If you want 2021 to be the year that you lose weight and feel great, you need to go easy on yourself.
If you are someone who struggles to maintain a healthy weight, don't beat yourself up about it, says British physician and author Dr. Rangan Chatterjee. If diets never seem to work in the long run, it could simply be because it's harder for you to lose weight. Take these pointers from Dr. Chatterjee and forge a new relationship with your body and food:
Let's start with 'what'
What we eat can directly influence how much we eat. One of the most powerful pieces of health advice is: Eat more real food.
That is food that's minimally processed, close to its natural state and instantly recognisable - fish that looks like fish, meat that looks like meat, vegetables that look like vegetables, and so on.
This one simple habit has three almost magical benefits:
-> You'll feel less hungry.
-> Your body will automatically manage your weight for you.
-> You'll be less tempted to eat what I call "blissy foods".
These are ultra-processed products that are about as far away as possible from real foods. They are created by scientists to be utterly irresistible to the human brain - and they tend to be high in calories.
Once opened, it's extremely hard to stop eating these chocolate bars, crisps, sweets and salty, fatty meals, and they have been engineered to hammer at your hunger signals.
When our food contains these flavours in certain combinations (salted caramel being a prime example), the brain releases dopamine which helps create intense feelings of reward. This motivates us to repeat the behaviour - eating those blissy foods over and over again.
Real foods are one-ingredient foods. They're the foods that don't come with ingredients labels - wholefoods like vegetables, fruit, lean meat, wholegrains, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses. They work with your body, not against it.
Five eating tips for healthy weight loss
You don't necessarily need to do all of these; just have fun and see what works for you.
Focus on one-ingredient foods: This will help reduce your hunger signals, increase fullness and nudge your weight point down.
Dinner for breakfast: Prioritise a real-food meal for your first meal of the day. This can have a dramatic impact on your subsequent food choices, increase your energy and improve your mood and focus.
Greens go first: Starting meals with a generous serving of salad or non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli or greens, will help you slow down and eat less.
Quench your hunger: Drink one to two full glasses of water 30 minutes before each meal.
Learn to cook: Being able to cook is a crucial part of moving to a real food diet - teach yourself five simple meals that you enjoy.