Figuring Out Your Weight Loss Diet

Figuring out your diet in order to lose weight can be incredibly frustrating! There are so many different diets, many of which conflict in terms of their recommendations. And within a specific diet, there can be a wide spectrum of tweaks. For example, if you eat low carb, how many carbs/net carbs should you count? Should you cut out dairy? Nuts? If you choose to follow one of the current Weight Watchers programs, how do you handle all the Zero Point foods? Do you eat Weeklies and/or Activity Points? Etc.

AND, keep in mind, diet is only ONE FACTOR in your weight loss. Things like activity, psychological stress, and sleep all impact your weight. Weight gain/loss comes down to HORMONES AND PHYSIOLOGY. In this blog post I am going to leave those other factors alone to focus on helping you navigate your own weight loss diet…but know that they do matter, and if you’re eating a relatively good diet, it might be helpful to see what other areas of your lifestyle could use some healthy tweaking.

When it comes to eating for weight loss, you have two primary options. One is to follow a *PROVEN* weight loss diet. These are generally restrictive, beyond eliminating the worst foods for weight loss (including processed junk food, refined carbs, added sugar, hydrogenated/processed fats). For example, Dr Michael Mosley’s diet is 800 calories for a period of time. For many people, that is very restrictive. For others, it works very well. These people lose unhealthy weight and improve their health and find the maintenance version of the diet something they can stick with long term (it is not 800 calories forever). For people who struggle with binge eating/emotional eating, this way of eating many not work very well as it can trigger binge eating. Thankfully, it is not the only weight loss option.

There are a variety of published weight loss and healthy eating diets by weight loss professionals. As noted above, particularly for weight loss, these diets are likely to be restrictive in some way, either by limiting the total amount of food you can eat or the type of food you can eat. Many of these diets progress to a more liberal maintenance phase. If one of these ways of eating resonates with you and works for you, go ahead and give it a shot. Remember, the most important thing you can do to stop binge eating/emotional eating is to stop eating processed junk food and added sugar/refined carbs. Many published diets encourage real, whole food.

If a Book Diet or program like Weight Watchers does not appeal to you, consider shifting your diet towards a Mediterranean eating pattern. This healthy way of eating is validated by numerous scientific studies. You can make it more or less plant based or low carb, depending on your dietary preferences. It allows for a wide variety of healthy whole food. For people who struggle with binge eating/emotional eating, this can be a good place to start because it is less restrictive than more mainstream weight loss diets. The way I suggest approaching this is to start where you are. Here’s how to do that:

1. Stop eating processed junk food and added sugar/refined carbs. These do not serve you in any way whatsoever. These are not treats. These foods perpetuate food addiction, emotional eating, and binge eating. Do not buy these foods. If others in your environment continue to eat them, do what you can to minimize your exposure.

2. Take an inventory of your current eating patterns. How are your meals spaced? Are you going too long without food? When do you get hungry? Do you enjoy what you eat? What foods are you eating? Also not that in general, it is a good idea to have about 12 hours between the last time you eat at night and the first time you eat the next day.

3. Identify one change you are willing to make to shift your diet closer to a healthy whole food Mediterranean diet. This is very individualized, and something I work on with my clients. Essentially, you will be adding a food, swapping a food, or taking out/cutting back on a food. This process can happen over many weeks. In general, a good place to start is adding lots of non starchy veggies. These are filled with nutrients and will satiate you, especially if you prefer large amounts of food. It might be helpful to start adjusting your foods first before cutting back on quantities. See where you get by cutting out the junk and shifting to real whole food.

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