Losing Weight – You Are What You Don’t Eat

The key element to losing weight must surely be desire. Agreed, discipline is pretty vital also but remains secondary to actually wanting to shed those unwanted pounds. As a nutritional therapist, I attend many clients who are in denial about what they are eating.  Experience has taught me that working out their motives as to what they choose to divulge to me is what, ultimately, allows me to help them. I get that it’s not the easiest to tell a health professional that they consumed a cheese baguette followed by three chocolate bars for lunch but they’re paying good money for my advice and, most importantly, I really want to help them step off the losing weight/gaining weight merry-go-round aka yoyo dieting.

Countless times I’ve listened to people tell me that they, “really don’t eat that much” or “my portions aren’t too big, I just don’t know why I can’t lose weight”. Just like a camera, the scales don’t lie nor does my vision and if you’re overweight, you’re eating too much and not exercising enough. Simples. My detective qualities take over and I make further enquiries by asking for a diet diary, usually for a week which should list every single morsel that passes their lips. It is surprising how many folk don’t know correct portion sizes and ratios of foods they should consume to either lose or maintain weight. And you really don’t need to be a mathematician or a qualified dietician or nutritionist to work it out. Guidelines are available on a multitude of websites if you really want to find and follow them. And you don’t even need those websites to understand that if you’re eating lots of fatty foods, most days of the week, then you’ll have a higher body fat percentage.

There are some clients whom, although have listened to my request for exact details of the foods they have consumed over a week, write “salad” as a way of revealing their lunch with absolutely no other detail. Now a salad can consist of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, beetroot and other vegetables dressed in balsamic vinegar and lemon juice (low in calories) or a chicken caesar, a difference of some 300 calories and a lot more fat. The detective appears once again because now I have to work out why said client hasn’t listed exact ingredients. I can tell you now, it’s never because they ate the lower calorie salad. Similarly, I am used to seeing “sandwich” noted and we all know there’s a big difference between two slices of whole wheat bread sparingly spread with avocado and filled with smoked salmon and tomato to a buttery sausage sandwich filled with fried onions and ketchup. A half bowlful of crunchy nut cornflakes with full fat milk is entirely different to weetabix topped with a sliced banana swimming in skimmed milk.

Something to ask yourself when you believe you’re hungry is whether you would consume a food you absolutely hate which, incidentally for me, would be anything with ginger, liver of any kind, lemongrass or tongue. Are you hungry or just bored? Moments of boredom pass and the satisfaction in not giving in to hormonal/tired/bored feelings grow more powerful with each resistance.

In reality, there is no magic bullet although having support whilst learning and following an entirely different way of eating can play a huge part in succeeding. Losing weight is not just about learning to eat nourishing foods or when to eat them, it’s also about being ready to change the way you eat for life. I want my clients to be transient because that means I’ve been successful in providing the tools to enable them to maintain their weight loss for life.

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