Why Restrictive Diets Are Your Worst Enemy

You need chocolate.

Seriously. Life’s too short to cut out the things that you love the most: whether that be chocolate, cake, nachos, fries, or all of them (hopefully not on the same plate).

Following a diet that prevents you from eating your favorite foods is a bad idea for two reasons:

  1. It’s incredibly hard to sustain in the long-term
  2. It can make you utterly miserable

Successful long-term weight loss and weight management is not about being miserable. It’s about moderation, not dieting extremism. After all, if you’re going to be following a diet for the rest of your life, you need to make damned sure that it involves you eating all of the things that you love.

Chocolate, chips and cake can all be part of a healthy diet. Moreover, if you like those foods, they should be. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

How Your Plate Can Help You Lose Weight

According to Brian Wansink, head of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab and the author of Mindless Eating, dinner plate sizes have increased 36% since the 1960s. That corresponds with an increase in obesity in the US from ~15% in 1960 to ~30% in 2004. While we should all recognize that correlation does not necessarily lead to causation, the relationship between these two variables is thought-provoking.

With the above in mind, you’ve probably read that if you use smaller plates you’ll eat less. However, that is not necessarily the case – a plate that is too small can simply convince you to go back for seconds or thirds, thus rendering the whole exercise pointless.

So instead of using smaller plates arbitrarily, find your ideal serving size (by measuring your meals and using the Portion Reduction Method) then grab yourself a set of plates that makes your meals look suitably piled up. A mountain of food on a relatively small plate will seem bigger to you than a meal spread across a larger plate.

How to Eat Fewer Treats

“They’re okay I guess, but they’re not a patch on Minstrels.”

It started innocently enough – a debate on the relative merits of confectionary on a second date with my now girlfriend. I’d always been a huge Minstrels fan, but she was putting an argument forward for Maltesers. I wasn’t convinced.

A couple of dates later we headed to the cinema. I bought a bag of Minstrels and she chose Maltesers. It was a standoff. Maltesers won comprehensively.

Fast-forward a year or so and things had gotten out of hand. I joke, but in all seriousness I did actually have a problem. It was not at all unusual for me to scoff an entire 360g box of Maltesers in one sitting. That’s about 1,700 calories (over two-thirds of my daily allowance) of sugar.

While you cannot form a physiological dependence on sugar or chocolate, I was nonetheless psychologically addicted to Maltesers. It was ruining an my otherwise relatively healthy diet and had the potential to lead to all sorts of health-related issues down the line. Something needed to be done.

So I did something. In this post I want to share the specific techniques I employed to reduce the sheer volume of Maltesers that I was consuming on a near-daily basis. If you are addicted to sugar, chocolate or candy (or in fact any type of food), you’ve just found the means to make a major positive change in your habits.

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Milestone Dieting: The Most Reliable and Least Difficult Way to Lose Weight

This is part two of my series on why your diet always fail. Check out part one here.

Every time I watch a film like Thor or The Avengers I get a sudden urge to build myself a body like Chris Hemsworth’s or Chris Evans’ (it’s all about being named Chris when it comes to buff Hollywood types). However, the urge usually dissipates by the time I leave the cinema.

Why? Because I know that I simply don’t have the necessary willpower to create a body like that. I also know that the idea of going from my current physique to that kind of physique in one step is utterly absurd.

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The Single Biggest Reason Your Diets Always Fail

You’ve no doubt experienced the pattern before. You start off with the best of intentions and manage to go a few days (or even longer) with a fad diet. The pounds start dropping off and you’re feeling pretty great.

But soon after, the bad habits start to creep back in. Before you know it, the diet is all but abandoned and you’re back to your old ways. Where did at all go wrong?

Consider this: if someone offered you a million bucks to get stacked, you’d probably be pretty huge within a few months. Similarly, if someone held a gun to your head and told you that you needed to lose 20lbs, you’d sure as hell lose 20lbs (and quickly). But these kinds of motivations are rare in the real world, and for the most part, we’re kidding ourselves when we set outrageous weight loss targets.

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How to Lose Weight (And Enjoy Your Meals Just as Much)

In the past, a typical serving of spaghetti for me would be about 160 strands, which equates to 525 calories (I really like pasta). I would grab a healthy handful of spaghetti (perhaps 140 strands), then, fearing I was doing myself a disservice, grab a few more just for good measure.

These days I measure out my spaghetti to around 80 grams (which is around 80 strands). In doing so I save myself from consuming an additional 260 calories. That’s a weekly reduction of 1,820 calories, which is equal to approximately ½lb of fat.

I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself either – I’m just taking my greed out of the equation and measuring out an amount of spaghetti that I know will satisfy me.

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How to Stop Eating When You’re Full (The Portion Reduction Method)

This is a tough one, especially for people like me: those who seemingly only feel satisfied when they eat to the point of slight nausea. It is however an effective way of eating fewer calories, and partners well with eating slowly.

The strategy, when stripped down to its bare bones, isn’t complicated: when eating a meal, stop when your body tells you that you’ve had enough. If you’re anything like me then it’ll take some time to rediscover this feeling, but it is there.

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Why You Should Take Your Time When Eating

I have historically been an astonishingly fast eater. It has at times been a point of pride for me (for some bizarre reason). I’d always be the first to finish at dinnertime when I was a child.

However, it was nothing to be proud of, because there are no benefits to eating fast. On the other hand, eating slowly is only ever a good thing.

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Intermittent Fasting: How to Love Your Food and Lose Weight

There are some people in this world who eat breakfast on autopilot. It’s part of their morning regime – as normal as brushing their teeth or taking a shower.

That’s not the case for me. Why? Because my stomach isn’t always receptive to food in the morning. Put simply, I won’t be hungry – not for at least a couple of hours after getting up (and sometimes longer). So sometimes I’ll skip breakfast and wait until my stomach is in a better mood before I start munching.

“But breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” I hear you exclaim. At least, that’s what conventional wisdom tells us. But if you’ve learned anything from being a Healthy Enough reader, it should be that conventional wisdom exists to be challenged. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this article. I’m going to show you why skipping breakfast – and other meals – can in fact be good for you and lead to sustainable weight loss.

Welcome to the world of intermittent fasting.

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Dieting: The One Question You Must Ask Yourself

When it comes to dieting, as far as I’m concerned, you have two options:

  1. Pursue a rigid, wildly overcomplicated and ultimately unsustainable eating plan
  2. Think simply and intuitively

The first option typically results in quick weight loss followed by a serious wagon-related incident that results in you falling off said wagon. Chocolate and/or ice cream would probably be involved.

The second option, given the right circumstances, would result in achievable gradual long-term weight loss and ongoing weight management at a level that is naturally suitable to you.

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