Many people who want to lose weight try to stick to a diet. This involves restricting your intake, sometimes quite rigorously such as with shake-based diets. Many of these people start out with good intentions, obviously, but find that once they start eating normal again, they put on the weight they have lost and sometimes even more! This jojo effect is because your body metabolism is effectively altered when you restrict your intake. Especially when you limit your calorie intake rigorously, your body gets used to that and starts to save energy. That means it wants to store the energy you take in, because apparently there are difficult times where you have hunger, but you need power for your daily activities. If you go into this saving mode, eating regularly will cause you to put on weight faster, simply because your body wants to store that energy in case there are times of hunger coming again.
In my opinion, restricting diets make no sense as you deprive your body not only of energy but also of nutrients you need to stay healthy. What works better is to simply choose to eat healthier, not less per se. It is not about restricting your intake, but about changing your intake. Yes, it will take longer, because it involves a change in lifestyle, permanently, and permanent change is difficult. You will not see results right away, but what you lose will stay off, so don’t be discouraged! Mrs Healthy Ever After has taken up this challenge when she got married, and it’s paying off, so check out what she thinks 😉
There are so many things you can change! What my husband and I really need to do is limit our intake of chocolate, changing it to healthier snacks of fruit (which I can do, but my husband is more reluctant and, admittedly, I LOVE chocolate, so it’s not that easy for me either). When you get the munchies, often you are not really hungry, you don’t need food technically speaking. It is just that you like the taste or that, as some have argued more recently, that you are addicted to sugar as you can get addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Some things advocated by most dietitians:
Eat lots of veggies! In the Netherlands, it is advised to eat 200-250 grams of veggies per day and really, it fills more per calorie you take in than meats. Because it is quite a lot to eat during one meal, you could spread it and eat some veggies at lunch too (lettuce and bell pepper on your sandwich, a salad with veggies etc.) or snack with carrots, cucumber or tomatoes.
Vary what you eat! Different foods contain different nutrients, and your body needs all. Healthy choices are low in saturated fats and salt (which you can find on the label with nutritional information). And a very simple rule for vegetables: different colour vegetables contain different nutrients, so you can easily vary with differently coloured veggies.
Apart from this, I really prefer home cooking. Making meals from scratch doesn’t have to take that much longer than preparing pre-packaged food, and it’s often healthier. And tastes better! You can make lovely dinners and lunch at home, and feel better eating it, perhaps also because you put in more effort to make it. Remember how everyone says ‘made with love’ and how you can taste that? Well, it’s true! So do try it out. You can expand that and make things for your store cupboard as well. Jams, pesto, hazelnut spread and snacks are easily made. I always watch Mind over Munch (fighting the munchies when I see that delicious food prepared), which demonstrated how you can prepare guilt-free food that tastes great.
So in my opinion it’s way better to make healthy choices related to food, based on you personally, rather that following restricting diets. But don’t toss away the books: there are often very nice recipes in them. Just that (IMO) you shouldn’t follow diets doesn’t mean they are completely useless. Perhaps combining recipes from all the different diets out there also constitutes a healthy food pattern.