Cheating On Your Diet

Everybody who struggle with their weight has tried some kind of diet at least once. If you are a normal human being, you are probably back to your original weight, may be even plus some.


Don’t blame yourself if your last diet or diets didn’t work, it wasn’t your fault. 95% of diets fail for reasons that are beyond your control. You were fighting against your mind, your body, and your environment; I would say the chances of you winning were pretty slim.

Diets don’t work because they are too extreme. They require you to deprive yourself of something: calories, sugars, red meats, carbohydrates etc. Deprivation doesn’t work. Have you seen movie “Chocolate” with Juliette Binoche and Jonny Depp? There is a character, played by Alfred Molina, who deprives himself of food during the fast. He is strong, he is always in control, but where he ends up? Pass out, inside chocolate store’s window, hugging half-eaten chocolate figurine. It is just how our mind works: if you deny yourself something again and again, you’ll end up wanting it more and more. That is why cutting your comfort food never works. Depriving yourself of foods that you love is the recipe for a disaster, because you’ll end up like a character from “Chocolate” movie: pass out, hugging half-eaten bacon-filled, cheese-covered, triple deck hamburger monstrosity.  

Even worse with calorie-reduced diets. Our bodies are amazing and very smart. When you dramatically cut calories in your diet, your body thinks that you don’t have enough food, so it turns down your metabolism and starts burning calories slowly and efficiently. So you stop losing weight even if you eat only salad.  When you finally give up and start eating everything in your sight, rewarding yourself for all sacrificing you’ve done, you body (very smart!) is using these extra calories to store more fat in your midsection, just in case you decide to starve yourself again.

And finally the environment. We don’t have to dig the soil to grow our vegetables or run after a deer to get a fresh meat anymore.  Now we are surrounded by food everywhere: home, school, work and so forth. We are programmed by nature to eat as often as we can and as much as we can, to store calories in case of famine, which never comes; so we just keep getting fatter. As a result, we eat a lot of unnecessary calories without even noticing; we eat not because  we are hungry, but because the food is right in front of you. That is why all these diet books tell you to keep a food journal, where you are supposed to write down every morsel you eat during the day. Honestly, who has time for that? You make about 200 food-related decisions every day, do you have time and patience to record it all down?

So, what should you do to lose these unwanted pounds?

First of all, take it slow. I know that after watching each episode of “The Biggest Loser” , we all want to lose “double digits” every week, but  losing weight is not an adventure, but a journey. Weight loss experts agree that your goal should be losing 10 % of your weight in 6 months. In this case you are more likely to keep it off and you also are motivated to keep it up. Slow but steady still wins the race.

Second, forget the word diet. The best diet is the one you don’t know you are on, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating: Why we eat more than we think. We don’t go to bed slim one night and wake up fat next morning. We gain weight gradually, over the years, without noticing, because every day we eat between 100 and 300 calories more than we need.  Only 100 calories a day will add up to 10 pounds at the end of the year. The good thing, we can lose weight the same way, without even noticing. If you eat just 100 calories less every day, you’ll lose 10 pounds. Cutting these calories out of your life can be done by implementing small changes in your life:

(For easy calculating take the number of calories that you want to cut and divide it by ten. That is going to be the number of pounds you can lose in a year.)

  1. Try to exercise every day. I am not talking about hours on treadmill or kickboxing matches with advanced athletes. 15 min of brisk walking every day is better than 2 hours on treadmill once a week. You’ll use about 100 calories.
  2.  Pause before a second helping. It takes about 20 minutes for brain to realize that you are full. Most of us can eat another helping before it happens, so as result we feel completely staffed. You can save from 200 to 550 calories
  3. Remove candies, cookies etc from your eyesight. Out of sight is out of mind. Research shows that people eat 71% more snacks when they see it. Go even further, hide all unhealthy snack in hard-reach spaces.  So, every time you think about a candy, you have time to pause and decide if you really want it. Depends on how often you reach for a cookie or a candy daily, you can save from 50 to 300 calories.
  4. Change your big dinner plates and wide glasses to smaller plates and tall glasses. We eat with our eyes first, so the same serving of food looks bigger on a smaller plate. The same goes for the tall glass. It is a simple trick, but it is amazing how well it works. You can save on average 30% of calories.
  5. Stop supersizing. If you still want to get this value for money deal, share your supersize meal. You save money and half the calories.
  6. Learn how to use chopsticks. Even there is no confirmed evidence that it will help you to lose weight, it’s obvious that when you use chopsticks you eat slower and eat less per bite, so you brain has more time to register that you are full and should stop eating.
  7. Control your snacking in front of TV. Here is where true mindless snacking happens: chips, pizza, candies, popcorn. Try to snack on fruits and berries, or at least don’t take the whole bag of chips while you are watching TV. Measure one serving on a separate plate, so if you want more chips, you’ll have to go back in kitchen and get another serving. You will be surprise how long this bag of chips will last.
  8. Anna Pavlova, famous Russian ballerina, said, “you want to be thin, be hungry and drink iced water”. I am not sure about being hungry, but about iced water she was right. Your body uses energy (calories, hooray!) to heat the water to body’s temperature: 1 calorie for each ounce. So, depending on how many ounces of iced beverages you drink, you can be burning all these extra calories without even noticing it!