The notion of dieting and losing weight seems to simple. Think about it. We’re constantly told that if we want to drop the pounds, all we have to do is eat less food and get more exercise in. When it comes to dieting, all we have to do is say goodbye to dessert and avoid anything remotely fattening, right? But it’s not so simple, is it? The truth is that this so-called simplified way to a healthier lifestyle could be a serious detriment to your short and long term goals. Need proof? Just think about all the fad diets that have made the rounds in traditional media. They all promise amazing results in just a few weeks and claim that you can drop tens of pounds by simply eliminating one kind of food from your diet for a short period of time.
More often than not, when deprivation is a main part of the diet, the effects are either unfavorable or short term successes. In fact, while you might shed a handful of pounds after a low-fat crash diet, chances are that you’ll gain everything back and more once the diet is over and you’ve returned to your regular eating habits. If you’re on a long term diet, on the other hand, depriving yourself or conducting your weight loss journey in a manner that could make you feel deprived, will often lead to extended periods of overindulgence. If you’ve gone down that binge eating road in the past, you know firsthand how much of a detriment and a discouragement it can be. So can you successfully lose weight without feeling deprived?
Find Goal-Friendly Alternatives
We all have that one foodie weakness. That dish that will make us weak at the knees. That staple food that sends our minds into an overload of cravings. Just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean that you have deprive yourself of your favorite food. The secret is to find ways to make healthier versions of the dishes. Craving pizza? Why not challenge yourself to make a carbohydrate free pizza with a broccoli or cauliflower pizza crust. You can also choose to put a smaller amount of cheese or to choose a cheese with less fat and salt. Not only do you get to eat your favorite treats, you can also find excitement in challenging yourself in the kitchen.
Don’t Swear Off a Food Group
A commonly made mistake for people who are trying to lose weight is to decide to stop consuming a particular food group entirely. Whether it’s saying no to carbs, no to dairy or no to gluten, there’s no way to sustain a diet that forbids a particular food without feeling deprived. The key to losing weight is to effect a change in your lifestyle, and to make this lifestyle change simply means to make smarter and healthier decisions. For example, instead of saying goodbye to sugar altogether, choose food or ingredients that have natural sugar like fruits over a donut. Other people may decide that they want to stop eating carbs. Instead of blacklisting carbohydrates from your life, you can choose instead to eat more complex carbohydrates like brown rice or quinoa.
Downsize Your Portions
Following along the idea of lifestyle changes, reducing your portion sizes is an easy way to cut calorie consumption while allowing yourself to eat the food you like. Even if you’re eating dishes made with healthier ingredients, being mindful of your portion or eating in moderation is still key. An easy way to reduce your portions without feeling deprived is to downsize your dinnerware first. Smaller plates make your portions look much larger and help us to trick our brains into thinking we’re still eating our regular potions. If your portion hits the boarders of a smaller plate, you could even trick your brain into thinking you’re eating a larger portion that you usually do. Studying ideal portions for different food groups is another great way to downsize or moderate the food you’re consuming.
Enjoy One Small Indulgence Per Day
Now this one we just feel is common sense. The easiest way to lose weight without depriving yourself is to do just that – don’t deprive yourself. Cravings are a totally natural part of life in general and allowing yourself to indulge (responsibly!) is the easiest and most effective way to tone down the intensity at which you experience them. If you go through a day without a craving, fantastic! But if a craving hits, find a way to indulge in something that will reboot your taste buds and quell the cravings. A go-to indulgence of many lifestyle personalities is to have a square or two of dark chocolate to munch on for when the sugar cravings hit. For others the craving might be salty, in which case a handful of oven baked sweet potato chips could be just thing you need to get over the craving. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to let yourself have what you want in moderation.
For some people meal prepping is the only kind of planning that is necessaryto achieve weight loss success. While meal prepping is an undeniably effective way to stick to a particular diet and to make sure that you’re only consuming a certain amount of calories, you could easily feel deprived when your meals are repetitive as meal prepping tends to result in eating the same dish throughout the week. Aside from adding variety or being more relaxed with meal prepping, a great way to make sure that you don’t feel deprived during the weight loss process is to plan snacks or “relief treats” for your week as well. This could be as simple as having a particularly sweet piece of fruit 2 to 3 times a week or as extravagant as allowing yourself half a dark chocolate bar on the weekend. It really depends on your tastes and what you think will take the dieting edge off.