STICKING to a diet is never easy – they can often be boring, monotonous and usually unsustainable.
Yet as tough as it can be, many people see gruelling diets as the only solution for losing weight.
But experts say while it can be common to see food as the enemy, it doesn’t have to be the answer to shedding the pounds.
Tamara Willner, nutritionist at Second Nature, warns there is a big difference between making healthy, sustainable changes to your lifestyle and fad diets.
She said: “Failing to achieve unrealistic goals isn’t simply due to a lack of willpower.
“Instead, it’s that the wrong goals are being sold to people again and again.
“That’s why most people ditch their New Year’s resolutions after just a few weeks.
“You don’t need to punish or starve yourself in January to achieve your goals – especially not when we have lockdown to contend with too.
You don’t need to punish or starve yourself in January to achieve your goals – especially not when we have lockdown to contend with too
“There is so much more to weight loss than what we eat. Small habits all add up to influence our weight over a long period of time.
“This can include how much sleep we get, to how we are coping with stress and whether we plan our meals.”
Tamara said that being healthy also doesn’t have to mean missing out – and skipping treats could just set you up to fail.
Change your lifestyle
Second Nature is an NHS-backed 12-week programme, designed to help you live a healthier lifestyle, whilst still enjoying a glass of wine – and chocolate.
“January is dull enough as it is without limiting ourselves to feeling hungry, not having enough energy and ultimately setting yourself up to fail,” Tamara said.
“Instead, make your New Year’s goals about you, and not your waistline.”
She added: “Fall back in love with food, don’t count every single thing you eat, enjoy warming homemade meals and indulge in a glass of wine or two – even chocolate is allowed.
“So, let’s do things differently this January. Don’t torture yourself, don’t deny yourself and don’t start a diet that you won’t stick at.”
There are plenty of things you can do to benefit your health, small steps that once you’ve implemented, will become positive habits.
Rather than embarking on another fad diet, why not try these 15 alternatives to hit your weight loss goals…
- Snack on exercise – add in short bursts of activity throughout the day. Try squats when brushing your teeth, wall push ups in the ad break, run on the spot while making a cuppa.
- Limit alcohol to the weekends
- Avoid caffeine after midday so you sleep better at night
- Start each morning with a 10-minute walk
- Swap fruit juice, squash or sugary drinks for water, tea, coffee and milk
- Eat more at mealtimes so you are full and resist the urge to snack
- Avoid labelling foods as good or bad – all food is energy, some are just more nourishing than others
- Ditch the ‘all or nothing’ mindset – accept you won’t make perfect choices all the time but know that’s how you progress
- Swap milk or white chocolate for 70 per cent dark choc when you fancy something sweet
- Try a new vegetable every week – go for ones you’ve never had before and keep it colourful
- Make a shopping list before going to the supermarket to avoid spontaneous purchases
- Ask a buddy to meet you for a walk twice a week
- Find alternative outlets for your emotions (other than just comfort eating) – try puzzles, podcasts, chatting to a friend or crosswords
- While WFH make sure you stand up every hour and one minute of activity – squats, star jumps, stretches or run on the spot, it soon adds up
- Don’t ban foods – allow yourself to eat certain foods when you really fancy them but take your time and enjoy the treat!
Our campaign is backed by Fabulous GP, Dr Zoe Williams, Dr Rupy Aujla, bestselling author of The Doctor’s Kitchen, and Health Action Campaign.
And don’t just take our word for it – earlier this week we shared mum-of-three Toni Weeks’ weight loss journey.
The 51-year-old, of Leighton Buzzard, Beds, weighed 22st and had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before turning to Second Nature.
In just 12 weeks, Toni, a technical account manager, dropped from a size 22 to a 16 – without dieting.
Fast forward a year, and in August 2019, Toni’s GP confirmed her type 2 diabetes was in remission and she now weighs 10st 6lb and is a size 12.