1. Log, log, log!
A food diary can be a useful tool in the weight loss process. The evidence shows that keeping a written log of your food and drink intake can be beneficial when it comes to weight loss. The simple act of writing down what you eat can help increase self-awareness, which may lead you to make healthier choices. It can help you understand your eating habits and patterns, and help you identify the foods you eat on a regular basis which may or may not be impacting your weight.
You should find a method which works for you and consider which factors you would like to log. As a starting point, consider logging the type of food, the quantity and the time. If you feel able to go one step further, try logging you mood and feelings alongside this.
2. Incorporate self-compassion into your life
Self-compassion is simply compassion directed towards yourself. It entails being warm and more understanding toward ourselves in times when we feel we have failed or feel inadequate, rather than kicking ourselves when we are down.
It’s extremely easy to fall into a pattern of negative self-talk and beating ourselves up, especially when you’re not getting the weight loss results you want.But research has found that self-criticism only sabotages us and produces a variety of negative consequences such as anxiety and depression. Being kind and compassionate to yourself daily is one of the best things you can do for yourself. This will improve your mood and well-being, your self-esteem and more importantly help with weight loss.
Here are some tips which will help you be more compassionate towards yourself:
1. Be kind to yourself - Why not start by treating yourself like a good friend and see what happens?
2. Embrace your common humanity – When we are struggling, it can often feel like you are the only person in the whole world to have ‘failed’ or to have this shortcoming. However, its vital to remember that nobody is perfect, in fact we are all imperfect. We all suffer and fail from time to time.
3. Be mindful - Learn to be mindful of uncomfortable or uneasy feelings instead of pushing them away. Practice mindfulness by simply tolerating and reflecting on these feelings.
Being compassionate towards yourself can feel unnatural at first, but stick with it.
3. Get moving
We should all take part in some form of physical activity every day. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Any type of activity which makes your heart and lungs work harder counts! We should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. If you are struggling to meet this weekly target or if your just not there yet, then start by trying to move a little more and try to reduce the time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.
Examples of activity include walking, swimming, cycling or jogging. Household chores can count too! Mowing your lawn, hoovering, playing with the kids or grandchildren -- it all counts
The NHS also recommends doing strengthening activities on at least 2 days a week. This is activity that works all the major muscles. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include yoga, pilates, lifting weights, using a resistance bands and doing exercises which use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups.
4. Improve your sleep hygiene
There is plenty of research to indicate that a lack of sleep is a risk factor for gaining weight. Sleep deprivation can cause a change in our gut hormones; ghrelin and leptin which play a large part in regulating our appetite. For example, the hunger hormone ghrelin increases when we are tired and that is associated with being hungry. When we are tired, unfortunately we tend not to recognise the real reason for which we are eating. In this case, we usually turn to food as it gives us energy but we also tend to choose high calorie, convenience foods. If this occurs regularly, it can negatively affect our weight loss attempts.
Poor sleep causes the body to produce more insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. Higher levels of these hormones can prompt us to store more energy as fat, especially around the abdomen.
In addition, not getting enough sleep affects our body’s sensitivity to the insulin it produces. Insulin is needed to turn the food we eat into energy. When our body becomes less sensitive to the insulin, we are unable to effectively use the food we are eating. Reduced insulin sensitivity along with poor sleep create a perfect opportunity for weight gain as well as metabolic disorders like diabetes.
Sleep hygiene consists of a variety of different practices which are necessary in order to have a normal, good quality night’s sleep. There are several ways to improve your sleep hygiene:
5. Don’t underestimate the effect of protein
The evidence shows that eating a higher protein diet, can help you feel fuller (satiated) for longer and also to help reduce cravings, both of which lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake. Protein also helps to reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, while it increases the appetite-reducing hormones.
Additionally, protein has a much higher thermic effect compared to other food groups. The thermic effect is when some calories are used for the purpose of digesting and breaking down the food. The high thermic effect of protein means that a large number of calories are burned whilst breaking down the protein.
Sufficient protein intake is an important aspect of post bariatric surgery nutrition. Post-surgery patients are recommended to have between 60-80g of protein after a certain time has passed following their surgery.
This can be difficult to achieve if you are unsure what protein rich foods are. Intolerance of certain forms of protein can also lead to an insufficient protein intake. If you feel your protein intake is low or you are struggling to meet your protein requirements due to intolerance issues, please get in touch.
6. Aim for slow and steady weight loss
When you are trying to lose weight, it's tempting to want immediate fast results. But the evidence shows people who lose weight too fast end up putting it back on again and generally end up weighing heavier than before.
It’s best to stick to a plan which will help you lose weight at a safe rate of 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) per week. Losing weight at a faster rate than this can increase your risk of health problems, including malnutrition and gallstones. It can also cause you to lose muscle mass, making you feel tired and unwell and potentially slowing down your metabolism.
Lose the pounds slowly. Slow and steady wins!