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10 tips for long term weight loss

Kate Freeman

Losing weight seems like it should be reasonably simple.

It’s just a matter of making the energy we eat from food less than the energy we expend through our metabolism and physical activity. Right?

This is fundamentally true, but there is so much more to the journey of losing weight than just maintaining a negative energy balance.

Here are a few pieces of advice to help you along your way:

Set positive goals

Instead of setting a goal to not eat ‘junk’ food, set a goal to eat more healthier food (fruit, vegetables, raw nuts, wholes grains, unprocessed dairy/meat etc). When we set goals to eat food rather than not eat food, we find that when snack time comes around we are too busy making sure we achieve our goal that we don’t have time to choose something that’s not good for us.

Focussing on eating certain foods helps ‘push’ unhelpful foods out of your diet. Filling up on healthy foods makes it much easier to say ‘no thanks’ when the packet of Tim Tams pops out at the work afternoon tea!

Keep enjoying your favourite foods

If you are trying to lose weight, it’ll be vital to your success to keep your intake of unhelpful foods (high energy food from sugar and fat with little nutrients) to a minimum. However, a lot of people find that going cold turkey or completely denying themselves of a particular food only tends to make them binge on it after the diet is over or when they are having a weak moment.

Instead, plan your favourite foods into your week. This isn’t ‘cheating’! You’re ensuring that your eating pattern is sustainable long term by adding a layer of enjoyment. You can organise your favourite foods around social occasions or weekends and plan accordingly. You’ll enjoy it more because it’s only eaten occasionally and you won’t feel guilty about it because you’ve planned it into your weight loss regime.

If you need help, recruit a nutritionist or dietitian to help you!

Eat in advance 

If you’re heading out to a party, work function or other event, don’t get there hungry. If you eat a nice, healthy meal before you go, it’ll be easier to say no to the party food because you won’t be hungry. You can also take something for yourself to eat or drink (if appropriate) like mineral water, a fruit platter or raw vegetables and dip.

Plan your meals

Eating well takes planning. You cannot expect to eat well if you’re not in control of the majority of your meals. Organisation is the key to ensuring that there is a healthy, satisfying meal ready for you when you come home from a busy day at work, tired, stressed and hungry. If you are not organised you will grab something quick, easy and probably not very healthy.

I wrote an eBook called The Tale of the Headless Chicken, it’s all about meal planning and how to eat healthier when you’re busy!

Start a hobby

You are probably thinking, ‘what does a hobby have to do with weight loss?’ but one of the biggest ways you can derail your healthy eating habits is from mindless snacking. After dinner, don’t sit down and watch TV to wind down if that tempts you to snack on unhealthy food at the same time. Find something else that helps you relax that will keep you busy between work and bedtime. Learn an instrument, go for a walk, sew, write, read, yoga, blog, draw, colour…

I also find that for some clients, food is both a creative and sensory outlet. Life can be boring and mundane at times, full of obligation. If you go and start putting strict rules and restriction around your eating, you’re going to find that you’ll need another outlet that helps you relax, feel good and wind down.

Choose high fibre

High fibre carbohydrates are filling, great for your digestive system and keeping you regular, help decrease your cholesterol and maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. Try making the switch to wholemeal or soy and linseed bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice or why not give legumes a go. Chickpeas, lentils and beans are fantastic sources of fibre and should be part of every weight loss plan.

Many low carb or ketogenic (very low carb) style eating programs have a common side effect that they never talk about: constipation. If your diet is ‘blocking you up’, it’s time to find a new diet! Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates, learn about how to eat them in a balanced and sustainable way!

Choose lean protein

Protein is a really important part of a balanced diet. Choose lean, unprocessed options whenever you can. Think chicken breast instead of chicken schnitzel and steak or mince instead or sausages. Protein will help in keeping you fuller for longer after meals, particularly when you eat them at breakfast and lunch. They also lower the GI of your meal which also helps with keeping blood sugar levels nice and stable.

Choose whole, fresh foods

Processed, packaged foods are generally more energy dense and contain less nutrition than foods that have had little processing done to them between the farmer and you. Make the bulk of your diet consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, stir-fries, soups, stews and casseroles. Snack on fruit salad, raw chopped vegetables, nuts and seeds. Try beans, lentils and legumes and whole fresh chicken, meat and fish.

Even though minimally processed food, as a rule of thumb, helps us make healthy choices, it doesn’t mean that all food processing methods are bad. We pasteurise milk to kill bacteria, because we can’t drink it straight out of the cow – it needs transporting. We add salt to prevent bacterial growth and other additives stop mould growth, ensure oils and water don’t separate and stop fats from going rancid. Processing isn’t all bad, just remember to put the food in text context. How much will you eat? How often do you eat it? Need help? See a nutrition professional for evidenced based advice.

Get plenty of sleep 

I have had so many clients over the years who are exercising hardcore and dieting strictly but not getting any results. Why? Lack of sleep. Your body NEEDS to sleep! You may be coping on a little sleep, but you’re not thriving!

A lack of sleep will slow down fat loss, wreck havoc on your appetite, disrupt blood glucose management and impair your cognitive ability. You need a good eight hours of quality, restorative sleep to repair, rest and regenerate.

Stress less

I’m preaching to the choir here when I say that we’re all too stressed and need to chill the f-word out! I’m no expert in stress-reduction, but I do know that chronic stress will cause you to struggle long term with your weight. Try and find ways to reduce the pressure on yourself emotionally and psychologically. Get professional help if you need it. At one point in my life seeing a psychologist was the best thing I could do and I’m so glad that I did!

The main thing to remember whilst embarking on your weight loss journey is that your weight loss is for life. Keep the long term in mind and when you do fall off track, it’s just a temporary bump in the road. Keep working at it. Bad habits can be hard to shift, so the main thing is not give up!

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Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Kate’s healthy eating philosophy is all about whole, fresh foods, being realistic about life and creating long term healthy eating habits. She doesn’t believe in detoxes, fad diets or quick fixes. Once you’ve finished working with Kate, you’ll be empowered to feed yourself well for the rest of you life! More about the Author