Some folks I know are on a very strict diet – an extreme reduction of carbs and an abundance of lean protein. I’m in their company fairly regularly, and have noticed they often look at a spread of all kinds of delicious food and say about most of it, “I can’t eat that”.
The pounds have dropped off quickly, but the track record of this kind of diet is not good. Well, the track record for any kind of weight-loss program is not very good – studies have shown that about 95% of those who lose weight gain it back. But most of the failures may be traced to the idea that dieters will drastically change their eating habits, and once they’ve lost weight, they are wanting to “get off” their diet. Many dieters haven’t followed a program that they can (or are willing to) live with.
I saw a Weight Watchers ad today, and it impressed me: “When you don’t give up the foods you love, you’re less likely to give up.” Take a look at that photo at the top of this article. If you are trying to shed some pounds, and you look at a showcase like that, and say, “I can’t eat that”, then you could be setting yourself up for failure. To go months without giving yourself a chance to indulge a bit is oh-so-difficult, and usually unnecessary (unless you are diabetic or have other health issues precluding such).
I’ve managed to get down to my goal weight by eating sensibly; fairly-closely following the First Place 4 Health (www.firstplace4health.com) guidelines, which adhere to those of the food pyramid (www.mypyramid.gov ). Maybe once a week, I’ll veer off course for a meal, and not feel a bit guilty about it. At other meals, I practice mindful eating, putting on my plate the portion sizes I know I should have, and stopping when the food is gone, not when I’m stuffed. I’m not full, but I know I’ve had enough. By eating this way over a several-month period, the less-than-healthy things I used to crave no longer have a hold on me. I can – and do – enjoy some of them on occasion, but I’m satisfied with a lot less than was my habit in the past.
I’m not a chemist or a nutritionist, but my own experience has shown me that some self-discipline exercised may be hard at first, but it gets easier, and I’m thinking it must involve some internal changes that beat those cravings into submission. But also, just knowing I am free to have some fried shrimp with a little tartar sauce, and enjoy a garlic/parmesan biscuit or two once in a while makes the road easier to travel, and stay on. And the wagon is always close by for me to get back on when I take a minor detour!