Many weight loss food programs have you eating or drinking all kinds of strange things.
And if you’re a seasoned dieter, you’ve no doubt tried more than a few: chalky smoothies or shakes, protein bars that taste like cardboard, or frozen meals that remind you of airplane food.
Here at GreenLite, we know people are busy. You don’t always have time to prepare nutritious meals with freshly sourced ingredients. And so we understand that it’s tempting to want a quick fix.
But you should be discriminating when you’re comparing weight loss food programs, whether it’s a new diet trend or even advice from your doctor. Here are some tips from our obesity experts on what to look for:
1. Real food should be the focus.
If you want to lose weight for the long haul, you have to learn how to prepare meals yourself – period. There’s just no getting around that one (unless you have the money to hire a personal chef for the rest of your life).
- Do you know how to shop your local grocery store for the healthiest options?
- Can you put together meals?
- Are you able to add enough variety into your eating habits so you don’t get bored and fall back into bad habits?
- Do you know how to ask for healthy substitutions at restaurants?
If not, it’s time to learn. Good weight loss food programs take into account that you’re going to be in real-life situations that require navigating. So your best bet is to learn how to handle those situations now – by learning how to cook and eat for weight loss.
2. Supplements should be secondary.
Since real food should be the focus, it comes naturally that supplements, shakes, bars, or other “weight-loss” foods ought to only play a supporting role in your diet. It’s easy to go overboard on these things, especially since they’re designed to make things convenient.
But while they may be weight-loss friendly, keep in mind they’re still packaged, processed products – which aren’t great to consume in large quantities. Weight-loss food programs that focus solely on some special liquid diet, pills, or protein bars aren’t going to serve your long-term success.
Sure, use these things to support your weight loss, but don’t rely on them so heavily that you don’t know what to do without them.
3. You shouldn’t be hungry.
People usually equate dieting and weight loss with starvation. Ironically enough, a proper weight loss food program keeps you eating – frequently! When you’re consuming the right balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates), your body stays full and hunger cravings tend to drastically decrease. Any program that doesn’t make you feel this way probably won’t work for very long.
Our clients, since they eat high amounts of protein and few carbohydrates, often report that hunger cravings they’ve battled their whole lives “magically” go away.
But it’s not magic – it’s science.
4. It should be sustainable.
When you’re looking at potential weight loss food programs, you should also take into account whether or not the program is sustainable for the long run. Can you do this for several months? A year? Until you reach your weight loss goal? If the answer is no, you’re probably not on the right track. Eating for weight loss that actually lasts means radically changing your relationship with food. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever indulge again, it just means you’ll have to make changes that you can realistically maintain on some level. For example, when our clients transition from a restricted-calorie diet back to a normal eating plan, the ones who are successful in keeping the weight off don’t throw what they learned out the window and go back to old habits. They adjust for slip-ups, learn to indulge in healthier ways, but they keep the core foundation of what they learned strong.
Another important thing to think about when it comes to weight loss food programs is that they should account for personalization – meaning that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to work. Can you adapt it to suit your needs? Is there room for customization? Or is it rigid and strict? If it doesn’t feel like it’s going to work for your unique challenges and goals, it’s not likely to have staying power.