you think you should eat, try taking a more relaxed approach and give yourself permission to eat what you like.

Far better than torturing yourself with a strict diet is taking the “80/20” approach, where you eat quite well 80% of the time, rather than trying to eat perfectly 100% of the time.

Although pursuing a new way of eating may seem daunting, establishing new mindful eating habits only takes a little practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself, have patience and start your journey towards your dream weight taking little steps.

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