Losing weight when you love food isn’t easy. Even if your relationship with food is healthy, if you love to experiment with recipes, try new foods, and eat out a lot, your waistline can soon start to pay the price. Many of us think that if we’re going to lose any weight, we need to give up, or drastically scale back on, our food-based hobbies, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some tips to help get the scale moving without having to give up the things you love.
A lot of the trendy diets involve cutting out whole food groups, like carbohydrates or dairy. For a food lover, this is never going to be sustainable. By making a drastic diet change like this, you may see good results at first, but if you’re going to maintain those results, you need to achieve them in a way you can sustain.
For example, if you lose weight by giving up carbohydrates, as soon as you start to eat them again (which you will), you’re likely to regain the weight. Instead, try to make changes that you can keep up when you’re in maintenance. Instead of cutting out carbs altogether, aim to eat fewer carbs.
Sustainable changes could include things like only eating carbs to refuel after exercise, or having a meat-free day a week, or eating smaller portions of the food groups other people cut out.
If you feel deprived, which any foodie would if they couldn’t eat something they enjoy, it will be much harder to stick to your diet and get good results. By making sustainable changes, you will have a much better chance of sticking to the diet and getting results that you can maintain. Keep the motivation going!
You’re a foodie, you know when food is good and when it isn’t. Save your treats for something that is really worth it. If you go to a birthday party, there’s nothing wrong with having a slice of cake, for example, but only do this if you know you’re going to really enjoy it. If the cake isn’t a flavour you really care for, then don’t bother.
Some people do well cutting out all sugary treats, but for other people, this is very difficult. Cutting out the majority of processed junk foods can really help, and you can still enjoy the odd piece of chocolate if you find that easier. Just make it a great quality bar, instead of a cheap, not very tasty one.
If you buy good quality treats, whether that’s sweets or bacon, you’ll be satisfied with less, as there’ll be plenty of flavour packed in there.
If you’re really struggling with cutting back, you could try meal or snack replacement products, like shakes, snack bars, and cereals. These can satisfy your sweet tooth without the calorie hit. For some people, meal shakes are an essential tool for helping them to stick to their diet.
Going out to eat at restaurants is often a very important hobby for the average food lover. You don’t need to give up your restaurant habit, but try to cut back. The reason restaurant food tastes so good is because the chefs don’t need to worry about your waistline, so will cook with lots of butter, double cream, cheese, and other delicious things that make food taste amazing. All these things taste great, but your meals much higher in calories.
When you eat out, you’re also likely to eat more than you would at home, especially if you’re in the habit of ordering multiple courses. Add on the wine or other alcohol, and you’re looking at a dinner that can undo a lot of your hard work on the diet.
You can still go to restaurants, but try to limit how often you go. Save them for special occasions or date night, rather than just because it’s a Wednesday and you don’t feel like cooking.
When you go to a restaurant, remember the making it worth it rules too. Order something you will really enjoy, so you go home satisfied, not worried that you ruined your diet by adding dressing to the sad salad you ordered to try to be good.
To make things even easier, when you know where you’re going to have dinner, take a look at the menu online before you go. This means you can spend some time thinking about what will satisfy you most and bring the most joy, while still meeting any diet goals you’ve set.
Takeaway and processed foods are high in calories and often low in nutrients and other good stuff. Even just cooking more yourself can drastically cut the number of calories that you consume.
By cooking yourself, you can use lots of neat tricks to cut the calorie without losing any flavour. Almost any meal can be bulked up with vegetables or salad, which means you can still have a generous plate of food that will leave you full, even if you are reducing the portion sizes of things like carbs on your plate.
You can make ingredient swaps, like making bolognese sauce with turkey mince or lean beef mince, instead of regular beef mince. Buy a spiraliser and experiment with making ‘spaghetti’ out of courgettes for something different but still delicious.
Cooking yourself gives you more control over what you eat, which makes it much easier to make healthy choices that you still like eating. You have control over the cooking process too, meaning you can use less cooking oil or salt while cooking, making your dish much healthier in a very easy way.
Some people do well without snacking, but for lots of us, we need a snack in the mid-afternoon to stop us heading to the vending machine for a sugar hit to keep us going through the rest of the day until dinner time.
Be honest with yourself. Are you a snacker? If you are, that’s fine, just plan for it. If you plan your snacks, you can make sure you have a tasty, healthy snack on hand, and won’t be tempted to visit the biscuit tin, the vending machine, or the shop for some chocolate.
If you work in an office, pack a healthy snack in your lunchbox or keep some options in your desk. Plain popcorn, fruit, apple slices with peanut butter, veggies with hummus, boiled eggs, nuts, kale chips, and greek yoghurt with berries all make delicious snacks that are good for you. If you have these on hand, you’re less likely to opt for snacks like crisps or sweets just because you’re hungry.
A lot of us skip breakfast in favour of having a little more time in bed or to get ready in the morning. The problem with this is that you start the day running on empty and by mid-morning, you’re starving, and are likely to make an unhealthy choice to see you through until lunchtime.
Eat breakfast and breakfast well. Make a big bowl of oatmeal, or eat something like fruit and yoghurt, or avocado on whole-grain toast. You’ll be fuelled up for the day on something nutritious and tasty, and will be able to concentrate better and feel full until lunch-time, with no morning snack required.
It’s easy to overlook drinks, but they have calories too and making a few changes to your drinking habits can make a lot of difference.
If you’re a fan of sugar-laden, fancy coffee drinks, you’re adding a lot of calories to your day. Keep these drinks as an occasional treat. Instead, make your own coffee, and try to learn to drink it without sugar. If you drink tea, try to cut out the sugar in it too. If you really can’t drink it without sugar, try to drink less tea or coffee, and instead swap to herbal or fruit teas for something different.
Be careful with fruit juice, as these are often packed with sugar. Read the ingredients list, and watch out for words like ‘fructose’, which is just another word for sugar. Alcohol is also a diet-ruiner, so try to cut back on alcoholic drinks as much as possible.
Instead of these drinks that sneak in calories, aim to drink more water. If you’re drinking plenty of water, you’ll feel more alert, be better able to concentrate, have better-hydrated skin, have better functioning organs, and will feel fuller. Drinking lots of water can also help to flush out any water weight and bloat that you’re holding onto, making you feel slimmer before you’ve lost a single pound. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, buy a diffuser bottle, and experiment with adding different fruits, vegetables, and herbs into it to make it taste more interesting without turning to sugary squashes and other drinks.
With some easy changes to the way you think about food, you can lose weight, without giving up what you love.