We all recognise that losing weight will involve some changes to the way we eat, but some people have strong associations between dieting and deprivation. Those who’re used to hearty meals (and who have the figure to match!) are often reluctant to “go on a diet” because they think it will mean living on salad: “I can’t lose weight because I’ll be hungry all the time.”
In fact, a healthy, sustainable diet should definitely not have you ready to gnaw your own arm off in hunger. The best way to lose weight is to cut back by 500-1000 calories a day, allowing you to lose 1-2lbs per week. The first few days may be harder as your body adjusts to less food, but you should only be feeling rather peckish before mealtimes, rather than suffering hours of hunger.
How to cut down on “expensive calorie” foods
Keep a food diary for a week and look for any obvious ways to reduce calories without unhealthy diet practices (such as skipping meals, or surviving on a single apple for lunch – you’ll be trading short-term gains for long-term yo-yo dieting.) This means cutting out foods which don’t fill you up and which “cost” a lot of calories.
Easy targets to zap from your diet are things like:
- Bags of crisps: a packet of Doritos or Kettle Chips has 200 calories.
- Chocolate bars: a standard mars bar has 260 calories – as much as many low-fat sandwiches.
- Dessert: have a bowl of stewed fruit or fruit salad instead.
- Shop-bought sandwiches: these often have 500-600 calories. You can cut this in half by buying from a low-calorie range, or by taking your own lunch into work (if the latter, you’ll save money too.)
Good “calorie bargain” foods to fill you up
There are plenty of things which are filling and “cheap” on calories. Some of my favourites are:
- Apples: 50 cals for a small apple. If you tend to overeat in the evenings, try having one before dinner to take the edge off your appetite.
- Cereal bars: a great mid-morning snack to fill the gap between breakfast and lunch. Also a good biscuit-substitute (many are quite sweet and some even have chocolate in…)
- Crispbreads (such as Ryvitas): 30 cals a slice. Four of these seem just as filling as two thick slices of bread, but for far fewer calories.
- Rice cakes: like crispbreads, about 30 calories a slice. Eat the flavoured ones plain for a quick snack if you’re starting to get hungry long before a meal is due.
- Stir fries: I’m particularly fond of vegetable, prawns and noodles. This is really filling for about 400 calories.
This is the last post in the excuse-busting series. You’re out of reasons not to make those health-improving lifestyle changes that you’ve been putting off – good luck!
(Photo above by mdavidford)