5 Weight Loss Tips A Dietitian Wants You To Know
Written by Stefanie Valakas APD (Accredited Practicing Dietitian), known as The Dietologist (formerly “dietitiantobe”). Check out her brand new website www.thedietologist.com.
At Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy in Belfield, we proudly work in a multidisciplinary team to achieve effective and optimal outcomes in all aspects of life.
There’s no doubt about it, most of the Western world faces issues when it comes to weight. Everyone has a different idea about how to shed some kilos, from your neighbour’s cousin going on a low-carb diet to your best friend doing a juice “detox”.
But, what works best for YOU? Let’s just say it isn’t any of the above! It is so specific to your age, body size, goals, activity levels, occupation, medical condition/s, cultural background, budget, food likes and dislikes… the list goes on.
So instead, I’m going to equip you with some basic knowledge so you can re-align your expectations before tackling your weight loss goals
Here are the 5 things a dietitian wants you to know about losing weight
1. Is your goal realistic?
I am all about aspirational or “shoot for the star” goals. However, if your goal isn’t achievable then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and even failure.
So what is realistic?
5-10% of your current body weight is considered a sustainable amount of weight to lose within about a year. Another indicator is about 0.5-1 kg of weight loss per week.
For your long-term goal, in general, your minimum adult body weight is a reasonable and achievable goal (that is your lowest weight as an adult).
If you’re up for some maths – another way to work out it is to calculate the upper end of the healthy BMI (24.9 kg/m2) and use your height, to find out what your healthy weight would be. A dietitian can work this out for you, if a calculator isn’t your best friend and to determine whether BMI would be an appropriate way to track your progress (it isn’t right for everyone).
Check out LILO’s blog about SMART goal setting here.
2. Understand (then beat) the diet-binge cycle
Often when you’re in a position where you’re looking to lose weight, your relationship with food is not the best. If you have an awareness and understanding of the diet-binge cycle below you’ll be able to tap into your emotions around food and design strategies to work around it.
The first step is to stop labeling food as “good” and “bad”, which is difficult as often you’ve grown up with these ideas. Certainly, there are some foods provide more essential nutrition for your body than others, however, some provide nourishment for your mind, and your mental health is just as important!
The second step is to get rid of food rules, don’t focus on what you cannot have but what you can add to your diet that will make it more nutritious. Eating more nutritious foods such as fruit and vegetables (especially the non-starchy leafy kind) will naturally displace the less nutritious foods in your diet. Once you train yourself to view food in an equal way, you eliminate any feelings of guilt because you haven’t broken any food rules (because they don’t exist!) Working with binging or emotional eating triggers may require more in-depth conversation with a dietitian and a psychologist.
3. Know your basic physiology when it comes to hunger
I hate to say it, but your body doesn’t want you to lose weight. Our genes haven’t had the opportunity to catch up to our over-abundant food environment just yet. We’re built to resist starvation. So when your body fat stores start to shrink (through healthful weight loss strategies NOT starvation!), your body will kick up your hunger and other mechanisms to strive to maintain those stores – in the case of an impending famine (which isn’t actually ever coming).
So how do you beat this natural instinct to eat more when you’re losing weight? Well, some would just say “will power”, but that isn’t helpful in the long run. It’s time to tune into your hunger signals!
Can you tell when you’re hungry? What does it actually feel like? Is your tummy grumbling or are you losing concentration? Or do you eat when it’s a certain time of the day? The trick is to tune into these signals so you don’t let yourself get too hungry, or let yourself get to the “I’m stuffed full” stage after a meal.
Check out my post about hungry and hangry here.
4. Small changes count
How many times have you promised yourself of eating better tomorrow? Or starting a new diet or meal plan on Monday? How long did that last? Yeah, not that long, I thought so.
It doesn’t mean you’re not disciplined or motivated. It just means there are too many changes, and they aren’t becoming habits. Start with small changes (such as switching from normal soft drink to diet soft drink before moving onto water), and persist with one or two small changes for a few weeks until they become habits. Once they’re habits, then you can move onto another set of small changes.
These may feel too small to reach your goal, however for a slow, gradual and maintainable weight loss – this is the best strategy.
5. Be kind to yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself. Be prepared to fall off the bandwagon, and just get back on again. There’s no need to beat yourself up about it, just do better at your next meal/snack or the next day. Don’t be convinced that this has messed up your “diet”, remember there isn’t one and there are no “rules”. All food has a role in your life, just keep going!
If you’re interested in having a university-qualified health professional help you reach your weight loss goals by catering to your individual needs, contact Stefanie at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, have a read of her blog posts over at www.thedietologist.com