Thursday 23 November 2017

Doctor's orders: Losing it for the summer

Week one is always particularly tough, so try to avoid the obvious pitfalls

Temptation: One of the pitfalls is snacking in the evening. Breaking this cycle is important
Temptation: One of the pitfalls is snacking in the evening. Breaking this cycle is important
Dr Ciara Kelly

Dr Ciara Kelly

Hopefully you've just completed week one of your new 'slimmer for summer' project, and embraced - like many of our columnists - a new regime of healthy eating and getting active, so you can feel fitter, lighter and better come mid-June.

Losing weight, for a lot of people, is often tied to issues of self-esteem; so, as we lose weight, in addition to feeling more energetic, we also feel more positive and confident about ourselves. Is that a good thing?

Well, yes and no. I wouldn't knock the feelgood factor that getting on top of bad habits and seeing the pounds coming off gives you. But equally, I don't like people to feel their self-worth is diminished because they're carrying a few extra pounds either.

I also think when your self-worth is tied to a number on a scales, it gives you an unhealthy relationship with food. So that if you do slip up and fall off the wagon with a few fig rolls, you then feel like a failure and end up devouring the entire contents of your fridge.

Week one of any change in routine is always a bit funny. For some people, it's when they're at their most motivated - throwing themselves into new regimes that can border on starvation and are very difficult to sustain over time. It's all about extremes and yo-yo dieting.

For others, week one is very difficult, with every day they stick to the plan hard won, as they struggle to get used to new meal plans and smaller portion sizes.

One of the common pitfalls in week one of a healthy eating plan (I hate the word diet, it has all sorts of negative connotations) is with snacking in the evening.

Lots of people manage to stick rigidly to a plan all day (I also hate the term 'be good' which has a truck-load of guilt attached to it and that's not helpful) but come the evening when they're sitting down, a heady combination of hunger, boredom and habit, sends many people to the kitchen to browse the cupboards, to see what they can sneak in, at the end of the day, by way of reward for earlier sacrifices.

Breaking this cycle is really important. As people often start off nibbling just a couple of rich tea or a bowl of cornflakes but then - as they feel they're losing control of the days eating plan - they end up eating far more high-fat, high-sugar foods too. The problem with that is that your evening time snacking will have wiped out any weight loss obtained by sensible eating earlier in the day, and may, in fact, have caused you to actually put on weight. And there's nothing more soul-destroying than setting out to lose weight and ending up putting it on. And food eaten in the evening, with no time to burn it off, turns quickly to storage as fat.

Beat evening snacks with these simple tips. Firstly, I've said it before but I'm saying it again because it's important: eat breakfast! It makes you less hungry - all day. Secondly, in the same way I advised you last week, to stock the cupboards with healthy food options, this week I want you to bin or give away any unhealthy temptations you've squirreled away. If it's not there - you can't eat it!

And lastly and most importantly, will power! The first few times you've to resist that bikkie with a late cuppa are genuinely hard but as you keep resisting, it gets much easier. We'll talk more about habits next week but will power, grit and determination are how bad habits are broken and good habits are formed. A couple of days of digging deep and evening time snacking can be a thing of the past. Keep up the good work.


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