Let me preface by saying that every diet works because it creates a calorie deficit. Usually the more rigid and restrictive the diet, the greater the calorie deficit and the faster the weight loss.
It’s no secret that rigid and restrictive diet plans don’t work long-term because they are impossible to stick to.
The minute you ‘slip up’ feels like you’ve ruined all of your hard work and every time this happens it makes it harder to start over again.
Diet plans that force you to eliminate your favourite foods or entire food groups for the sake of weight loss are overly restrictive and unnecessary and for a lot of people, create even more of a problem.
The whole idea that some foods are good and some foods are bad is problematic in and of itself.
There is no single food or food group that is solely responsible for your weight gain just the same as there is no single good or food group that will be responsible for weight loss.
What is responsible for your weight gain is a consistent surplus of calories.
Those calories come from everything you eat regardless of what type of food it is.
Rigid and restrictive diets fail to educate you on this and instead, the success of that diet relies on your ability to stick the constraints of that diet regime.
Some people can stick it out for months at a time whereas others many only last a few short weeks or days even, depending on how restrictive the diet is.
This often leads to a cycle of over restriction, followed by binging usually by means of a weekend cheat meal that turns into an entire week of poor food choices and a huge surplus in calories.
Which ultimately leads to a spike in weight, only for the cycle to begin again with the next ‘new’ diet.
Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if you could just eat the foods you like and still lose weight?
Well, truth is, you can.
You just need to portion them appropriately to give your body the correct amount of calories you need.
You still need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid the foods you like to eat and it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your social life.
Flexible dieting allows you to do this.
Flexible dieting is exactly as the name suggests, a flexible approach to dieting.
Flexible food choices and flexible eating patterns to fit your body’s needs and your lifestyle.
Eating out with friends doesn’t have to mean blowing out your diet or ruining your progress. You still have to plan accordingly and it certainly pays to be organised but at the end of the day, your average calorie intake is what determines whether you lose weight or not.
Think of it like having a financial budget and you’ve got an allocated amount you can spend on each meal.
For example, if you’ve got 1,800 calories to spend today and you eat 4 meals, that’s an allowance of 450 calories per meal.
Let’s say you’re going out for dinner with friends tonight, instead of eating 3 x 450 calorie meals during the day and leaving yourself with 450 calories hoping to make a ‘healthy’ choice at dinner, you could ‘borrow’ some calories from one of your earlier meals and have them at dinner.
So let’s say instead of having your usual 450 calorie morning tea, you decide to skip it all together, borrowing that 450 calories and adding them to your dinner.
Now you’ve got a 900 calorie budget to spend at dinner. That should be enough for a nice meal and possibly even a glass of wine!
How’s that for a weight loss diet.
You can even borrow calories from other days throughout the week and the end result is still the same.
Let’s say you eat 1,800 calories x 7 days. That’s a weekly total of 12,600 calories.
If you’ve got a big weekend of social occasions coming up, you could borrow some calories from the 5 week days and add them to your weekend like this. Monday to Friday eat 1,600 calories and on Saturday and Sunday eat 2,300 calories and your weekly total calorie intake will still remain the same 12,600.
5 x 1,600 = 8,000 | 2 x 2,300 = 4,600 | 8,000 + 4,600 = 12,600 calories.
You still need to be in a calorie deficit for a consistent length of time in order to lose weight but there’s absolutely no reason to be rigid or restrictive for the sake of it.
Having a flexible approach means you can grab food on the run so long as you choose an option that fits within your nutritional budget for that meal, or for that day.
Having a flexible approach means you can still enjoy meals out with friends and family and remain on track and in control of your weight.
Having a flexible approach means no food or food group needs to be off limits for the sake of restriction.
Having a flexible approach to dieting allows you to learn along the way and discover new recipes, lower calorie varieties of your favourite foods and it helps teach habits that are sustainable.
It’s these sustainable habits that lead to long-term weight loss and success.
Following a flexible diet still requires you to hold yourself accountable and to keep an accurate food record, at least in the early stages but once you learn about what foods, recipes and snacks best fit within your daily calorie budget it’s very easy to stay on track.
It helps take the guesswork out of what to eat and when and it removes the worry of “I can’t eat that, it’s not in my diet”.
Trying to force yourself to eat bland and boring foods you dislike is never going to last and variety is the spice of life.
A well managed flexible diet will give you the knowledge, confidence and satisfaction of being in control of your food and your body to achieve the results whilst enjoying the process.
A great place to start is with an app like Lose It or My Fitness Pal. Begin keeping a record of what you eat and drink as well as the quantities you’ve consumed.
After a full week or two, you’ll have a pretty good amount of information about your diet, where the majority of your calories are coming from and what meals you may need to work on improving.