New Year, new you… right? Now that the holiday season has wrapped up and the New Year has begun, we tend to have an urge to start fresh and work on our new personal goals, which may include weight loss. Weight loss is a common resolution, especially if we believe we overeat throughout the holidays. The wellness industry capitalizes on this way of thinking by bombarding us with messages about diets, detoxes, weight loss challenges and other food-based resolutions. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with wanting to lose some weight, but the problem lies in the way that we approach it. If weight loss is your goal, ending up at a weight you can comfortably maintain is more important than starving yourself to reach a specific number on the scale.
1) Add foods back into your diet:
We're always focusing on what we shouldn’t eat, you know, those “bad” foods that we cut from our diet when we’re trying to be “good.” Restricting foods often leads to feelings of deprivation that can lead to intense cravings and eventually binge eating. Instead, stop unnecessarily cutting out foods and give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods.
2) Enjoy your food:
If you aren’t getting enjoyment and satisfaction from the foods you eat, healthy eating will only get you so far. In fact, not enjoying the healthy food may even lead to overeating. Being full and being satisfied are two very different things. Eating enough satiating foods like protein, fibre and healthy fats can make a big difference to feeling satisfied, as well as eating foods you actually enjoy. Remember, your diet doesn't need to be perfect. Aim to nourish both your body and mind for ultimate satisfaction.
3) Listen to your body:
Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues, and eat when you are hungry. Contrary to popular belief, a growling stomach is not a good thing. It means you have waited too long to eat and have missed the early signs of hunger. This can lead to increased cravings and decreased energy. There is nothing wrong with adding a mid-morning or mid-after- noon snack if you are hungry; this can help tide you over to the next meal and help prevent overeating later in the day.
4) Move your body:
Exercise doesn’t have to be unenjoyable. Instead of exercising only to burn calories or “work off” the food you ate, shift your mindset around exercise and think of it as a form of self-care. Exercise because you enjoy it and its positive effects, such as increased energy, improved mood, improved sleep quality, etc. Any form of movement you enjoy counts, such as walking, yard work, yoga, dancing, etc. The best exercise for you is the one you enjoy!
5) Get back to the basics:
Healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. Instead of jumping on the latest diet craze, supplement or “superfood,” aim to balance your plate with whole grains, healthy fats, fruits/vegetables and lean protein.
Remember, you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. One snack, one meal, or one day of eating is not going to make or break anything. In other words, it’s your overall eating pattern, what you consistently eat over time, that counts. If you want to adjust your eating pattern, take it one step at a time. Small steps can make a big difference in creating lasting change. For example, if you currently don’t eat a lot of fruits or vegetables, try adding a fruit or vegetable to one meal or snack once a day.
The bottom line: Quick weight loss is often not sustainable and building new healthier habits doesn’t happen overnight. Our bodies change over time, so maybe your goal weight from when you were in your 20s or 30s is no longer realistic.
Remember, your best weight is the weight that you can achieve when you are living the healthiest lifestyle you can sustain AND enjoy.
Brittany Butland provides Dietitian Services at Horizon’s Albert County Community Health Centre. For more tips on nutrition and healthy eating, you can book an appointment with Brittany at 506-882-3100.