Is your New Year’s resolution to lose some weight or to wise up on your eating habits? Good one- making firm decisions at this time of year gives you a “leap off point” to change old habits. But hold on a minute. Rather than looking for a quick-fix solution, with bad or fad diets, look for some common sense solutions that may take longer, but will bring more success in the long term.

First a rider: I avoid using the word “diet” as a rule. The word carries baggage! If you go on a diet, you are already setting yourself up to fail. Yes. True! Dieting means restricting oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight. They are generally short lived and when undertaken, you will, by and large, diet to meet an end goal – your wedding day, for a summer beach body or that annual doctor check up. In other words they are short term fixes.

However, changing your “way of eating” indicates a long term, or hopefully, a new life goal. Getting in shape takes time and requires eating sensibly. Do not start your new way of eating looking forward to getting back to the old ways!  Also beware of the celebrity sound bite endorsement of “magic solutions” with little work. Remember they also have chefs, helpers and gophers to lend a hand: if it sounds too good to be true, the chances are it is.

As well, avoid the “tea-toxes”, diet pills and appetite suppressant products which only mask the changes being made and create an illusion of success. More importantly they can also have side-effects, from diarrhoea to heart issues. Quick fixes without changing your lifestyle will not work, and anyone who says they will are only after your money!

Making good on your New Year goals is much easier to achieve and maintain when done gradually and safely. Changing how you eat for health or other reasons needs you to change your lifestyle in positive ways. Fad diets often promote eating only one type of food or avoiding whole food groups. You still need all the food groups and the minerals and vitamins they provide. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make healthier choices, eat a nutritionally balanced and varied diet with appropriately sized portions, and be physically active. Keep in mind that it took many months to get out of shape, so do not expect to reverse that in only days.

Some common tips to achieve your goals are:

  • Lose weight gradually – aim for a 12 week loss plan
  • Be realistic – 750 grams to 1kg a week is an achievable goal.
  • Be active – add in a bit of walking instead of driving; climb the stairs rather than use the lift
  • Drink less alcohol to speed things up

And some uncommon tips from the Non-Obsessive files:

  • Be mindful of how you eat – only eat when hungry, NOT to avoid getting hungry
  • On your weekly shop only buy what you intend to eat – not “maybe something the aunt might like if she pops over” type foods
  • Cut out ALL cookies, desserts, chocolates, sweets, added sugar and ALL drinks other than water, black tea and coffee
  • Do not cook or eat starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta at home – but you can eat them when dining out
  • Eat only unrefined carbohydrates, and only at the first meal of the day with a protein based meal in the evening
  • Reduce dairy foods due to its high calorie count (this is a particular Achilles heel of mine!)
  • Drink lots of water – frequently when feeling hungrywe are often thirsty, so have a glass of water and wait 15 minutes to see if you are still hungry
  • As you become accustomed to a new way of eating try Intermittent Fasting eating only in a window of 8 hours each day.