We get started on a diet or plan with the best intentions. Despite that, there are usually a combination of things that prevent 85% of people from succeeding and staying there:
Falling off the wagon (inconsistency)
Not enough time
Stressful life (busy work/stressful personal life etc)
We start on a diet, we stop weeks in and have to essentially restart if we decide to do it over again.
This happens because:
the pain of not doing it is not enough for you to keep doing it
the pleasure of doing it is not enough to keep you doing it.
Imagine a lion chasing you – it’s much easier for you to run and keep running because if you stop, the lion will eat you. We are programmed to avoid pain, discomfort and fear. If we fear losing something eg losing money if we make a bet, or looking embarrassed (losing social standing) if we make a promise we don’t keep, we keep doing the thing to avoid the pain or loss.
The contrast is doing something for the love of it and for pure enjoyment. Imagine eating going out for a drink every weekend with your friends. It feels good so its easy to keep doing it every weekend because we gain more pleasure from doing it than not.
Well in this light, the solutions to building consistency is to create either an avoidance of a certain discomfort, or do things because you enjoy them.
They will both work, but ultimately, a more wholesome and positive experience is created when we do things from a place of love and because it makes us happy.
Choosing to keep doing something to avoid pain or discomfort can definitely be a strong motivator, but lifestyle changes that last usually have the majority of motivation coming from loving to do something rather than avoiding discomfort of something else (80% towards pleasure /20% away from pain).
Please note pleasure is not in the context of hedonism and dopamine adundance i.e. overindulging, taking substances and watching Netflix marathons all day.
In the context of health, moving towards pleasure means discovering that you really like cycling, it gives you energy, helps you lose weight and so you keep cycling as part of your normal routine.
Or doing yoga because it frees up your mind and you can touch your toes. Or eating healthy because you like how much energy it gives you and how well you sleep now.
Find a working program tailored just for you
If you follow what worked for others such as keto plans, 30day challenges that don’t take into account your own lifestyle, preferences, challenges, they wont work.
Following a program that tells you to have 5 small meals everyday while you only have time to eat once or twice a day wont work.
Following a program that tells you that you need to go to the gym 6 times a week while you can only manage 3 or 4 days isn’t going to work.
That’s why a program and a plan tailored around your lifestyle is going to the the game changer for you. You’ll be able to maintain results for a long time because you’ll include the things you do love.
You’ll work around the schedule you have. You’ll work out with efficiency and spend minimal time at the gym. You’ll get a program you like, keeps up with you daily and keeps your relevant goal in line.
This will keep you happy and enjoying things so you move towards pleasure – and are more likely to keep doing it.
You need accountability
You need a partner along your journey who can be objective, but be supportive enough of you goal to give you a caring ear, social support and assertiveness – because you still need to reach your goal.
You will need people in your corner – whether it be friends, your partner, like-minded people, or a supportive coach. They will need to be aware of your goals, needs, be in your corner and give you the push you may need from time to time
This will provide the avoiding the pain factor- because a part of you wouldn’t want to disappoint others around you who are on your team and want to see you win. Its a critical element in success because we rarely succeed on our own without any form of support, counselling or guidance.
This is also a very strong motivating factor that tends to keep most successful people going – being part of a community and having support could mean a world of difference.
If you’re looking for a program, our 1 on 1 coaching provides caring support and tailored guidance, click here to find out more. if its not a good fit for you, it’s no problem. Just find someone, anyone close who can be a caring shoulder to lean on on your journey.
With these 2 elements, it’s much easier to keep going than it is to quit – and that’s consistency in a nutshell.
We know that a meal should be “balanced” – it should have portions of starch, protein, fat and fruit/veg. We have the general idea – but most of us are actually doing it wrong.
The above is a picture of a secretly balanced meal and we’ll tell you the 3 things why this meal is MORE balanced than the average – and how you can do it too for your own meals.
(Click here for a guide on intuitive eating – and learn to listen to your body’s real hunger signals)
Of course, we have to have some STARCH. We have emotions about this macronutrient – often a component of comfort food, some call it the “cause of all weight gain”, others rely on it to function (athletes/runners).
They are often the food staples of all around the world – eg rice, maize meal, sorghum, potatoes etc. They are quite often, the stable component of any meal.
So here we have some regular ol’ carbs – some pasta.
But this carb is unlike any other regular pasta.
This is chickpea pasta. It’s made from 100% chickpeas. It’s packed full of fibre – way way more fibre. Let’s compare our usual pastas in terms of fibre:
normal pasta – 3.2g fibre per 100g,
wholewheat pasta – 7.4g fibre per 100g
chickpea pasta – a whopping 15g fibre per 100g
A balanced meal is higher in fibre, and keeps you full longer. Aim to swap your regular starch for the higher fibre version of it.
Beef mince is a simple common meal to many, easy to make, and convenient for a quick meal.
There’s not that much to comment on here, just how its almost 90% protein because its made from extra lean beef mince and NOT ground mince.
This is helpful especially on a weight loss or maintenance phase because you get more protein for the same calories because there’s less fat. More muscle food to retain lean mass plus more filling.
Win – win. Aim for your protein sources to be lower in fat.
3. Veg + Fat
This is a simple rather plain Greek salad – only made with cucumbers, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and black pepper feta cheese, with dashes of lemon juice and salt.
Why it’s more balanced is because there is INTENTIONAL and careful use of fat sources. NOTE: no oil was added here or dressing, because the feta covers the fat portion and adds flavour too (its a black pepper feta cheese).
The biggest pitfall to salads everyday all over the world is the slobbering of hundreds of calories of salad dressing until it looks like leaves swimming in a pool of 1000 island sauce.
Aim for your salads to be as flavourful as you want without extra fats (unless you have a very lean protein source, then you could have extra fats in your salad eg dressing,cheese,mayo etc).
This meal would qualify as a high protein, high fibre, healthy meal. Why healthy? Because its full of foods that are known to increase satiety, increase food volume, and is nutrient dense. BONUS – It was was made in 25minutes total.
How To Make It Work For You
Easy, swap your staple foods for more filling ones. This creates a 1% change for the better. Do this everyday over a period of weeks, you’ll have made a massive difference without much sacrifice.
Small changes lead to big results over time.
Swap your regular pasta for your wholewheat pasta, or if you can get your hands on some – legume pasta (lentil pasta/chickpea pasta/ mung been pasta etc) – simply because you can feel fuller with eating less, and because they give you extra nutrients.
Switch out your regular beef or ground beef for leaner cuts and extra lean beef mince. Ground beef is typically much higher in fat – which is what accounts for the difference in taste but also means its much much much higher in calories, and lower in protein.
You can flavour up your mince meat with all the herbs, garlic, tomato pepper etc and pair it with a great starch and have a WONDERFUL quick meal.
(Psst – spices and herbs are always your super duper best friends – get generous with them in all your meals. Mind the salt though.)
Have your greens/salads. The biggest tip is to be mindful of the dressings and oils – a drizzle becomes an extra 200 calories – which could be up to 10% of your total calorie intake! Unless, that’s the plan of course.
Keep this in mind the next time you’re constructing a “balanced” meal – and see how it can change everything for you.
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Dieting sucks. We all hate it. Even those who have been “successful” at it – have to keep doing some of the things they did at first.
Those who are successful at it though, recognise the mistakes and work around them.
Getting started is even harder. Here are 5 things common to ALL dieters – both new and old:
They get comfortable with postponing until tomorrow
It’s really easy to push anything off until tomorrow. It doesn’t feel like we won’t do it, because we tell ourselves we’ll still do it. So it eases our minds, while in reality, it’s giving us an excuse.
Successful dieters have these thoughts, but they don’t listen to them. They do what needs to be done, because what they want most matters more than what they want right NOW.
Excuses now will turn into problems later.
To overcome this, simply give yourself a reward for performing the task you need to do, and get it done as best as you can. Don’t worry about perfection – progress makes more strides, and absolutely no-one is perfect.
They get comfortable on weekends
What does a Saturday look like to an average dieter? Rest. Relaxation. Pigging out on foods they stopped themselves from eating during the week. No gym. Drinking alcohol and getting drunk, while eating greasy foods at the same time (steak and beer anyone?).
It’s not about the one thing they do – it’s about how they look at the weekend. A typical dieter looks at the weekend as a way to get away from the “healthy lifestyle”.
Of course when we see this as a way to “get away” from something, we’ll tend to go overboard with what we felt we were denied. Thus over-drinking, over-eating, overindulging.
However, a winning dieter looks at weekends as a chance to get in tune with their goals – to their advantage. Catch up on your cardio, get some decent sleep, don’t go overboard with alcohol (which are empty calories), and stick to your waking time.
It will build consistency and make the Monday that usually feels dreaded flow instead. Building a steady routine helps you stay on track and not fall off the wagon.
They don’t focus on progressive overload
The common myth is to mix up your workouts; change exercises every 2 weeks to shock your muscles. This could not be further from the truth.
Typical dieters who aren’t successful will switch out a routine every 30 days or only do 2 week challenges with no plan for afterwards. They change the exercises completely from yoga to running to spin classes, yet wonder why they look the same after 6 months of regular 4x a week attendance.
Successful dieters not only understand the importance of keeping active regularly, but how you have to stick to one thing for a period of time and get good at it. When you get good at something, you need to make it harder to push yourself into growth.
In training, we call this progressive overload. There are so many ways to do this – add more weight, more reps, skipping for 2 minutes instead of 3, more advance yoga poses. This is where change is made. You only change when you grow. And you only grow when you constantly challenge yourself.
They stick to a program and learn the essential exercises that take them to their goal, and they get really good at it. Even if it takes 6 weeks, 3 months or 6 months.
Get results with a simple basic plan that is effective – within 8 weeks. Click here for a no BS program and start today.
They overlook the mental aspect(visualisation)
Typical dieters don’t picture how they will look and the habits they will have 6 months, 1 year, 5 years ahead.
They think of only today tomorrow and maybe next week when they’ll be at that wedding (gotta lose those 10 pounds to fit in that dress). It’s easy to get in the moment about what you want right now, because that’s what we want the most.
Those who diet and keep the weight off for the long term think not only about how they will look, but also the action they are taking and how they will keep it up in the future.
In the beginning, visualise how you want to look in 6 months/3 months/ X period of time. When you have hit your goal, you have to visualise how you’d want to be living in weeks to months ie the lifestyle choices you’d need to have to maintain it.
This is a sticking point for alot of people – to a typical dieter the idea that you have to exercise for the rest of your life and watch what you eat sounds like torture or punishment.
Not to a successful dieter – they know that it will take some changes in the beginning but it gets easier over time and becomes so natural for you because it becomes who you are. They also focus on small sustainable changes to avoid getting overwhelmed and quitting.
Make the habits part of your everyday by imagining the “future” you as now – that’s how you make it normal. Visualise visualise visualise.
They care what others think
In the times we are living in, a person who makes conscious effort to improve their health is sadly going to be a minority. When you are in the minority, living your life can become the talking point of others, even those close to you.
An aunt can comment on how you didn’t put enough on your plate, or how you don’t have to go to the gym on a Saturday and just “take a rest”. You may be told or you’re getting too obsessed – when you’re really just being consistent.
I recall a time when I was a student when I brought my homemade lentil salad for lunch whereas most bought cafeteria food, and a senior student looked into my Tupperwear container and commented “what is that? that looks so boring”.
Successful dieters know to ignore what others may say about what they choose to eat, exercise, and when they forgo a night of heavy drinking to sleep early. They know that their path is their own and others may not understand what they are trying to achieve – and they take it in their stride and move along towards their goals.
Hunger as the true feeling of hunger – not hunger to relieve an emotion (boredom/fatigue/procrastination/stress) or even thirst?
Create Self Awareness Around Food – WHY Are You Eating?
Food is delicious – and in the primarily hedonistic world we live in nowadays, eating food fulfils a lot of roles – comfort, reward, currency, and commonly a mode of escape from different aspects of our lives. The main reasons people get hungry include:
Genuine hunger – maintenance of bodily functions (true hunger)
Thirst – most don’t drink enough water (distraction)
Reward/celebration (neutral – neither distraction nor true hunger – based on food as a form of pleasure)
Notice that most of this list is using food to attempt to fix a non-food problem. The second is mistaking thirst for hunger. The reality is that this is the way we operate 80% of the time – our hunger cues are off course.
Get down to the nitty gritty reason why you want to eat – which can be an uncomfortable activity. This is because we might realise we are feeling that hunger as a craving to fill ANOTHER emotion.
Embrace True Hunger
If you have generally unhealthy habits in your life, you might find your reasons for hunger are usually beyond true hunger OR you indulge in foods that are less nutritious (“unhealthy” foods). Take away all the emotion, craving, dysfunction and want and you will have pure hunger for food left.
Our health journeys thrive best when we return to our simple preferred basics and roots (in fact most of life becomes easier when you simplify). Plus there is more room to eat what you crave from time to time and still be healthy if you are primarily simple with your nutrition.
The basics on food are – eating to NOURISH your body – you should feel better after you eat and even more so hours after you eat. This is a more basic level of understanding that would benefit most people.
Move from seeing food as something that plays numerous complex and psychological roles in your life to seeing food with a simple basic purpose of providing nutrition. This require removing bad and unhealthy habits, and replacing them with good ones.
Accepting Hunger Is The Way Forward
This is to say that you shouldn’t run to kill every feeling of hunger that you have. Get to know that experiencing hunger from time to time is one form of being comfortable with discomfort which is a key in maintaining success in your health journey.
Get to find out your TRUE source of hunger – and when it truly is because you need to eat, aim to make more nutritious food and less of hyperpalatable foods which will tend to make you overeat and less likely nourish you.
Coping with hunger and not being impulsive as a rule is a form of self discipline that will work in the long run. It will be easier to fight temptations the next time, which will build momentum and builds confidence.
How To Tell If It’s True Or False Hunger
One way is to identify the feeling attached to wanting to eat. Will having the thing you’re craving fix the feeling that makes you want to eat in the first place? If the answer is yes – then it was likely a food a craving. If the answer is no – then you a probably using food as a fix for a non-food problem.
One other way is to pay attention to the kinds of food that you desire to eat. Salty food? Sour Food? A cold glass of juice? Or vegetables?
Although what you crave will probably be what you have been used to eating. A person who has grown up disliking vegetables and usually doesn’t eat them has developed a “taste” for foods other than vegetables – even if they are craving vitamins and nutrients.
It is more complicated when we get to the specific foods because if you lack awareness to your body’s true nutritional needs, the cravings may go unsolved – craving cold juice might mean you should probably drink some water instead.
Get to know and understand your cravings and you will find the solution to what you need.
An Exercise To Understand True Or False Hunger
The next time you feel hungry or a thought comes for you to eat – take 30 seconds to think about it and ask yourself a few questions:
-Is there an urgency or a sense of anxiety or NEED to have this food? Then it’s likely from a place of distraction.
-Will you be uncomfortable if you don’t have this food? If the food you feel hungry for is replaced by a meal with substance (whole foods, nutrients etc) – will your hunger be sated? If no, then it’s likely from a place of distraction. If yes, then it is true hunger.
-Is there something you know you should be addressing in your life and instead of tackling it, eating seems a better course of action? If yes, then it’s a high chance of being a distraction.
-Will the issue still persist after eating? This is probably the biggest sign of eating as a way to deal with a non-food problem.
Master your hunger awareness and gain control back of your nutrition.
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I have great news for you – you can eat anything you want and be healthy. Yes this is a true statement – of course with the exclusion of poisonous and dangerous foods – there’s in reality no such thing as good food or bad food.
You can eat exactly what you want and lose weight. You don’t have to workout 6 days a week and eat only leaves and dry chicken, cut out all starches and have all your meals tasting like cardboard to be healthy. Blanket statement such as certain foods are for weight loos or certain foods make you gain weight are technically misleading. To truly understand why, we must see food within the context of your lives and not right up close.
These are the 2 points to remember:
Healthy food is better to eat regularly and over time (weight loss beginning stage).
You can eat unhealthy foods from time to time and be healthy if your lifestyle is in check. (weight loss maintenance stage).
Everything Adds Up Over Time
Starting a weight loss journey or pursuing a health journey/goal, it’s important to note whether the food is taking us towards or away from where we want to be. This is the mindset towards food we must have if we have a goal (weight loss, weight gain, build muscle etc). And then from there decide to do more of what takes us toward rather than away from your goal.
In the article The Power Of The Compound Effect we briefly went into how a 1% change everyday will lead to 365% improvement in a year. Having one salad isn’t going to make you a healthier person overall. In the same way eating pizza isn’t going to undo all your efforts.
However these behaviours will have cumulative effects over time. It’s probably better for you to keep good food and reduce or even eliminate foods that make you overeat/overindulge, trigger foods etc IN THE BEGINNING STAGES or if you aren’t where you want to be.
You want to build the habit of having good food and better meals so it’s better to focus more on the good and this will take you to reaching your goal.
What You Eat And What Else You Do Is What Actually Matters In The Long Run
This is regarding point number 2. It is a more advanced idea that more people who are in beginning stages or not reached their goal might not easily implement because as we start off, most things are seen as black and white – good and bad.
But when you have some experience with reaching your goals, and are now at the maintenance stages, you become more flexible and realise that there are grey areas and you don’t really need to be strict. You need more self-awareness and big picture thinking about your lifestyle.
Let’s take these 2 people:
Person A: workouts out 4-5 times a week resistance training and cardio workouts, drinks 2.5L of water a day, calorie conscious (eats at or just below maintenance), aims for 25g of fibre a day from mostly whole foods including vegetables daily, and follows IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) style of eating, has double cheese burger for lunch 3x a week and makes sure she has extra vegetables on those days she does.
Person B: Doesn’t work out, stays up late watching Netflix 6 nights a week resulting in 5-6hours of sleep a night, hydrates with juice and soft drinks, drinks <1L of water/day, doesn’t really watch what they eat and frequently has take out or pasta for dinner but makes sure to have a salad for lunch 3x a week coz she has heard eating salads makes you healthy.
In these examples, the idea is Double cheese burger = not good and salad = good. However from these two, the reality is that person A will be significantly in better terms of their health because what actually moves the scale is all the other behaviours. Long term success is based on birds eye view and not looking at a particular thing but at everything.
Health Is Not Binary, It’s A Spectrum
Such is to say that there is not one single act that will change things magically. There can be certain behaviours you change that will trigger OTHER positive changes in your life.
For example a person saying cutting out sugar is what helped them lose 10kg likely means – they stopped eating processed foods containing sugar and replaced them with more whole foods – high fibre starches and vegetables (decreases appetite so you eat less), ate more protein (muscle sparing and decreases appetite), drank more water instead of juice and soft drinks.
Improvements that bring results rarely happen in a vacuum and it’s this point that matters. You can make little changes that will add up but making one change and not shifting your whole lifestyle around will not work in the long run.
How To Make It Simple To Carry Out
Take a paper and write down your daily habits and behaviours for 1 week – observe and document what you eat, how much of it you eat, how much water you drink per day, how many hours of sleep you get, whether you eat to feeling full at your meals, how much exercise you got that day, how your energy levels are, your mood, how many meals with vegetables you eat, how much take out/junk food you ate and how often.
Keep the record for a week and you will find yourself already noticing behaviours you may not have noticed you were doing and instinctively want to change them even without anyone having to tell you.
And the even better news is once you do one thing, make one change, you won’t want it to “go to waste” and it’ll be easier to make other changes for your benefit.
So a cheese burger is not wrong in the same way a salad is not right, they are a 0.5% impact action with power to influence things over a big enough scope of time. It is more potent when you change other behaviours around you.
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As we come towards the end of the first month of the new year full of craziness, our health remains pivotal. Even among a pandemic we have the same desires for a better version of us.
With that, studies have shown that >90% of people who lose weight regain it – so what do the successful <10% do to beat the stats? They understand that you need these 5 unconventional things:
1. A Plan That Works For YOU
When you make a decision to finally do what you need to do and make a lasting change – you’ll need a system and not simply an instruction manual.
Using a plan that doesn’t take into account your own preferences, challenges and allowing for flexibility will take you to a short distance, yet in a few weeks will likely lead you to fall off the path.
Personalising your journey that fits into your schedule will always yield better results than blindly following someone. A bodybuilder who has time to hot the gym 6x a week will not help a busy employee working 2 jobs and has time for the gym only 3x a week. So you’ll need a .
It’s a fact that when you have someone to keep you in check, you are more likely to reach your goal. This is because we tend to not want to disappoint others, whereas without someone to account to, you are likely to let things slide.
Using a friend or family friend could work, however the best is someone who will be objective and tell you what you’ll need to hear and not let things slide too easily – a coach is actually your best bet if you haven’t been successful in the past. (Click here to find more about our coaching.)
3. Tenacious Changes
Once you have the plan that works for you, you will need to be able to see yourself carrying out those behaviours for the next few months if you want a lasting change.
“How you get it is how you’ll keep it”
In this case, the changes you make to LOSE the weight is what you’ll need to do to maintain it. It’s the reason why crash diets and eliminating food groups doesn’t work long term- it’s simply not sustainable.
You need to create small changes doing things you can see yourself doing – and it’s why they have such great effects – they are not too far away from your own reality and they won’t seem so difficult to do – so you can see yourself doing them all at the time, and you’ll keep what you’ve worked for.
4. Reliance On Habits More Than Willpower
Using sheer force will help in the beginning – however it’s a limited resource. There will be days where you will be too tired,stressed or sad to even want to make the right decisions. Too many of these days can undo all the work you have done using all your will power if you havn’t catered for them. You have to create a system of habits in the beginning that you will fall back on when life definitely gets in the way (it is a guarantee to have bad days – it’s simply those who handle bad days better than others and make sure the bad days don’t do too much damage, who win over the long term. Do you want to be a winner long term? Then take the time and put energy into your habits and not just your decisions in the day to day.
5. A New Version Of You
You have to come to terms with the fact that the person you have been until now has gotten you here. The person you WANT to be who has lost 10kg, is full of energy and confidence requires a different version of you – otherwise you’d be them already!
This means you have to let go of some things you have been used to doing and eating – in the name of “I’ve always been this way” or “It’s always been like this”. The truth is that for you to truly achieve your weight loss goal you have to start seeing yourself as the person who has lost that weight – how often do they eat, what do they like to snack on, what is their attitude towards exercise etc.
Once you have that solution, then you need to ask yourself one question: “how can I be more like that person today?”. And then make a decision in line with what they would do.
Over time without noticing you’ll BE that person – and it becomes much easier to make healthier decisions because you have accepted it as who you are – and not a person who clings on to excuses and reasons why they won’t do the right thing.
This probably the most challenging part initially but it’s the ultimate reason for success in the long term. BECOME the person you want to be. Everyday.
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It feels good to chew on something, especially to carry on in between meals, or when just bored at home watching Netflix.
Or maybe it’s tea time at work and you’re feeling peckish and could go for a light pick-me-up before the meeting at 11.
Nutrition is one aspect that is interweaved with our lives; it’s the TOTALITY of your lifestyle is what leads you to where you are on a weight loss journey. Picking a point such as snacking is a strategy that can help a long way because it’s a commonly overlooked potential Achilles heel.
Having filling nutritious meals will reduce the urge to snack in between so it’s simply another alternative. Cover your bases (main meals) so you don’t need to snack. This requires an element of meal prep and might be easier than having to hassle about snacking.
So let’s get into it. We have to play devils advocate here because nothing is ever truly bad or good. It just depends on whether it’s serving you or not.
To Snack Or Not To Snack, That Is The Question
Snacking adds up calories to your daily total, and usually quantities are not measured. In the context where one has full meals, snacking especially when unchecked and taken in an automatic fashion tends to overshoot total calorie intake.
When keeping in mind our struggle with weight loss and not seeing results, its the small things that we tend to gloss over that actually contribute the most and have the ability to swing in our favour.
Reducing your snacking will help if you tend to snack on cookies, cakes daily or even regularly. One lady I was talking to says she has chips (french fries) everyday at tea time yet she was struggling to lose weight.
Any idea where a starting point for her could be? Even before dwelling into the rest of her dietary habits.
Snacking the wrong way could be worse than snacking at all. In this case, cutting out meals in between will likely help especially if there are no available healthier snacks available.
If all you have are ultra processed foods available and you’re having issues with your weight, it might benefit you to reduce your intake. Decrease from 5x a week to 2-3x a week and eventually zero.
An Argument For Snacking
On the other hand, snacking is a way we can use to alleviate our hunger between meals, especially for those with busy working hours and little time for proper meals in between.
Commonly if we leave too much time in between meals we tend to overeat – fill up our plate more than usual and eat beyond satiety (11/10 on the hunger scale – you can even get the “itis”). Or when we get home without having had lunch, we grab the easiest quickest food to bite – usually packaged or something we can heat up in the microwave quickly.
This is where having a healthy filling snack would keep you full until the next meal.
The Best Snacks For You
Medium apple and 1 tbs of any nut butter eg peanut butter, almond butter
A boiled egg
A handful of nuts – ie ~ 15 almonds/macadamia/cashew nuts
A single serving of yoghurt
Raw carrot sticks
A cup of coffee/tea
A small bowl of air popped popcorn
500ml of cool refreshing water (You may be dehydrated and think it’s hunger.)
The list above are the preferences I would recommend to someone who likes to snack or needs to due to time, their job etc. They are based on being higher in fibre, protein or nutrient dense in varying combinations.
If you can nail that, then snacking will be a helping hand towards your goal of losing weight. If you can’t however, rather than indulging in Jane’s freshly made cookies she brings everyday to the office, you might have to put in more effort in your main meals as mentioned at the beginning.
Are your snacks your downfall? Do an inventory on your dietary habits and you’ll probably find out what needs to change.
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We know we should eat less processed food and more vegetables, and probably hit the gym more.
It’s a common decision to cut it all off – no carbs, no sugar, no cake, so sweets, no eating out. Because we know that being healthy means no cake, or KFC and no pizza.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The concern is not the food, its not the sugar or the candy. There are no good foods and bad foods. There are only good eating habits and bad eating habits. All foods are good within context.
It’s not the one thing that you do that matters, its the sum of the things you do over a long enough period of time that matters. Not in the fact that not eating cake is the reason why someone is healthy – but more that the healthy person doesn’t :
Overdo it and eat half the cake at once – everyday.
Feel guilty about it to the point where they decide to give it up and toss it all in because all is lost – and proceeds to skip the gym for good.
Have cake for breakfast (not the issue in general), then have pizza for lunch and a bowl of cereal for dinner (lacking nutrients all day).
It’s about how one goes about the eating of the cake and how the rest of their lifestyle ties in. Is there a balance?
You Need Only 51% Of Good To Be In A Positive Balance
The good habits (eating well, drinking water, staying active) need to be at least 51% to make positive movement. This means you can screw up 49% of the time and still make some sort of headway.
This means that having cake on occasion or that drink with the colleagues after work doesn’t have to be detrimental to your progress. However it’s most important not to look at the things you can get away with and be happy about it.
Instead try to see it as having celebrations, missteps, binges and cravings and falling off the wagon – as part of the journey and to get back up on the horse.
To have the perfect day and perfect meals – and NO urges, cravings or binges – is imaginary. The world tells you that nothing is perfect and we know ourselves as not being perfect – yet we want to hold our life source – nutrition, health to a perfect standard. It’s setting an unfairly heavy burden that sets you up to fall short inevitably.
If anything, that’s being completely unfair on yourself. It is one of the reasons why self-acceptance is a critical part of any transformative process – because you will definitely be human and have things go off plan. It’s part of the journey of life.
“All Or Nothing” Is Making It Harder Than It Needs To Be
This isn’t to say that you can slack and do what you want while putting in minimal effort. It’s more about putting in effective effort in moderate amounts. You don’t have to go to the gym 6 times a week and eat salads every day.
However you do have to be conscious of the food types and quantities you eat on a regular basis (calorie and nutrient awareness), have some physical activity at least for 150 minutes a week and drink enough water. Minimise activities that HURT your progress such as alcohol intake, smoking and just generally health avoidant behaviours.
It just has to be MORE of the good things than the bad. Don’t feel discouraged when the “bad” moments happen, simply move on from it as if it didn’t happen.
The ultra-successful people have mastered a better percentage of good – 90-95%. You don’t need to aim for such high figures because it is usually a rigid, programmed and usually restrictive way of living – and is usually for a purpose (eg competing, professional bodybuilders).
It is also completely unrealistic. Especially for everyday life.
I’d rather focus on keeping things realistic and sustainable – for the majority of us who simply want to improve our health. It’s not our job to be healthy, but improving our health can improve our relationships, job and self confidence, so it’s something definitely worth working for.
Aim for 70-80% good, start where you are and work slowly and sustainably, allow for slip ups and get back up each time.
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Ever eaten food that’s been too delicious to stop? Nowadays our taste buds are under attack. It’s a full on war.
Let me introduce you to an era of foods known as hyperpalatable food: food that is so delicious that when you take a bite, you feel like you’ve been taken to a new world. Food that just hits the spot. Food that we end up craving, can easily overeat, and is oh-so-satisfying.
There is a chemical formula to creating foods like this. Certain combinations of flavours come together to completely and utterly annihilate your taste buds leaving no option but to have those dopamine shots exploding in your brain, making you even do a little dance with each bite. These are the foods even when you no longer feel hungry, find yourself craving or wanting and can always make space for.
Cake, bacon, chips, chocolate, Biscuits, burgers, milkshakes; have you ever wondered what makes them so tempting as opposed to craving apples, grilled fish, or spinach?
Hyperpalatable foods have played a big role in our increase in worldwide obesity – which was previously seen as a first world problem. Nowadays the rate of non-communicable disease has a faster growing rate in low and middle income countries. Especially since alot of these foods have found themselves internationally available – even the smallest village i know has access to Simba crisps and even Lays and Doritos.
According to Medscape.com, hyperpalatable foods are defined by foods that have combinations of:
Fat and sodium – for example, bacon and pizza; or
Fat and simple sugars – for example, cake and ice cream; or
Carbohydrates and sodium – for example, bread and chips.
Individually, these flavours are not inherently addictive – have you ever had a craving for a teaspoon of salt, or tablespoon of sugar? Or even a block of butter? Probably not. However when they are combined, they have a very super-tasty result. The food industry knows this and they try to take advantage of it so they can keep you eating and buying.
A glorious example is Doritos – or pick any of your favourite potato chip/crisps. Firstly, they have a combined sweet, salty, fat flavour bomb. Have you ever really wondered why it’s so hard to have one or two and just stop? It’s because the flavours are too delicious and designed to be. They are not only calorie dense, they are cheap, easy to access and are utterly irresistible
Your Taste Buds Are Skewed
Have you found that when you eat the normal food that “healthy people” talk about, the instinct is to not like it, or worse, to be disgusted by it? Or at the very least, find it boring, and not what you look forward to eating when you come home from work hungry.
That’s because your taste buds have gotten so used to the unnatural flavours of hyperpalatable foods that simple flavours that are usually associated with simple foods such as baked potatoes (plain starch), grilled steak with gravy (mostly protein with minimal fat, and some salt) and roasted veggies (plain carbs) – these will seem so boring.
These will not trigger the same dopamine spike you were used to. Due to your brain getting used to instant gratification in the form of these dopamine shots, you will instinctively not like them.
I know people who shun these foods because the claim they don’t eat to live, they “live to eat”. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with making your meal process enjoyable (mindfulness and joy all the way), do try to be mindful of the meals you have. Are you mindfully enjoying these foods or indulging in these foods because you need the taste/flavour?
Eating out is also a weight gain bomb for this very reason – most foods prepared outside the home are laden with fat,salt, sugar, and/or a combination of all those. It’s a reason why restaurant food is so delicious. Adding salt, sugar and fat in food is a cheap way to make food more delicious than it naturally is. It’s all in the annihilation of the taste buds and creating a hyper-natural experience that produces dopamine levels that you don’t usually get with homemade meals.
Reclaim Your Taste Buds – And Health
The risks of submitting to the widespread culture of regular consumption of hyperpalatable foods will be that you’re programming your taste buds to prefer instant gratification. It will also leave you less likely to prefer whole natural foods – high fibre, lean protein, satiating and nourishing.
If unchecked over a long period of time, due to the higher calorie content and lower nutrient, you are at a much higher risk to develop these metabolic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, obesity and some cancers).
Something happens when you decide to cut off these foods. In the beginning it will feel like an upward mountain – your body is now craving that dopamine it was used to. Choosing the lean steak over the fried chicken wings will be a test of willpower initially. Choosing a salad instead of mac and cheese will feel like lifting a 1000kg boulder. It’s all your brain playing tricks though.
Keep it up for a month or so and you “re-set” your taste buds – simple whole foods will become tasty once again, and you’ll need less additives such as salt,sugar and dressings to fully enjoy your meals.
You’ll begin to appreciate the taste of favouring foods with herbs and spices instead of salt, and find that when you once put 3 teaspoons of sugar in your tea turns to 1, that it tastes “equally” as delicious.
Then one day when you have a sip of a milkshake, because your taste buds have reset, the milkshake will actually become wayyy too sweet, to the point of disgust with more than 1 sip(this happened to me).
The reason to do this is that you will no longer be a slave to your cravings, to your urgent needs for a family sized bag of Doritos (which you can easily wipe by yourself). You will then be able to eat these foods on occasion and ENJOY them mindfully, instead of eating under a subconscious compulsion (which you may not be aware of).
And then the argument of balance becomes truly applicable – once in a while, when you eat these foods eg on a special occasion, as they should be eaten, it’ll be a memorable moment.
So how do we do this? There are strategies that you can implement in your life, however as with everything that you may wish to change, it begins with AWARENESS.
Audit your food environment
How many times a week do you have those chips? Or how many times a day? Do you always have a store of them in your house and graze all day? Do you indulge every tea time at work with those free cookies/pastries/cakes/fat cakes?
Reduce their presence in your common areas – work and home. Out of sight and out of mind, truly works in this case.
2. Change your normal diet + stay hydrated
As far as altering your normal diet, increasing your protein and fibre intake, will work to alleviate your hunger. You will feel less ravenous thus will have less of an impulse to dive into the whole box of Oreos.
Drinking plenty of water and reducing your added sugar intake is very helpful in reducing cravings and getting on a better track. This will make sure when you are hungry you are actually hungry rather than thirsty.
3. Non-food appetite control
Incorporate exercise in your routine if you haven’t or alter it if you already have. Activities such as HIIT training and resistance training can lower your appetite, and some such as steady state cardio (running, walking, swimming,aerobics, cycling) can actually increase your appetite. This is not to say stop walking and start Phil Heath’ing it up only – these are just some observations in terms of specific activities.
Of course ANY exercise is a positive step, so if you do love that aerobics class, you’re doing awesome and you should be proud of yourself. With any activity, the most important is to make sure you don’t eat back the calories you consumed if you are aiming to lose weight – it’s a common trap that I want you to avoid. Otherwise exercise is an excellent additive to regulate your hunger directly – plus your mood and emotions.
4. Tackle emotional eating
Emotional eating is such a huge hinder to most of us – and the relationship with emotion and food is a very complex one. The main thing to gather for yourself if to work on not attaching food to emotion and mental state – such as indulging when happy, or when sad, or when angry. Instead, try to find non-food ways to release those emotions.
How many movies do we see where the girl is dumped by her boyfriend, and in her sad, shattered state, grabs the 5L tub of chocolate caramel ice cream and has a night in. While completely unfortunate, when we do have emotional equivalents in our life (work stress,relationships, business etc), how often do we each and every time give in by heading for a hyperpalatable food.
Their ultra deliciousness feeds the vicious cycle – they give you the immediate, feel good high, are easily accessible, are reliable – after all, that cake is always going to be there and have your back, unlike that snake Susan.
In the moment where you feel an emotional craving to eat due to a particular feeling or mood, pay attention to what you are thinking, feeling and imagine how you will feel after eating the whole box of Oreos after having a large pepperoni pizza. Instead choose to do something else you equally enjoy – that has nothing to do with food. Call your best friend, listen to your favourite music, hug your pet, tell someone you care about that you appreciate them (PS when you express positivity to another person, you feel it too).
Even if you are unable to eliminate emotional eating, increasing it’s awareness is the first step towards overcoming it. As you eat these foods less and less, you will not only discover better ways to cope with emotions but also help reset your taste buds.
5. Sleep enough
Sleep plays a big role in appetite control – not enough sleep can make you overeat and give in to your hyperpalatable foods. Regular sleep patterns regulate your circadian rhythm and appetite. Give your pillow a chance to make it up to you. It’ll do you wonders.
In summary, these foods are around us at an increasing and alarming rate, but fret not because you have the ability to restore your taste buds once again, improve your health and come out smiling for it.
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Making small changes and choosing to focus on them will make achieving that weight loss goal. Sticking to the fundamentals as listed below will take you closer and closer to that goal.
Making these changes in the beginning may seem energy-consuming, but over time a double positive effect will happen – they become second nature so you’ll do them more automatically, plus when you start seeing your results, it creates positive reinforcement and makes you want to continue following these practices. So let’s just dive right in.
1. Drink Your Water
When you start staying fully hydrated, the differences in your mood and appetite will be as clear as night and day. The fact that majority of us drink mostly soft drinks, fruit juices, and teas and coffees loaded with hundreds of calories does us more disservice than we realise.
How many times do we drink plain water without fillers to make it taste good? Infusions with fruit/lemons are also as simple and as effective as drinking plain water. It’s the extra unneeded calories from fillers (creams, sugar etc) that take hydrating from an energising endeavour to a weight-gain hidden killer.
The great news? Making the swap to plain water will be enough to get you better results, clearer skin, improve your mood and will motivate you to do more.
2. Eat Low GI-Foods
Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index include foods like oats, legumes, wholewheat flour products (pasta, bread etc) have the extra benefit of not only stabilising blood sugar, they are satisfying (filling) and reduce hunger for hours.
This means you’ll be less hungry and be less likely to reach for the first thing you see or when you are about to go to sleep. Eating carbohydrates at night helps with sleep and will stop those midnight/2am fridge raids. Try it for a week and note the changes.
3. Make Your First Meal Of The Day Protein- And Fibre-Rich
Your first meal of the day is a time you can use to get ahead of your nutrition – you just woke up, have fresh energy, and your willpower is at its highest. As the day drags on, willpower gets depleted, and it’s harder and harder to give in to the temptations that come your way.
Eating a protein filled breakfast such an egg white omelette or a protein shake with oats, will not only give you a head start with eating enough protein for the day, but it will also keep you full for longer and also reduce hunger throughout the day. Win-win!
4. Avoid Foods That Are Difficult To Stop Eating
Have you ever had half a bag of Doritos? I mean actually ate half the bag and stopped, satisfied, then been able to walk away? Me neither.
Doritos, Oreos, chocolate cakes, candy, chocolate – I think most of us are aware to limit these because they fit the definition of “unhealthy” – in reality they are foods with limited nutritional value, and are hyperpalatable (combination of fat/sugar/salt that makes food ultra delicious – abnormally so) they are difficulty to stop.
There are everyday foods that have the same effect – there could be these junk foods in your house, or it could even be food accessories like peanut butter or nutella.
The idea is not to avoid them for their own sake, but because they serve as trigger foods and are hard to stop consuming. Overconsuming will keep you from making the progress you want.
Ways to apply this to everyday life is the old mantra of avoiding keeping junk food in your house. Only eat them when you eat out eg going out to celebrate, birthdays etc, or if you do buy for home – buy single serving sizes. Buy 1 magnum ice-cream instead of a 5L tub of ice cream, buy a slice of cake instead of a whole one.
5. Tell A Friend/Family Member To Keep You Accountable
Sharing your plan when you are about to take action with someone will keep you accountable because now you know someone else is expecting you to follow through. This will add as external motivation to keep going. Combining this with your own internal motivation will help you keep up the changes you decide to make, and this is what helps take you closer and closer to your goals.
Having someone to support you when you’re killing it, or to remind you when you might feel like quitting or stopping goes a long way in helping you achieve your goals. Get a buddy and tell them what you are doing, you want to reach target X by date Y. You will have someone to keep you on your toes, and you might even end up inspiring them when you stick to it and reach those goals!
These are the 5 tips to make things easier, however ultimately the work relies on you at the end of the day. One day at a time with the right mindset is the start to a reaching your weight loss goal.
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