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Ten things you DON’T need to do for lasting weight loss

1. Deprive yourself of the thing(s) you love

If there’s something you really love to eat, which gives you real pleasure, chances are if you try to give it up you’ll feel deprived and resentful. When you weaken and have it as a treat you’ll see it as a failure, you may overeat it and you may feel guilty and unhappy, when in fact that favourite food should make you happy.

Allow yourself “room” in your diet for what you love by tidying up the stuff you don’t love so much. For instance, if you love your Sunday roast at the weekend, or enjoy meeting a friend for tea and cake each week, keep that thing in your life, but make “savings” elsewhere – lose the bag of crisps you have just because it’s part of a meal deal, or reduce the size or number of takeaway cappuccinos you buy. Yes, you do need to cut down on what you eat to lose weight but cut down in the less painful areas of your diet

2. Join a weight loss club

Please don’t! These clubs thrive because people go back over and over again. Their plans work when you stick to them, as they are simply a contrived way of making you eat less, but you will put at least some of your life on hold while you’re following the plan, you’ll become obsessed with points (or whatever the diet plan uses) and at some point you’ll find yourself in a situation where you can’t or don’t want to follow the plan (a holiday for instance). People I’ve interviewed about this then say that without the plan they just go back to eating the way they did before, because they haven’t learned another way of eating. The weight then goes back on and then they go back to the club….

Just don’t start down this road, or if you’ve already started, get off it. Find your own, personal and sustainable way to eat more healthily.

3. Spend Sunday doing “meal prep”

Shopping for, cooking and filling up a dozen plastic containers with healthy food might seem like a good plan, but do you really want to give up every one of your Sundays to what is essentially a chore? And will you really fancy on Thursday something you cooked the previous Sunday, and which you may have been eating all week?

Spend your Sundays having fun and learn a few quick and easy recipes for your meals during the week.

4. Eat for energy

For “energy” in bars, shakes and drinks, read “calories”. Not what you need if you’re trying to lose weight.

By all means eat if you’re hungry, but don’t get duped by the marketing messages that say we need to keep our energy levels topped up at all times. Hunger is a good enough indicator of whether you need to top up.

5. Give up alcohol

There’s a general mood in the UK that we all drink too much, and that somehow we should feel guilty about it. I accept that alcohol can become a problem if you’re drinking every day or to excess, but to cut it out completely when it’s often so woven into our social lives can be miserable.

Aim at having a few alcohol-free days per week, but if for instance you enjoy drinking wine don’t make your nights out a test of endurance by sipping mineral water when your friends are sharing a bottle of wine. Again, you can make “savings” on other days and in other areas of your diet.

6. Consume special supplements or shakes

There is absolutely no need to eat anything other than just plain food!

7. Eat mindfully

Wouldn’t it be great if every time we ate we could sit in a quiet room, with a beautifully laid table, eat slowly and savour every mouthful? Well, sort of, sometimes, and I do think modern life means we often eat completely mindlessly, however in real life eating is part of social events, family interactions and evenings out, it’s not something we can treat as a meditative experience.

So do try to enjoy your food, and get the maximum amount of pleasure from it, but don’t assume that you’d lose weight if only you could concentrate more on what you’re putting in your mouth.

8. Eat “clean”

The phrase “clean eating” has a lot to answer for. It’s created a belief that everything that passes our lips has to be the most natural thing possible, and that all processed food should be avoided at all times. But if we adopt this all-or-nothing approach the moment we don’t eat a perfect meal we feel like we’ve failed, which isn’t true.

You could easily lose weight by eating only a bar of chocolate and a bag of crisps every day. I absolutely don’t recommend that, but weight loss is about how much you eat, not what you eat. Obviously the ideal approach is weight loss and good health, but if you decide to have a doughnut instead of a stir fry for dinner one night it’s not going to undo the rest of your healthy diet, nor your weight loss efforts, as long as you don’t completely give up on the healthy eating straight afterwards (which is a big risk of an all-or-nothing approach).

9. Eat things you don’t like

Don’t like salad? Don’t eat it. Don’t like almond milk or soya milk in your coffee? Don’t ask for it. There’s absolutely no need to eat foods just because they are deemed to be healthy. There are plenty of other equally healthy foods to choose which you might like.

10. Feel guilty about eating

As human beings we need food to survive. So to feel guilty about eating as is mad as feeling guilty about breathing. We need to eat food, we can’t give it up. Also note that many modern foods are formulated to taste moreish, to keep us buying more. So there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about eating, nor even about eating too much, it’s not a crime.

Try treating eating as a form of nurturing yourself, as a means of keeping yourself feeling healthy and happy. Limit the stuff which makes you feel sluggish or overindulged and seek out things which make you feel nourished. That’s what food’s for.

If you need help to develop a better way of eating for long term weight loss and a happier relationship with food, take a look at how I can help.

And I’ll be posting a list of the ten things you SHOULD consider for lasting weight loss very soon….