Weight gain (Photo: ShutterStock)
Here's some information you probably didn't know: Only 11 percent of people with obesity manage to maintain a 5 percent weight loss for a year? And that's just one piece of information full of few studies demonstrating the difficulty of maintaining after weight loss.
Recurrent weight gain begins from six months to a year, bringing body weight to baseline body weight, but with a higher fat percentage from the starting point of weight loss. There is no doubt that this is a very frustrating situation. The vast majority of people living with obesity will gain weight after losing weight and even more. Most people will follow these and other diets, avoid a certain type of food or group of foods, count calories, points and more. Usually at some point they will lose control of those foods they avoided so much and gain weight again, experience disappointment, despair and frustration and repeat.
Let go of the "desire to lose weight"
It may sound paradoxical, but attachment to the obsessive thought "just lose weight" is the barrier to weight loss. It is what holds people back from doing the most important thing - to walk the path they have chosen, to enjoy it regardless of the results and to be present in it moment by moment.
Below you can try one of the approaches that can help called the "non-diet" approach, or as I like to call it: "living in peace with food." In this approach, the emphasis is on in-depth work that focuses on paying attention to our body's needs, hunger and satiety, and that supports positive body image and self-image, thus preventing eating disorders and preoccupation with weight and food.
The Three Dimensions of the Non-Diet Approach
The physiological layerincludes identifying and sharpening the exact amounts the body needs by practicing listening to hunger and satiety, learning how to assemble balanced and satisfying meals and learning how to reduce cravings and the need to snack and how to combine sweets and favorite foods without feeling guilty.
The behavioral layer. While the nutritional layer is working on what to eat? The behavioral layer works on how to eat?" explains Elster. "Without internal work on eating behaviors, it is difficult to eat mindful eating, identify satiety during a meal and know how to stop and leave on the plate if necessary.
The emotional dimensionincludes a response to eating that is not out of hunger but another need, gradual work on emotional eating (stemming from nervousness, boredom, fatigue, etc.), working on beliefs that limit us from achieving the goal, and working on body image as a tool to stop the endless preoccupation with diets.
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Pay attention to eating. A man looks at a smartphone and eats at the same time (Photo: ShutterStock)
What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating is the ability to pay attention to the food we eat, with intention, moment by moment, without judgment. Examples of questions we can ask ourselves: What do I feel in front of food in my body? Am I awake to my breathing? What does food consist of? What's its taste? What does it smell like? What noises accompany his eating? What thoughts come to me before eating, during and after. Mindful eating allows us to regain control over our eating habits by listening to the body's sensations and the signs of hunger and fullness it sends us.
One of the main problems related to our lifestyle is that most of us eat absent-mindedly, while talking to the people next to us, while reading a book, working in front of the computer or watching TV and do not pay attention to the feelings of hunger and fullness that arise in us.
In contrast, mindful eating allows us to feel our point of satiety (when I've had enough) and enjoy and feel satisfaction from eating without pangs of conscience and guilt that serve as a trigger for continued eating - such a "vicious cycle" that is hard to stop.
What eating behaviors should we adopt?
- Eating only sedentary. Not standing, not on the road, and not while doing other things.
- Eating in the dining area or at a designated home/work place. Not on the bed in a bedroom, in a study, on the couch in the living room, in the office on the desk, but only in the dining area or somewhere else designated for this.
- Eating from a plate. Not from a pot/pan/bag/box/handheld. Put everything I want and plan to eat on the plate and then eat.
- Eating slowly and leisurely. Not fast eating accompanied by stress and recklessness but eating slowly, mindfully and making sure to chew the food well.
- Eating without distraction. Eating that is done not in front of a computer/tablet/mobile/TV/while reading a book/newspaper/filling a crossword / phone call, etc.
Leah Elster is a clinical dietitian and workshop facilitator, Deputy Chief Dietitian at Meir Medical Center of the Clalit Group, an obesity and emotional eating therapist using a "non-diet" approach, a meditation and mindfulness teacher and a facilitator for personal and spiritual development on the Zen path.
- nutrition and diet