Struggling to lose weight-are you eating enough?
My biggest obstacle to weight management? It's not eating enough.
I know that sounds odd but if you've ever gone a crash diet and crashed out shortly afterwards you'll know what I mean. Not eating enough is as much of a problem as eating too much.
The less you eat the better it is for losing weight, right?
Some people get themselves into a starvation mindset. I see this a lot, particularly with people who are very unhappy with their weight and they feel desperate to get it off. They think: " if I could only not eat anything I'd speed up the process".
Makes sense right?
Eating too little is a troublesome as eating too much.
I like to plan my shopping and meals so I eat healthily pretty much all the time. However, sometimes when I am really busy or doing more exercise than normal I don't factor in the extra energy I need and I don't eat enough.
I get to mid afternoon or early evening and feel starving
I feel fine at first. Then I get absolutely ravenous and I have an insatiable desire to eat. Not because I lack 'will power' (you can read my blog on that here) or because I'm weak but because my body genuinely needs food. This normally leads to me eating whatever is to hand, (which is not always healthy) or eating more than I would have done had I spaced my eating out more evenly.
It can undo a lot of good planning and decision making. This is why being in the right mindset and making healthy eating a priority in your life is so important.
The other problem with this is that it might mean that I haven't got my nutritional needs met causing a lack of energy, meaning I am less inclined to exercise and less able to put my all in when I do. This can lead to feeling rubbish about your progress and that creates a vicious cycle.
"I just want the weight gone!!!"
When people get to the point of feeling fed up with their weight and reach what I call their 'eurghh point' (the point which makes them leap into action) they often lunge into knee-jerk responses such as juice cleanses and fasts to get rid of the problem ASAP and this creates a mindset of punishing themselves.
The problem with this mindset of 'I need to eat as little as possible' is that it focuses on what you leave out of your body. Deprivation doesn't work. If I were to say to you "don't think of a pink elephant" what do you think of? It's the same when you create a list of things you can't eat. You set yourself up to fail and it doesn’t feel very nice.
I've found that a more helpful mindset is to think "what does my body need?"
I started working with a woman recently who was desperate to get the weight off. She was at her "eughh point" she just wanted the weight gone. At first, she wanted to do the most extreme diet she knew she could do safely. After a week she lost a good amount of weight.
Once that initial loss she was feeling much calmer about things the second time we spoke she found that she had been craving certain foods. Nothing unhealthy, mostly chicken and fish. My advice was to eat those things and shape her approach around what she needs and what is important in her life.
Not only was eating those foods helping her to not be hungry but it suited her lifestyle to bring those things into her diet. I think there was a fear that if she added more food to her diet she would gain weight. Her weight loss was a little slower but she was delighted to still be losing and heading towards her goal.
The best bit is this gives her more energy and she is slowly upping her exercise levels too. A virtuous cycle.
Focusing on what you need and being vigilant about getting enough nutrition can actually help you lose weight. The best bit is it feels like and act of kindness. You get to feel good and get to your goal too.
What about you?
Have you ever struggled because you ate too little?
Have you ever found a slightly slower approach gets better results?
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