If you have tried every diet under the sun, had some weight loss, but then promptly gained it all back this article is for you.

Welcome to couple’s therapy. This simple approach is all about healing your relationship with food.

The biggest gripe when it comes to following a diet plan is sustainability. If we could just live an anti-social lifestyle, wouldn’t our waistlines look better? Well since we are all social butterflies, there is some great news. HOW we eat can play an even greater role than WHAT we eat when it comes to weight management. Allow me to provide you with some simple steps to manipulate your waistline, without manipulating your plate.

Step 1: Tell Yourself, then Tell 3 Friends

Accountability is huge when it comes to incorporating a new, healthy lifestyle. In fact research has proven that people who have accountability to others, and thus have social support, are more successful in terms of both initial weight loss as well as weight loss maintenance [1].

Step 2: Focus on Your Food

Life is so incredibly busy, often we cannot remember what we ate 10 minutes ago. We wolf down our meals distracted by social media, television, or thoughts of our impending meeting. In a review of 24 studies, researchers observed that the level of distraction during eating influences immediate intake, resulting in increased energy intake. However, they found that distraction during meal times has an even greater effect on later consumption (i.e. as the day goes on) [2].

Step 3: Chew Your Food

You have heard this probably a thousand times, because it is true. On average you should chew each mouthful 30 times! How many of us can say that we actually do this? In a systematic review and meta-analysis, the evidence suggested that chewing slower and for a longer period of time resulted in decreased food intake, and decreased hunger later on in the day [3].

Step 4: Assess Your Digestion

We know there is no “one-size-fits-all” diet. Every one of us is different in our responses to food intake manipulation, and we need to listen to our bodies to establish which approach best suits us. For just one week I highly recommend keeping a targeted food diary taking special note of the following:

  • Nutrition: What did you eat? What was your hunger level before each meal? How did you feel 15 minutes afterward? Ideally, you should feel hungry but not famished before each meal, and energized within 15 minutes of finishing. Feeling like you need to nap post-meal is a sign you are not getting in the right nutrients.
  • Hydration. How much did you drink, and how thirsty (or not) did you feel? You should never feel parched, and should be drinking enough to go to the loo 4 – 8 times daily. Your urine should be light straw-coloured and not clear (which can mean over-hydration), and not too dark (which signals dehydration).
  • Elimination. How often did you go to the loo? Everyone’s digestion is different, but you should ideally have 1-2 bowel movements per day, and not feel particularly gassy or bloated. You will notice certain foods that you can eat daily, without experiencing digestive issues. The foods that make you feel sluggish, bloated, constipated or tired are not suitable for you.

Step 5: Be More Mindful

We can all probably attest our waistline to one or two bad habits that we cannot seem to shake. It might be that 10am craving for a biscuit with your coffee, or the 5pm craving for a salty snack to tie you over until dinner.

Figure out the cue for this habit. When you crave the chips, is it due to hunger? Boredom? Feeling like you need a break from work? Almost all cues that prompt habits fall into one of five categories: [1] Location (working at a desk, sitting on the couch), [2] Time (3 o’clock slump), [3] Emotional state (sad, bored, stressed), [4] Other people (friends, partners, co-workers), [5] and the Action that immediately preceded the urge (finished a task).

When your bad-habit urge hits, write down what’s happening in these five areas (perhaps in your trusty food diary). After three days, it should be clear what’s triggering your habitual response.

Final Thoughts

How we eat can really influence our weight, and increasing our mindfulness when it comes to mealtimes is essential. Over and above that, free yourself up from overly-restrictive food patterns and focus on enjoying real food (i.e. foods that are the ingredients rather than foods that have ingredients). Get to know your own system so that when it comes to food choices, they will be educated decisions rather than those driven by the latest diet trends.

If you need nutrition support or are looking for a comprehensive nutrition strategy that is customized to suit YOUR goals and your lifestyle, get in touch today.


[1] Metzgar C.J., Preston A.G., Miller D.L. & Nickols-Richardson S.M. (2015) Facilitators and barriers to weight loss and weight loss maintenance: a qualitative exploration. J Hum Nutr Diet. 28, 593–603 doi:10.1111/jhn.12273

[2] Robinson E., Aveyard P., Daley A., Jolly K., Lewis A., Lycett D., Higgs S. (2013) Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating. Am J Clin Nutr. 97, 728-42.

[3] Miquel-Kergoat S., Azais-Braesco V., Burton-Freeman B., Hetherington M.M. (2015). Effects of chewing on appetite, food intake and gut hormones: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiol Behav. 151, 88-96 doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.07.017