Focus on your weight loss goal for success

While food is absolutely necessary for health, we must remember that it is the most common item causing health abuse, next only to physical inactivity.

From infancy through childhood and teenage, most of us have been pressurised to eat and ingest more calories than required. Even during pregnancy and lactation, when women are encouraged to eat more, the little individual gets affected. Once the ‘full plate’, ‘full mouth’ syndrome takes hold, who can resist becoming a food addict?

I know of a child whose mother stuffed him for each mouthful and this habit continued to his teenage. Unless he filled his mouth completely, he could never get satisfaction. So, our woes start in childhood and lead to overweight problems in later life.

Further, ‘clean your plate’, ‘eat fast’ and other such injunctions also cause bad habits leading to increased weight.

What can be done to get out of this vicious cycle?’
Hold on to your motivation of wanting good health, rather than wanting only to lose weight. When people desire to lose weight just to get married, just to go for a trek or for a holiday, the weight loss is never permanent.

Instant weight loss is very temporary and sometimes even harmful. So, please be clear about your objective. Suppose you are 15kg or 30lb overweight, plan to reduce by 1/4th or 1/3rd, within a reasonable time plan of 3 to 6 months.

§ Know what you eat. Keep a record and eat consciously.
§ If you are already overweight or obese and/or having health problems like diabetes, hypertension, heart or joint pain conditions which need you to reduce weight, do get professional advice from a doctor and a dietitian and get a clear picture of your requirements.
§ Motivate yourself by planning some reachable goals within a time plan, as mentioned.
§ From your record you will understand your eating habits. Don’t worry about calorie counting. Just reduce the quantity by 1/4th or 1/3rd.
§ This can be done by serving the whole meal onto your plate and removing the above quantity of the cereal dish, i.e., rice and rice preparations, chapathi and wheat preparations, breakfast and tiffin items like upma, pongal, idli, dosa, poori, bread and breakfast cereals.
§ You need not reduce vegetable and fruit portions. Perhaps you can even increase them for a feeling of fullness.
§ Go easy on the non-vegetarian dishes. Both veg and non-veg dishes should not have greasy gravies or too much oil used for cooking.
§ If you like crisp items like pappads, get them microwaved instead of fried. They are equally good once you develop a taste for them. Actually, eating pappads is good for you as most of them are made with urad dhal and are protein rich. Avoid the rice and sago variety and also the fried ones.
§ Increase the fresh vegetables, especially the watery ones like the gourds and the greens. Keep the roots and tubers for occasional use. Increase the fruits, nuts and keep dried fruits to a minimum. All these foods can be eaten when you are hungry, as small, easy-to-carry snacks.
§ Drink a lot of water and increase other fluid items like soups, rasams, lemon juice and other unsweetened juices.
§ You are already well informed about fried foods and sweets. You can indulge once or twice a month, but never when you are depressed or lonely. At these times all your good intentions may fly away due to an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. Temptations always lead to trouble.
§ Be strict with your goals and not with yourself. Don’t be judgmental and feel guilty when you have indulged in the temptations. Be aware and not guilty. Be focussed on your goals.

OK, so do you find these tips easy? You will need a lot of motivation, a lot of thought on planning and eating consciously but it is possible, is it not?

Finally, it all depends on you and your motivation. Best of luck!

Malathi Mohan

The author is a retired professor of WCC, Chennai; retired Dean, Academy of Fitness Management, Chennai and Past President, Indian Dietetic Association

Also read:
Why count calories
Weight reducing diets

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