After losing weight, you’re usually faced with a choice, change some old habits to maintain it or slowly return to old habits and gain the weight back. Unfortunately, old habits and weight gain usually win.
It’s not always about will power, though.
If you think about your life prior to weight loss, you can probably list the habits that made you overweight. For me it was frequently overeating, eating when I wasn’t hungry and my food choices in general.
If I returned to those old habits after losing weight, I’d be back where I started. Those habits didn’t make me enjoy life, though, it was still difficult to give them up.
I had to reframe my thinking along with my habits; rather than being sad about leaving them behind, I focused on how awful I felt then versus how amazing I felt now. This was enough to keep me motivated until newer habits became routine.
I realized many of my bad habits were because of poor food choices. To know which foods to avoid, it helps to understand the difference between foods that you enjoy and foods that are addictive.
Foods that you enjoy don’t have to be addictive; I love broccoli with garlic, but I can easily stop when I’m full and I don’t get uncontrollable cravings for broccoli.
Addictive foods are exactly as they sound. When you eat them, you have a hard time feeling full and satisfied or stopping after one serving. You’ll often have strong cravings in the hours and days following, which can be nearly impossible to overcome.
If you’ve ever overindulged during the holidays (who hasn’t?) you’ve probably realized that in the days following, you have strong cravings to eat when you’re not hungry, constantly think about sweet treats and find it hard to get back into healthy eating.
I call these addictive foods triggers, because they trigger reverting back to old habits of overeating and cause cravings that are hard to control. Below is a list of common triggers. Limiting them will greatly help you stay on track with maintenance and eating healthy.
These are carbohydrates that have been processed to taste good, often removing all the fiber and nutrients. The problem with these ingredients is that they’re addictive. Studies show they stimulate a pleasure response and cravings that are more intense than with normal carbohydrates, and are typically stronger than willpower. They can also reduce enjoyment of healthier foods, because their reward isn’t as pleasurable; which explains why you’d rather have a cookie over an apple.
Foods with refined carbohydrates are made with various types of sugar and/or flour. It’s important to read labels and look out for these types of ingredients. Common foods that contain refined carbohydrates are:
– Baked goods and packaged bread
– Ice cream
– Sweetened beverages
– Flavored yogurt
– Protein and energy bars
– Crackers and cookies
Processed foods are often created with the perfect balance of fat, carbohydrates and salt to make them hyper-palatable, which provides an increased pleasure response, not to mention, they commonly contain refined carbohydrates. These foods are highly addictive, which explains why one chip, turns into a handful and then mindless munching while watching TV. It’s really hard to just have one. The additives don’t cause these foods to be addictive, so choosing organic varieties won’t necessarily minimize their effect.
– Chips, all plain and flavored varieties
– Pretzels, plain and flavored
– Cheese and flavored crackers
– Fried foods
– Frozen pizza, snacks and meals
Refined carbohydrates and processed foods are addicting. Limiting them can help you reduce cravings and get more enjoyment from healthier foods, therefore making maintenance much easier. Finding the balance that works best for you will help you enjoy food and life while staying on track and not feeling deprived.
If you struggle with maintaining weight loss in normal life, check out this guide and learn simple tips to help you stay motivated, eat less without feeling deprived or counting calories and enjoy life in your leaner, healthier body.
Originally published at medium.com