If you can’t resist the cake or stick to a diet in the long-term or simply think that you lack self-control, try these 5 tools to cope with cravings and finally lose weight:
I want you to understand that you are not guilty of your extra weight and you are not alone with this problem. Here are factors to consider.
- Childhood habits, traumas, experiences often cause problems with overeating. You are not responsible for that.
- Humans evolved like this – we are wired to eat food when we see it and our body and brain will do the best to avoid weight loss.
- The food industry, stressful life, financial pressure – modern society creates excellent conditions to reach for comfort foods.
People with any amount of extra weight should not be blamed for it in the majority of the cases. Being overweight is not about greed, laziness, lack of willpower, lack of control or lack of effort – it’s complex.
Have you met people whose professional achievements are exceptional and yet they fail to lose and/or maintain weight? I know lots of them. Do you think these people have no self-control? This is because our relationships with food have nothing to do with self-control or willpower. Proven by neuroscience.
Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d show to a good friend. It involves recognizing mistakes without becoming overwhelmed with negative emotion, thereby increasing self-regulation in the future. Studies have shown that even a modest dose of self-compassion can help prevent the destructive self-criticism and negative feelings that can fuel overeating.
Overeating is not our fault, but we can take responsibility for it and gain control of it, too, if we are kind to ourselves along the way. On one hand, self-compassion could be viewed as an excuse for over-indulgence; on the other hand, research suggests that self-compassion leads people to forgive themselves for their actions but does not lead them to deny responsibility for those actions.
The importance of self-compassion for finding the way to food moderation is now backed by science (and it is not a recent discovery). Feeling bad about ourselves undermines our ability to cope with the problem! Self-compassion involves recognizing mistakes without becoming overwhelmed with negative emotion, thereby increasing self-regulation in the future. Studies have shown that even a modest dose of self-compassion can help prevent the destructive self-criticism and negative feelings that can fuel overeating. Read more about it here.
Hunger is healthy, it is natural and it does good to you. There are multiple studies proving it. I am not talking about starving here. But if you want to lose weight, you have feel light hunger from time to time. Under calories deficit (which is critical for fat-burn), you will sooner or later feel hunger. And it is OKAY. If you really stop and notice how hunger feels, you might find that there is nothing awful here. It is not painful, your head is not going to explode and in few minutes, this feeling may subside!
Can you define exactly, what and where do you feel when ‘hungry’? I normally feel it as a light sickness in throat, for example.
This is why I am a big advocate of tracking calories, fats, proteins and carbohydrates (sometimes it is enough to track only calories). It gives you flexibility to eat everything you want. When there are no prohibited products, there are no cravings. Please, don’t get me wrong, calorie counting does not mean eating shit all the time. At first, you’ll want to eat only chocolate and ice-cream. But when you understand that ‘treats’ are always available, you will want food. Real, healthy, unprocessed goodness!
While scales are demonised nowadays, your weight movement is still a good indicator of your progress. However, your weight fluctuates on daily basis depending on what you ate yesterday (Salt? Sugar? Alcohol?), your intestines content, your hydration levels, your stress levels and the phase of the cycle in females.
For example, Matilda is in the last phase of her cycle, she ate sausage pie for dinner with rice and she did not have much sleep tonight. Her weight was 100 pounds yesterday. Today it is 105 pounds. Did she gain 5 pounds of fat overnight? No. It is glycogen from pie and rice, stored water from high sodium in the pie, coming periods, under-sleep and glycogen. If she does not know that, she will be very upset and probably will binge on chocolate because she feels miserable. She thinks that once she goes off salad diet, she gets fat once she starts eating ‘normal food’.
To avoid this, weigh regularly, daily or weekly and look at the trend over an extended period of time.
Fat loss expert, elite group fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Sheffield.