Losing weight is not an easy proposition. Many people struggle with it their entire lives. Our own culture provides mixed messages through advertising with both the images of what is considered attractive and a constant barrage of unhealthy food choices. Research is demonstrating that the diet fads we have attached ourselves too are not only ineffective but can also be entirely unhealthy.

There is good news, though. There are several types of diets that do work. These diets aren’t fads but rather major lifestyle changes. Let’s take a closer look at the eating patterns that actually work to help people lose or maintain weight in a healthier way.

1. Mindful eating

At Holistic Pain we encourage people to approach life, and food, in a mindful way. Recently we have been exploring the idea of mindful eating in multiple blog posts. This is because we truly believe in this method. Studies have shown that people who only eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full are less likely to gain weight. The problem is that many of us are emotional eaters or rely on social cues for food intake rather than physical need. Mindful eating changes the entire way you interact with food. It may take some time and experimentation but embracing mindful eating will absolutely result in healthier choices and overall lifestyle.

2. Mediterranean diet

There is some science that suggests looking back to our cultural past can be the best way to maintain the right diet for our individual body types. This has been demonstrated recently by the concept of the Mediterranean diet. The idea is that the native foods of the Mediterranean region are known for improving blood sugar and cholesterol levels and protecting against heart disease. They also lower the risk of other conditions such as cancer or Alzheimer’s. Again, rather than a fad diet, this is really about changing the way you interact with food. The diet is rich in vegetables, healthy fats, small amounts of dairy, plenty of fresh herbs, and proteins such as fish and eggs. Not only is it effective, it is also delicious.

3. Mayo Clinic Diet

Nationally recognized leaders in health and medical science, the Mayo Clinic developed a diet using the most up-to-date research available. The idea is not only to encourage weight loss but also help people change the way they eat with a focus on enjoyment. The diet, which was published by the Mayo Clinic in 2010, is comprised of two main parts. The first step is to lose weight by introducing healthy habits and learning to break bad ones. The second step is a lifelong approach to a sustainable diet that can help you maintain your weight and enjoy the foods you eat.

4. Support groups

Studies also show that people who have a strong support group and participate in group weight loss activities are more likely to succeed. This is why diets programs such as Weight Watchers have been successful for many people. In fact, the benefits are seen even by people who engage in a weight loss community primary online. Now that many of these diets are available online it is important that participants actually interact with the communities in order to gain the full and complete benefits of the service. Of course, don’t rule out face-to-face support groups as well.

5. Cooking at home

Home cooking may also be an essential step for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, people who cook at home consume fewer calories and eat healthier overall than people who do not. This is the case whether or not these home cooks are trying to lose weight. People who cook at home also consume fewer carbohydrates, less fat, and less sugar. In the case of families who cook at home six to seven times a week they also consume fewer calories when they do go out to eat. Of course, one of the biggest barriers to encouraging people to cook at home more often has nothing to do with the desire to eat healthier food. Demanding schedules and other obligations make eating out or fast food much more convenient. There are also some issues with the financial viability of cooking at home and the existence of food deserts in some areas.

6. Inspiration versus negativity

Surprisingly, one of the best things people can do to maintain their weight or even lose weight is to surround themselves with positive energy and inspiration. In December 2014, the University of Waterloo published a study that demonstrated that women who are criticized about their weight by well-meaning family and friends actually tend to gain weight even when they’re trying to lose it. When people feel bad about themselves they tend to seek advice from loved ones. If, instead of receiving encouragement, their own negative self-image is reinforced they are much more likely to gain extra weight. While this is partly about the power of positive thinking, there is more to this psychology than simply seeking out cheerleaders. People who receive positive reinforcement are actually much more likely to lose weight when they try than those who do not have this kind of motivation.

Ultimately, the diet or lifestyle that you choose in regards to healthier weight and a better relationship with food needs to be rooted in something that works for you individually. Mindful eating may work better for some people than the Mediterranean diet, but others may see results with the Mayo Clinic Diet. In any case, learning a new way to eat is the only real way to accomplish sustainable and healthy weight loss.

What lifestyle change and diet can you adapt to work for you?

Image by Jim Lukach via Flickr


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