Saturday, October 10, 2015


By Mary Kennedy                               

We all know diet books don't hold a magic cure. If they did, why are the shelves crowded with new releases every single month? And the truth is, some diet books do more harm than good: they promote extreme weight loss (which usually includes muscle loss), they eliminate entire food groups, and they go against scientific evidence.

Yet people buy diet books, try to follow their advice, meet with failure and then discard them. And the cycle continues. Another month, another slew of new releases.

So I tried something different. I did a completely unscientific survey (not random, not double-blind) and asked my clients to list what "worked" with their weight loss efforts. Interestingly, I found that the clients who managed to lose weight recommended the same "tips," and I thought I'd share them with you.  Just a caveat: I'm a clinical psychologist, not a registered dietician and I'm not offering these tips as medical advice (just a few fun observations).
1. If you don't know what you want to eat, don't eat!! Wait until you do know. Don't eat impulsively and grab whatever you see. Plan your meals carefully.  Don't "spend" calories on something that may not be high quality food and doesn't promote health or a feeling of fullness. (hint: protein and fiber are among the most filling foods and they will keep you satisfied for a longer period of time.) All my clients agreed when they found themselves idly staring into the refrigerator or opening kitchen cabinets, they took a deep breath and stepped back. No browsing or grazing allowed. A little of this, a little of that, and you've scarfed down half a day's calories!!

2. Go for a brisk walk and wait for the magic "20 minutes" to pass. Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you're full?  So take a deep breath and wait. You may be pleasantly surprised when the synapses connect and you no longer feel hungry. Nutritionists call this feeling "satiety." It simply means that you feel "full," and are not experiencing hunger pangs.         
  3. The simplest tip of all. Drink a big glass of water before each meal.  One of my clients keeps a big pitcher of water in the fridge, and adds some fruit slices to give it a little taste and make it look appealing.  You can use a fruit infuser like the one pictured below, or just float some lemon slices in ice water. I bought a fruit infuser when I spotted one at a spa in Palm Desert. They used sliced lemons, limes, grapefruit and even cucumber in a giant pitcher of chilled spring water--it was delicious. And it was so visually appealing, I found myself guzzling more water than usual. Which is a good thing.  If you prefer herb tea, that's a good possibility, too. The main thing is to choose something that you know you will drink. Here's what a fruit infuser looks like, in case you're wondering. I love mine and use it all the time.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I thought it was interesting that they seem to be "universally known" among people who have been successful in managing their weight. You might have your own tips you'd like to share and I'd love to hear them!

Mary Kennedy