It’s not as complicated as the diet world wants you to think. Permanently losing weight and becoming a healthier, leaner you does not have to involve weeks of starving yourself, buying hundreds of dollars of supplements, measuring out every meal, or going on an all-liquid “cleanse”. In fact, these methods will most likely help you develop an unhealthy relationship with food, thus solidifying a lifelong sentence of “diet dependence”. If you really want to permanently break the yo-yo cycle, it’s time to get real – and simplify.
Therefore, in the spirit of “de-complicating” things, if I could give just one piece of advice to make you a healthier, leaner person permanently, it would be this: eat slowly and stop at 80% full. Period. If you just followed this one, simple rule at every meal, most people would see a significant difference in their body composition over time. Why 80%? It takes about 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to kick in. Therefore, if we stop eating at 80% full, chances are, in about 20 minutes our brains will tell us, “Yes, that was enough food. I am fully satisfied.” Let me give you an example: you know that one friend you have, the friend that never has problems with weight, the friend who can eat whatever he/she wants? Yes, many of us use the excuse, “Well, he/she just has a higher metabolism.” Though that may be a contributing factor, I am going to bet that a good deal of it has to do with the fact that he or she truly listens to hunger cues. You see, if you actually listen to your body, it will tell you when and how much to eat. Now this is easier said than done in today’s society when we are constantly being bombarded with food ads, 24-hour fast food joints and grocery stores are around every corner, and social events seem to always include tempting snacks and caloric drinks. AND, to make matters worse, if you’re like me, you have emotional ties to food, causing you to ignore hunger cues and instead listen to psychological ones (“I’m depressed, I want a cookie”, “I worked hard today – I deserve it”, “I’m so full, but I just love brie!”). With all of these obstacles in our way, it is easy to throw our hands up in the air and give up. However, if we just stopped listening to the noise of the outside world and the noises inside our heads and instead started listening to our bodies, we would find that we tend to eat less at each meal than we used to, and this over time, will lead to permanent weight loss.
Will this one rule solve all of your diet challenges and make you the healthiest person ever? No. Quality of food is still a very important factor, as well as individual factors. However, what I am saying is that we need to start permanent weight loss and maintenance here. If you are not following this simple rule, than you are developing an unhealthy relationship with food, and this will only cause permanent “diet dependence”. No diet will work permanently if you do not start by listening – truly listening – to your body’s hunger and satiety cues.
So don’t ostracize yourself permanently from all social events or sentence yourself to a life of eating pre-portioned meals alone in your dimly lit kitchen, simply take the time to taste your food and stop eating when you are 80% full. Don’t’ let diet fads and so-called nutrition gurus trick you into thinking losing and maintaining weight is so complicated. It is very simple actually. Your body WANTS to stay within a healthy weight range. All you have to do is listen to it.
written by Rose Bachtel – Precision Nutrition L1 Certified