Dieting is HARD. No one enjoys it, how could you? The reality of losing weight is that you HAVE to eat less than you burn, so ultimately it's not going to be an overly enjoyable experience.
This is because 99% of diets leave you hungry, tired and grouchy, but this doesn't have to be the case. To understand how to be in a calorie deficit without bring starving all the time, it's important to first understand what hunger really is.
If you are someone who has yo-yo dieted for years, or meticulously tracked calories for a long time, you may have un-learnt how to recognise your body's hunger signals. Many of us eat for a variety of reasons (boredom, routine, socially etc), but we don't often eat as a result of actual hunger, and this is one contributing factor to our national obesity crisis.
Hunger is an essential survival mechanism to make sure that we fuel our bodies enough for their output, and this is controlled predominantly by hormones in the brain (ghrelin & leptin). In my opinion, true hunger should be listened to - if your body is telling you (and I mean ACTUALLY telling you, not that you just want chocolate because you're bored) that you're hungry, then you need to eat! It is entirely possible to be in a calorie deficit whilst also not being hungry, and if you are finding this balance tricky, then read on for my 10 tips.
Prioritise volume. 100 calories or peanut butter and 100 calories of apple look completely different. Understanding the difference in volume of calorie dense and not so dense foods is vital to making sure you aren't hungry. A tiny meal of 500 calories won't fill you up half as much as a large meal of 500 calories - it's all in the foods you choose.
Drink more water. This doesn't mean that drinking should ever be a substitute for eating, but downing a pint of water before your meals will fill you up slightly more. Not only that, but the more water you can drink the better!
Consider cooking ingredients. Oils, butter, cheese and so on are all things that go into cooking that can be very high calorie. You may be tracking but are you counting the foods you can't see on your plate? Swapping normal oil for a 1 cal spray can save hundreds of calories every meal.
Increase fiber intake. High fiber foods are generally voluminous and low calorie, and they also are important to keep your insides healthy!
Veg, veg and more veg. Again, veg is high volume, low calorie AND great for you. We could all do with eating more veg (and a greater variety - think seasonal). Try and load up half of your plate with veggies before anything else.
Don't cut out anything. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! We have said it so many times, but it is human nature to want what we can't have. Include all your favourite treats in your diet, but in moderation, and you will find that you don't want them half as much as when you banned yourself from them completely. Just be mindful of their content, and make sure they don't make up your whole diet.
MOVE. The simplest way to create a small deficit is to move more, so long as you don't then eat more to counteract it. Have a look in the health app on your iPhone. Go to your average step count and add 3000 steps to that number. This is your new daily goal!
Make some sensible swaps. Love ice cream? Who doesn't! But instead of a 1000 calorie tub of Ben & Jerry's, go for a 300 calorie tub of Halo Top, or swap Coke for Diet Coke. There are so many lower calorie options that taste the same or close enough, that it just makes sense to make the swap.
Sleep! It hits 10pm, and you reach for the biscuits/chocolate/sweets. But why? You've had dinner so why are you hungry now? The answer is, you're not. As mentioned before, you're simply confusing tiredness and lack of energy for hunger, and so you reach for a sugary hit, when really what you need is to go to bed.
Get a Personal Trainer. This might be a shameless plug, but it is our job to help you diet and lose weight, so let us help you!
Hopefully this has helped with some ideas on how to make dieting slightly more bearable. Don't be fooled though, although these tips will help you out, dieting is never going to be all that great, so stick it out and see it through!