It’s very simple. Most people who lose weight gain the weight back, sometimes more. Whether you, your doctor, or society like it or not your body has a set point. This is the weight your body thinks is right for you. We have evolution to thank for that neat trick.
Your body’s set point is based off several factors, but one of those factors is your food habits. It doesn’t matter if you lose weight through surgery, dieting, exercise, or any combination thereof. Lasting weight loss is dependent upon fundamental habit changes.
Change is difficult for us as a species. We like familiarity and comfort. So, we fall into habits. This only becomes a problem when we try to do something like make a new year’s resolution to change an engrained habit, or when we lose weight.
Another thing to consider is that sheer willpower will only go so far. So, motivation fueled by willpower rather than sustainable habit changes tends to burn out. In order to keep off the pounds you’ve lost, old dysfunctional habits have to replaced with new healthier habits instead.
Some of these habits include:
- Acknowledging that there is a difference between being satiated and stuffed.
- Identifying real hunger vs. hunger initiated by food feelings or mental desires
- Being able to overcome cravings that food feelings and moods cause.
- Practicing mindful eating and portion control
- Coping with food feelings like stress and negative emotions in a healthy way
To satiate is to fully satisfy. It is not to gorge or stuff. There is a huge difference here.
Many of us were taught, as kids, to clean our plates. It didn’t matter if an adult put too much on the plate to begin with. We were expected to clean the plate. It’s an acceptable choice, but this taught many of us that full meant overfull, or that we have an obligation to eat.
Understand that this is not true. It’s simply an unintended consequence. You are under no obligation to clean your plate. This includes when you go to a restaurant or a family dinner. Eat until you are satisfied. Not until you are full.
Often, if you eat until you are full you will feel over full, and uncomfortable later. Remember that it takes time for all of your food to get to your stomach, and some foods expand in the stomach.
Real hunger vs Mental desire
We eat for many reasons. Using food as a fuel source is only one reason we eat. Other reasons include cultural aspects and socializing.
Weddings are one situation where we eat as part a social construct derived from a cultural perspective.
We also eat when we’re stressed, upset, excited, or celebrating. Hunger isn’t just about a physical need to fuel your body.
To that end, it’s important to note that it’s completely okay to indulge now and then, and eat in these social, cultural, or emotional situations. The key is understanding why you’re eating and to address that reason in a healthy way.
Identify your food feelings and situational eating habits so that you can make sound choices about when to eat and when not to. Choosing to eat is not bad thing. Mindlessly eating without understanding why you’re eating or hungry is one of those dysfunctional habits that have to be traded off for lasting weight loss.
Also, coping with the positive or negative emotions that encourage you to eat when you’re not physically hungry will go a long way here because it will give you a baseline of emotions that you can learn to manage in healthier ways.
Monitoring your intake of food doesn’t mean obsessively counting calories, carbs, or points. It means keeping an eye on portion control and practicing mindful eating.
Restaurants serve oversized portions that nobody needs. Dinner plates designed and sold today are larger than they need to be. Since we have overly large plates, and we’re spoiled by restaurants we have a tendency to eat more in one sitting than we need. It’s called portion distortion and it’s worth researching. Getting into the habit of being mindful of what, and how much you eat is another supportive habit for lasting weight loss.
For many of us, weight loss is a physical thing. We want to take the short-cut or be given the quick answer, so we resort to fad and starvation diets to lose weight without addressing the mental aspects of our set points.
For weight loss to stick, habits have to be addressed and permanently altered. Great job on losing all that weight. But if you go back to eating a bag of Doritos in front of your television every day, the weight is bound to come back.