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We are all guilty of overindulging from time to time. In fact, many of us are guilty of eating too much and too much of the wrong things far too often. But, in our time-strapped lives, how is it possible to stop that without signing up to a restrictive dietary regime? The key is to make a series of smaller changes that add up to a big difference, which we explore below.
To get the quickest results to your eating regime, it’s best to try all these out at once. But that could end up being overwhelming, so try to introduce just one or two at a time if that is the case with you.
One of the biggest culprits that make people put on weight unnecessarily is simple portion control Too many of us eat too much at mealtimes and throughout the day - which we do not burn off with exercise. The result is that our body stores the extra energy as fat making those numbers on the scale creep up slowly. Even people who eat relatively healthily need to be careful about how much they eat.
Knowing what is a healthy portion size is therefore key at meal times - though hard to do, especially in our day and age when food is so cheap that it is so easy to make more than necessary at every meal. A good option, instead of having to weigh out your food, is to use a meal recipe kit as all food delivered is pre portioned - reducing waste too.
Ask yourself how many times you eat when you are truly hungry. Most of us don’t. A lot of us eat when bored, many of us eat out of habit and some of us love to comfort feed ourselves. These are all extremely common, and understandable, but it can mean that we overeat. Eating when we don’t really need to is a quick way to put on weight - though it’s easy to reverse. Many dieticians will advocate eating when you are at about 7 on a scale of 1 - 10 of hunger. 10 being starving hungry. It will prevent you from eating more than you need and make you listen to your body.
Many of us put on weight slowly, yet expect to be able to lose weight quickly. If you think about it, why would it be that losing weight quickly is possible? To answer that, some of us look to fad diets. However, long term they have been shown to be highly ineffective and actually cause people to put on more weight over the long term. All that happens is, when you stop following the diet, you pile the weight back on again. It’s because you haven’t made sustainable dietary lifestyle changes that all add up to a healthier approach to eating.
All fad diets are, are a quick fix that arguably do more harm than good. Again, this is where meal kits can come in very useful as they make food interesting while giving users the ability to meal plan for the week - ensuring that they have chosen delicious meals that stops them from reaching for sugar and fat-laden convenience food.
Another way to stop yourself from reaching for the cake, crisps or biscuits, is to ensure that you are hydrated. Dehydration is sometimes displayed in the body as us feeling hungry - when actually we are simply a bit parched. Try to drink around 8 tall glasses of water a day to ensure that when you do eat, you really are just eating because you are hungry.
Water is filling too so it will stop you from overeating and ingesting more than you need as well. If you struggle to remember to drink all those glasses in one day, a good tip can be to carry around a water bottle with you and ensure you’ve drunk the contents by the end of the day.
Given that a lot of us rarely eat when we are truly hungry, it can be really helpful to try to understand why you eat when you eat. Knowing your triggers can help you change your approach to eating drastically. If you find that you are eating late at night a lot, ask yourself why. Or if you realise you are eating because you are bored, try to find something to entertain yourself, other than eating.
Of course, many of us have strong emotional attachments to food and comfort eating is exceedingly common. If you eat when you are down, it can be so helpful to look at your mental health and see whether any work on how you react to outside pressures may stop you eating poorly.
One of the best things you can do to keep yourself on the straight and narrow when it comes to healthy meals is to be kind to yourself if you veer off the straight and narrow. It is a very common reaction in people that, when they fall off the dieting bandwagon, they do not see any point getting back on. This is so often the case when it comes to diets that materially restrict what people can eat.
The result is that when people do have a small bite of what is not allowed, the feeling of failure is massively magnified. It becomes a self-destructive circle when really we all have days where we are eating more. If you allow yourself to have the odd few days where your healthy eating is a little more slack, then you’ll have the strength to get back to eating better more quickly.
Processed and convenience food has drastically altered how a lot of us interact with food. As opposed to the times when we all cooked from scratch, knowing exactly what was in our food, now we buy food on the go - unsure of what is in it. If we did know, it’s actually likely the sight of the ingredients would put us off. The majority of convenience food is almost drowning in sugar and salt, plus a lot of it contains a huge amount of oil.
Making your own food may be a little more time-consuming, but it will stop you from eating more nasties than you should be. You won’t add preservatives for example, or any food colourings. If cooking is not your thing, trying out a meal kit delivery service could be helpful as it takes so much of the admin out of preparing food. It’s all delivered to your door without the need to trawl supermarket aisles to get meals on your table.
Eating well is a way that we can all ensure we stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Putting on weight slowly over the years is extremely common given how much we all eat in comparison to the more sedentary lifestyle that many of us now lead. However, by making as many of the small changes to our diets as possible from above, we give ourselves the opportunity to eat healthily for good.