Weight Management - 10 things to think about!

As a dietitian at the Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre we are often asked lots of question about weight management. We all know what we need to eat but it is often the how, when and why we need support with!  See below a helpful list of 10 things to consider.

Weight management- 10 things to think about!

1. There is no quick fix
Permanent weight changes require permanent behaviour and life style change. So allow yourself plenty of time.

2. If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is!
We are constantly bombarded with tempting advertising promising a miracle product to assist with weight loss.  If these worked there wouldn't be so many of them! There would be one - and one very successful company behind it!

3. We can't change genetics- be realistic when setting goals
Just like we are born to be a natural height and have a certain hair colour we have a predetermined natural weight and shape which is healthiest for our body. We can work to be as fit and healthy as possible within these limits.

4. Every body is different, what works for one person won't necessarily work for others
Because we all have different genetics and the environment around us influences us all in different ways we can not expect that an exercise or eating plan will have the same impact for us as it does for others.

5. Think about why you're eating - Non hungry eating
We are often so busy trying to decide what is the best choice to eat, that we forget to check if we are actually hungry and need to eat! We eat for a number of different reasons such as boredom, the food is there , the food looks nice, emotions, social pressure, the time on the clock, or to prevent getting hungry latter. Hunger should be the reason the majority of the time we decide to eat but often we create habits based on non- hungry triggers.

6. Think about what you are drinking
There is no particular food or nutrient that causes weight gain or weight loss rather it is about the total amount of energy over a period of time.  Some drinks are very energy dense which we can sometimes forget! For example alcohol is very energy dense, not to mention what we mix it with or what we eat on the way home at the end of the night!

7. How are you eating - speed of eating
When we are distracted or busy we often eat with out paying attention to what we are eating, also we tend to eat more quickly. When we do this we don't have time to enjoy and register the foods and don't allow time to notice sensations of satiety, which can take 15-20mins to travel from the stomach up to the brain. If we eat quickly we feel unsatisfied and go back for seconds or thirds and then end up feeling overly full and bloated.

When people take time to eat slowly, notice and enjoy the taste and flavours of the foods they are eating, they are often surprised at how little they require to feel satisfied and no longer hungry.

8. Think about your portions
As we are bombarded with messages about the health risks of being above our healthiest weights we are also bombarded with quick and easy ways to supersize our foods. Convenience and take away foods are often more economical to purchase in larger sizes. We end up eating more of it because it is there or we don't want to waste the food. An easy way of keeping your meals in check is to aim to have half your plate covered with vegetables and salad, a quarter with meat and a quarter with grains and grain products.

9. Activity is important
Having an awareness of the types of foods you eat, how much of them you eat and why you eat them is one thing but it is also important that this is accompanied by some activity each day.

10. Think about long term lifestyle changes rather then short term crash dieting.
As hard as it is to believe when the media is constantly telling us something different ,  'diets' don't lead to sustainable changes in weight, they are often expensive and nutritionally unbalanced; increasing long term health risks.

Also, putting yourself on a diet can lead to the diet mentality - thinking of foods as 'good and bad' or feeling deprived - which often leads to over consumption of sometimes food which you are trying to limit!

Josephine Gibson