Ever given up on a diet because you were fed up of eating the same old meals? Well you're not alone. Boredom and restricted food choice came in second (after stress) in our recent members' poll on the top reasons we fall off the diet wagon. It appears that following a restrictive weight loss plan in the short term resulted in giving up in the long run, and not achieving weight loss goals.
Choosing a weight loss plan with lots of rules and restrictions is probably setting yourself up for a fall. It can quickly become repetitive, leaving you feeling hungry and craving all the foods you can't have. Any diet plan that stops you having what you love and makes it difficult to eat and socialise with friends and family is unlikely to last for very long!
Often when people decide to lose weight, their expectation is that they must limit their food choices and exclude treats until they've reached their goal. This is not to be recommended! Research has shown that such an approach will actually have a negative effect and cause more cravings and overeating.
A study carried out at the University of Toronto looked at the effects of certain food cravings in restrictive and non-restrictive eaters. The 103 participants were split into three groups; chocolate-deprived, vanilla-deprived or non-deprived. The results found that the restrictive eaters who had been deprived chocolate, ate the most chocolate out of all the groups when they were able to. It was also noted that restrained eaters experienced more cravings than their non-restrained counterparts.
A further study carried out at the Wageningen University, in The Netherlands looked at the effect of eating a small amount of a treat food versus a much larger amount on food cravings. This study included 104 participants who were given a small amount of either chocolate, apple pie or potato chips or a much larger amount of each food. The results of this study found that a short while after eating the foods, participants were equally satisfied by either the smaller portion or larger portion.
The results of both of these studies show that overly restricting what you can eat can actually lead to greater cravings, and that having a little of what you fancy really will do the trick!
It's completely possible to lose weight happily and sustainably with Nutracheck, without the need to ever get bored. We operate a 'no banned foods' policy which means you can continue to eat all the foods you love and still lose weight. As long as you count your treats in your daily calorie allowance, you will be on track with your weight loss.
Here are my top 4 tips to ensure you don't get bored and can truly make this a lifestyle change and not a diet:
1. Don't completely exclude specific foods or food groups. As we've seen from the research mentioned above, being too restrictive runs the risk of leading to more cravings and overeating. There is no need to ban foods from your diet. Having a good mix of all the main food groups so carbohydrates, fats and proteins, as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables and the occasional treat is the best way to get a good balance of nutrients and stay satisfied. If your weakness is chocolate, find a way to have a little bit each day if needed. Just a treat sized bar to satisfy your cravings should do the trick and will only cost you around 100 calories.
2. Continue to go out for meals and have the odd takeaway. It's fine to eat out and order in a takeaway, even when trying to lose weight. Many restaurants chains have made their nutritional information available, so you can plan what to choose and factor it into your calorie allowance for the day. We have the calorie info for many restaurants and popular takeaway foods listed in the Eating Out section of our App and food diary website. As long as you compensate for your meal by adjusting the other foods you eat throughout the day, you will still be on track with your weight loss. It's important to continue to have these treats even when trying to lose weight, as it's a realistic way to live. Not allowing yourself these treats will soon lead to boredom and going off the rails.
3. Vary what you are eating regularly. Try not to fall into the trap of eating the same things day in day out. There are so many foods and meals you can try, and none of them are off limits. Try setting yourself the task of trying at least one new recipe per week, to ensure you try new ingredients. There are hundreds of calorie counted meals in our 'Meals/Recipe' section for you to try, and many recipe websites supply the nutritional content of their meals now too - so there is no excuse for not trying something new!
4. Vary your exercise. Okay so it's not specifically related to your diet, but exercise is very important for weight loss success. Just like your foods, it's good to get into the habit of varying or progressing the type of exercise you do. Try a new class at the gym, or give a new exercise DVD a go - it will make exercising so much more interesting if it's not just the same routine each week.
So as you can probably guess by now, not eating your favourite foods is a big no-no in the weight loss game. With Nutracheck you can eat all your favourite foods and still lose weight. Just track your calories and stay within the allowance that is set for you and you can lose up to 2lbs per week, happily and healthily. Of course we encourage you to try and make the most of your calories by making healthier choices where you can - you can get a lot more apple for 100 calories than you can chocolate! And it also good to try and make every calorie count in terms of its nutritional benefit for you. But it's still okay to work a little of your favourite foods into your allowance to stop you getting bored and losing track.
Nutritionist Emma Brown, MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.