Eat guilt free

Don't worry, the lost kilos won't reappear if you eat your favourite foods in moderation

People who have worked so hard to lose those additional kilos will wonder how life will look once they have finally reached that 'magic number' on the scale.

They often have fears like "Will I be able to enjoy my favourite foods again?" "Can I trust myself to eat my favourite foods and still ensure that the weight doesn't return?" "How will I know when to stop?" "How can I indulge in my favourite comfort foods without going on a binge and feeling horribly guilty later?" Or "I am terrified that easing up on my diet will pack on the kilos again."

Such food aversions or food fears are triggered in individuals at both ends of the weight spectrum.

On one side of the spectrum is the severely malnourished anorexic girl, whose palms get clammy and pulse starts to race at the prospect of consuming any food at all.

On the other side, is the overweight/obese woman who has been struggling to shed weight for so long that she makes extraordinary efforts to deprive herself of any treats or comfort food that she may have savoured in the past.

It is therefore ironic that one of the major reasons why people struggle to maintain their weight loss is precisely because they doggedly refuse to indulge themselves in their favourite foods.

You can only have willpower for so long. Then you are likely to binge on the very foods that you are trying to avoid," says Diet coach Judith Beck, PhD, a psychologist and author of The Beck Diet Solution.

"Factor your favourite or comfort food into your meal plan once or twice weekly. Chew the food slowly, taste every bite and do not feel guilty about it afterward," says Muffazal Lakdawala, a renowned laparoscopic bariatric surgeon and obesity expert. He, along with his team of nutritionists, encourages patients to practise moderation in everything they do.

Watch out for triggers that make you vulnerable to 'emotional eating' such as waiting too long, being too strict with your diet and demanding nothing short of perfection from yourself.

Eating on time and eating a healthy nourishing breakfast with carbohydrates and proteins that take longer to break down in your body, creates a feeling of satiety. Allowing little treats to keep yourself on track is extremely important. Lakdawala stresses that eating the occasional sweet will not derail your success!

People who have successfully managed to stave off the excess weight and maintain their new weight agree with Lakdawala. They have found that including an occasional samosa or mithai in their meals in moderation has eliminated the sense of deprivation that once threatened to eclipse all their weight-loss efforts by eventually prompting an eating binge.

The awareness that no food item is strictly out of bounds has fostered a renewed dedication to achieving weight loss goals and maintaining this weight over an extended period of time. The advice to all the yo-yo dieters out there is, "Don't always eat perfectly; just eat smart!"

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