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A scale with a tape measure wrapped around it tied in a bow. The display window says HELP! White background. Dieting concept.

Reassess your feelings about food and avoid those eating triggers 

From Atkins to the zero-carb diet and aerobics to zumba dancing, there’s no shortage of advice and information out there on how to make diet and exercise an essential part of your healthy weight loss programme.

Critical as they are to weight loss success however, always keep in mind that even if you are the world’s most dedicated dieter, you are statistically more likely to fail in the long-term unless you underpin your commitment with a clear understanding of not just what you eat, but why.

Try these tips to keep yourself focused and motivated as you strive to achieve your weight loss goals:

Re-evaluate your relationship with food: It sounds so simple. Eat more calories than you require and your body will store the excess as fat and you will gain weight. Eat less than it needs and it will start to use up that fat and you will lose weight. If only it was that easy! The reality is however that we eat for many different reasons, which all too often have very little to do with fulfilling our nutritional requirements and everything to do with feeding our emotional needs. That’s why it is so vital to assess your relationship with food.  If you find that you are eating for comfort, reward, consolation, compensation or some other emotional reason, then give yourself a pat on the back because by identifying the causes of your overeating, you’ve taken the first step towards weight loss success.

Avoid those triggers: Devise strategies to avoid those situations that prompt you to eat. For example, if you are used to eating in front of the television, break the association by making it a rule to only eat sitting down at a table away from the screen. If you are in the habit of munching snacks in front of you computer, declare your desk a food free zone. Once you start analysing the many settings and situations that prompt you to eat, you can start to eliminate all those food associations from your daily routine.

Find new ways to reward yourself: Whether it’s a celebration, comfort eating to alleviate stress, or just snacking out after a long hard day, find alternative ways to compensate or reward yourself that do not involve food. Tell yourself that you don’t deserve to punish yourself and picture yourself at your desired weight, feeling good about yourself.

Educate yourself about food: Make yourself more aware of what you are eating by educating yourself about nutrition and food. Without getting into the detail of counting every last calorie, a general awareness of fat, sugar and calories values is very important for helping you to track and control what you eat. Learn about the seven major food groups and how much of each you should be eating as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Food awareness is especially useful for checking nutritional values when you buy food in the supermarket. Which leads us to…

Always Read the Label: Once you’ve started to educate yourself about food, make it part of your shopping routine to read the labels on convenience meals, as well as tinned, frozen, chilled, processed and other food products. Most product labels break down fat, sugar, calorie and other nutritional values into Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA) percentages, which is particularly useful for measuring your intake. You will be amazed at how quickly you start looking at food in a whole new light! For example, once you realise that an average medium (9”) sized pepperoni pizza accounts for almost half the recommended daily calorie allowance for men (and more than half for women) you may no longer be so keen to put it at the top of your list of Friday night favourites.

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