Having made the commitment to lose weight it can be very frustrating if, despite your best efforts, you reach a plateau where the pounds are just not moving at all. There can be many different factors that are holding you back so why not consider some of these strategies and see if they can help reboot your progress.
Keep a food diary – it can be all too easy to ‘forget’ the calories contained in drinks and snacks. The very discipline of logging everything you eat and drink can actually keep you focussed on what you are really consuming. An app like MyFitnessPal is easy to use and will not take up much time
Watch your portion size - paying attention to the quantity of food you are eating and learn that sometimes a little is enough – this goes even for “healthy foods” like hummus, nuts or avocado which although very good for you nutritionally can really pile on the calories.
Make sure you eat enough. Not only is this important in terms of not allowing your metabolism to slow down (which means your body will economise on the calories) it can also result in you being hungry and having cravings - even the strongest willpower can start to be challenged.
Try Mindful Eating – when you sit down in front of the computer/ TV/ phone and are not focused on what you are eating them the chances are that you will eat considerably more than if you pay attention to what you are eating. Savouring your meal and removing these distractions will keep you more alert to when you are actually full
Know which foods you can eat large quantities of – salad and green vegetables come top of this list – not only are they high in fibre which will improve your gut health, but the bulk and crunch of these foods can make you feel fuller. The only caveat is being cautious about the dressings you may be tempted to add.
Drink water before and during every meal or snack. Not only will the water provide some bulk to your food and improve its digestion, sometimes when we think we are hungry we are actually thirsty. It can also help to have a glass of water and then leave eating for 10 minutes – you may find that you are not actually hungry at all.
Take time to unwind. When we are stressed, the cortisol hormone level rises – this hormone increases your appetite and craving for high glycaemic index (GI) food. (Typically junk food, sweets, chocolate and cakes/ pastries or pizza.) This high GI food will give a quick boost to your blood sugar level. Although this may temporarily relieve the stress and give you a burst of energy, this can also result in you gaining weight. Taking time out - going for a walk, attending yoga or pilates classes, meditating, reading a book, having a bath, enjoying a massage – can all lower stress and cortisol levels - make sure that there is some “Me Time” factored into your life.
Develop a healthy sleep routine. It is well known that sleep deprivation plays havoc with your energy levels and disrupts hunger hormones. This means you will eat more, move less and therefore risk gaining unwanted pounds. Aim for 7-9 hours per night and develop a good bedtime routine.