HELP! I Don’t Eat Much and I’m Still Not Losing Weight!
Have you ever decided that enough is enough and you’re finally going to do something about your weight and go on a diet?
Maybe you saw a photograph of yourself. Maybe you want to look nice for a special event. Or maybe, you’re just sick of feeling overweight and unhealthy?
After hitting your snap point, you decide that the best place to start is to cut back your food. But after a few weeks, you haven’t lost anything. In fact, the scales indicate that you’ve actually gained weight! How can that be if you’ve been eating a lot less than you did before going on the diet?
Less Food Doesn’t Equal Less Weight
I see many people in this situation and it’s a very painful place to be in. You feel you’ve been working hard, and even sacrificing many things (e.g. the foods you love to eat the most), yet you’re still not getting results.
But I know exactly what’s happening: you’re just not eating enough food!
What usually happens when people hit a snap point is that they go from one extreme to another: from eating whatever they like and whatever makes them feel good (which is usually high in calories), to eating ‘diet’ food (which usually means cutting carbs and/or meals).
This all or nothing thinking approach is a recipe for disaster.
Eating Less (but Consuming More)
Most people aren’t aware of how important food is when it comes to losing weight. That’s why it’s common for people to cut back to only 2 or 3 meals a day. However, these meals are often highly processed, high in calories, and don’t leave you feeling satisfied.
For example, someone who is eating 2 meals a day might eat:
- Breakfast – bowl of toasted muesli with a tub of full fat yoghurt.
- Snack – muffin with large cappuccino (because they were so hungry and couldn’t wait until dinner to eat again).
- Dinner – plate of pasta with a cream-based sauce.
While these 2 meals and a snack don’t constitute a large amount of food, the number of calories consumed over the day is high. In addition, there is very little nutritional value in this food, and due to the fact that it’s highly processed, it won’t keep you feeling full for very long. Someone eating like this is likely to feel very hungry throughout the day.
Hunger Leads to Bingeing
The one thing we know is that if your body doesn’t get enough food, it will do anything to make up for it down the track. This usually plays out in several ways:
- At 3pm, you notice the familiar mid-afternoon slump and your cravings for sugary foods are intense.
- After dinner, you end up bingeing on whatever you can find in the cupboard or fridge because you’re so hungry.
- You might make it through Monday to Friday depriving yourself on food, but by the weekend you can’t control yourself anymore and end up eating whatever you can find.
What’s happening here is that your body is trying to make up for the food that it has missed out on, because your body will always try to make up for the deficit.
Think of it like this — you’re going to drive from Melbourne to Sydney. You know that it usually costs around $300 in fuel to make the trip. However, you’re going to try to get there on just $50 of fuel. What happens? You don’t make it, and you have to top up the tank with the fuel that you thought you didn’t need anyway even if it’s low quality.
What You eat Now Will Determine What You Eat Later
If you have a diet mindset and want to lose weight you will most likely restrict your food in an attempt to cut calories and lose weight. Even if you eat a ‘healthy’ meal with your family you’ll probably only eat half of what you need to, because you’re trying to lose weight.
While you might be eating ‘healthy food’, what you don’t realise is that only eating a small amount will lead to you looking for more food later on, when your body screams out that it’s starving.
The truth is what you eat now determines what you eat later. If you eat small portions and deprive yourself now, in a bid to cut calories and lose weight, then later on, you’ll go searching for more food and will most likely make up for the deficit with high-calorie foods. But if you eat enough food now, you will avoid the need to make up for that deficit.
The other factor that you may not be aware of, is the rule of proximity. That means that when you’re hungry, you’ll reach for the closest and easiest thing you can find, in order to satisfy your hunger. That may mean getting a cheeseburger from the drive-thru, a chocolate bar from the petrol station, or a muffin from the café.
It’s for this very reason that I encourage weekly food preparation to ensure that you have a continual supply of healthy food, ready to go for when you are hungry. It’s also wise to set up your home environment (in particular, your kitchen), to support your weight loss by having it setup to allow you to easily do the food preparation.
What Should You Do If You’re Not Losing Weight?
To lose weight, you have to eat more food. The best food is that which contains optimal nutrition, and which will keep you feeling satisfied. For starters, think ‘colour and crunch’. If each meal contains lots of colour and you have to really work your way through it because it is so crunchy, then you are on the right track.
Eating enough food means eating until you’re satisfied and then stopping. Unfortunately, most people stop before they’re satisfied because they’re worried about gaining weight. What they don’t realise is that they’ll end up binge eating later on, because they didn’t eat enough at their last meal
If you’re not used to eating lots of food, start by eating small, nutritious meals more often. You need to eat until you’re satisfied (not stuffed). If you’re still hungry after your meal, have another serve and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s far better to eat more at your meals than deprive yourself and binge later on. If you’re eating healthy meals but gaining weight, then chances are your meals are too small, and you’re supplementing your meals with other high-calorie choices.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with eating foods that are not considered to be ‘healthy’. That’s because there are no good or bad foods; rather there are foods that serve different purposes. For example, there’s nothing wrong with eating dessert with the family because you want to enjoy it and have a special time with those you love. I actually encourage you to do this, because by allowing yourself the foods you love, you’re less likely to engage in emotional eating.
However, eating a whole tub of ice-cream on the couch after dinner, is another matter. This type of eating isn’t enjoying food. It’s trying to make up for the food-deficit you created by not eating enough.
Instead of focusing on cutting back your food, focus on eating more of the foods that will get you results. Because if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll never get the permanent results you’re looking for.
Need Help With Your Eating?
I know that if you’ve always been a dieter, it can be very hard to simply start eating more food. Your head will play games with you and you will question everything you think you know about weight loss and dieting. Getting over the guilt around eating food, whether it’s larger amounts or the foods you love, can be tough. But that’s where I can help.
I can help you overcome your confusion and fear around food, so you can finally feel free with your eating, and get on the path to permanent weight loss.
My Metabolic Nutrition program will give you specific, personalised action steps and provide you with the right amount of structure and accountability to help you learn to eat the type and quantity of food that will help you get the results you are looking for.
You will get the knowledge, tools and learn the skills and system to help you deal with any situation, so you can keep moving forward and keep making progress, even on your worst days.