Living in a culture where a catch up over cake and a coffee is the norm, ample temptations dominate supermarket shelves and access to treats are cheap and easy, weight loss and weight maintenance can prove increasingly difficult.
In theory weight management is simple: Energy in (calorie intake) = Energy out (calories burned)
Therefore, to promote weight loss there needs to be a deficit in energy intake (generally 600 calories less than needed to maintain body body weight per day) or more energy needs to be burned through exercise, or ideally a combination of both to be most successful (3).
However, as most of us know it’s not quite so simple in practice, otherwise we wouldn’t be in the midst of the growing obesity epidemic!
Make sure you check out our ‘12 Evidence-based tips to help to help you lose weight!’ for information on some effective and sustainable weight loss techniques.
Modern technology can be an excellent resource for many. There are a variety of phone applications available to record daily food and drink intakes, calculate calorie consumption and set weight loss targets.
Don’t underestimate the power of peer support! Education around healthy eating, regular weigh-ins and organised physical activities are often used to promote sustainable lifestyle changes.
Some people may prefer one-to-one support to explore current dietary patterns and identify any areas with potential for change. People after a more prescriptive approach, may be guided on specific diets including calorie controlled plans, the 5:2 diet or very low calorie diet. Dietitians are the only qualified nutrition experts to advise people with specific medical conditions, so they can assess what may or may not be appropriate for an individual.
This includes the Atkins, cabbage soup, blood group, paleo, and the list continues…. Anything that advises the elimination of whole food groups could result in nutrient deficiencies, unpleasant side effects and are not sustainable. There are however a few diets that are backed by more positive scientific evidence, which can be of benefit if deemed safe by your healthcare team and with guidance from a Dietitian!
Weight management is most effective when healthy eating and an increased level of physical activity are combined. For those less mobile, have a look on the internet or seek support for more manageable chair or floor based activities.
Weight can be a complex issue that requires people to dedicate time and effort to gaining knowledge about nutrition and diet, skills in cooking healthy food and engaging with the psychological aspects of eating; being able to identify negative behaviours and find solutions.
Prochaska and DiClemente’s 1983 transtheoretical model of health behaviour change describes the way we progress, and potentially regress, through 5 stages of change as shown in the diagram below (21) .
Assessing motivation and readiness to change may be vital in identifying potential barriers to aid effective weight management (22) and support you to help implement positive life-long changes.
Unfortunately, the availability of psychological support can be limited with long waiting lists. However, for some people seeking this support may be essential to improve lifestyle behaviours for good. It is always worth asking your GP/ healthcare professional about what support is available and if you are eligible for a for a referral to local services.