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Weight Loss » Food For Weight Loss » How To Lose Weight When You Love Food: Shed Pounds While Enjoying Your Favorite Meals

How To Lose Weight When You Love Food: Shed Pounds While Enjoying Your Favorite Meals

how to lose weight when you love food

How To Lose Weight When You Love Food

The tastes, the flavors, the smells, the cooking process – many love food so wholeheartedly that the mere idea of switching up to bland low-calorie foods kills any burgeoning desire to modify your eating habits and set your life on a healthier path.  Indeed, popular diets sometimes contribute to this myth. Meal plans that revolve around one product, juice cleanses – surviving on an extremely restricted product range may seem horrible, and it actually is. Read this article to debunk one of the most persistent dieting myths and find out how to lose weight when you love food.

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What is a balanced diet?

In order to grasp how to lose weight when you love food, you first of all need to understand that a healthy diet doesn’t automatically imply tasteless repetitive low-calorie meals. 

Generally, a balanced diet is a nutritional plan that contains all the vitamins and macronutrients indispensable for the correct functioning of your body. A healthy diet is a must not only for weight loss, but for health maintenance as well. Even if you’re completely satisfied with your weight, you still need to follow a proper diet in order to shield yourself from possible health problems that can ‘ambush’ you in the future. A balanced diet is strongly connected to the reduction of obesity, as well as lowered risks of chronic diseases tied to obesity, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer (9, 7). 

The USDA states that the majority of your daily energy intake should come from fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and protein, preferably from seafood and plant sources (10). 

As you can see, a balanced diet implies the consumption of a huge variety of different foods. In reality, if you truly love food, a balanced diet can deliver you a plethora of new food experiences.

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What to eat if you want to lose weight

  • Whole grains

Whole grains are remarkably rich in carbs and fiber. Adding barley, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, or millet to your daily menu can boost your energy, help lose unwanted pounds, and reduce cardiovascular risks (11).

  • Leafy greens

Leafy greens like kale, collard, spinach, and arugula protect you against serious conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers, macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes (4).

  • Legumes

Legumes are incredibly rich in vegetable protein, which is generally healthier than animal-based one, and are linked to reduced risk of heart disease, lowered blood pressure, and reduced cholesterol levels (3).

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  • Nuts

Nuts such as almonds and walnuts improve the condition of your body as a whole. They are also a vital source of polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3. Nuts are so good that they could protect against Type 2 diabetes and cancer (1).

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  • Dairy products

Dairy products: kefir, low-fat cottage cheese, and natural yogurts without added sugar provide protein and calcium which is indispensable for bones and teeth, and improve your digestion.

  • Sea fish

Sea fish contain lots of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood helps maintain eyesight, keeps your skin supple, amplifies your intellectual performance, and even lowers the risk of depression (5).

  • Fruits and berries

Fruits and berries hydrate your skin, and protect your body from inflammation and disease. They contain tons of vitamins and minerals as well. 

You have to avoid deep-fried foods, sweetened sparkling drinks, burgers, ketchup and similar fatty sauces, sausages, and other processed meat products, sweets, and packaged juices. In general, your menu should not contain products with trans-fats, artificial sweeteners, or harmful preservatives. 

As you can see, there is a great variety of products, and even wider diversity of dishes to cook. But, unfortunately, you can’t always eat what you want and lose weight, if you desperately crave for a cheeseburger, rather than a light salad. But why is it so? Why do people want to eat harmful foods so much?

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How to lose weight when you love junk food

When asking how to lose weight when you love food, by «food» people often mean harmful foods filled with fat, sugar, sodium, and artificial preservatives. In fact, there are good reasons why those products are so addictive

On one hand, there is culture. Recent research points out that the majority of Americans consider unhealthy food tasty, while the majority of French feel the opposite (8). This suggests that Americans are bombarded with marketing messages that glorify unhealthy foods, so unsurprisingly this idea seeped into their subconscious. So, on one hand, there is a cultural representation of food, which portrays harmful foods as tasty, and healthy food – as bland. 

One the other hand, there are biological reasons why you love junk food so much. Humans are biologically programmed to release serotonin when they get sodium, sugar, and fat. That is because the last two are dense sources of energy needed for survival. With the development of civilization, however, humans learned to produce foods with immense amounts of those components, so as to trigger a positive response. 

Junk food and emotional eating

Other reasons that make us turn to junk food are emotional eating or eating when bored. In fact, you may not really love fast food. Instead, you might be desperately trying to fill an emotional void in your soul, or cope with anxiety and depression. 

When we eat while bored or stressed, what is actually happening is the effort to try to wake up dopamine neurons so that you can feel good once again. That’s what makes emotional eating a coping tool for stress, anxiety, or boredom. 

How to lose weight when you love food? These tips may help. 

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How to stop eating so much and lose weight

No distractions

While chewing your dish in front of your laptop may not seem a cause of weight gain, eating while distracted has a real impact on your weight. That is because when you’re doing something else while eating, you’re not fully paying attention to how much you consume, and tend to automatically continue eating even though you’re already full. At the same time, the good old tradition of family dinners allows you to eat slower and connect with your loved ones. Also, you should keep your smartphone away during your meals because you may get distracted.  Eating while doing something else isn’t optimal when you’re trying to keep your weight on track.

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Eat slowly

As mentioned before, family dinners allow you to eat slower. Why is it so important? The pace at which you consume your food has a strong impact on your weight loss process. Of course, sometimes you’ve got time only for a quick snack, but remember: fast eating has been associated with higher BMI (6). When you eat too fast, your brain lacks time to notify you that you’re full. If you plan your time to eat at a slower pace, you’ll notice that you tend to eat less. As a definite plus, you’ll come to enjoy the taste, flavor, and texture of your meals. That’s what makes a healthy diet an amazing choice if you love food.

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Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating is often used as a treatment for a wide variety of health conditions including food-related behaviors like binge eating and emotional eating, as well as anxiety and depression. Mindful eating supports your weight loss as well (2). 

Follow these principles when deciding to eat mindfully:

  • Focus all your attention on your meal and the experience of eating.
  • Eat only to satisfy your physical hunger. Reflect on whether your craving is actually hunger bubbling up or whether you are simply thirsty or in need to kill some time. 
  • Eat nutritious and healthy products.
  • Eat slowly and savor every single bite.
  • Be attentive to the signals your body sends you, and eat only until you’re full. 

Mindful eating is based on the practice of mindfulness, with all its benefits. When eating mindfully, you learn to be more attentive to your body and its needs. When you continuously ask yourself, “How well do I feel after this snack?” you’ll recognize the process of gaining awareness of your own particular nutritional needs. 

Drink enough water

Water is an essential factor in your health. It supports many vital functions and could help you lose weight. Simply drinking a glass of water before your dinner will make you eat less and feel full faster. Drink a glass of freshly squeezed lemon water in the morning to boost your weight loss process.

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Try intermittent fasting

This approach can definitely help you lose weight without drastic calorie or food restriction, and improve your general health condition as well. Intermittent fasting does not prescribe the number of calories you should consume, neither it restricts your menu. In essence, it is an eating pattern that prohibits you to eat for a certain number of hours, and then allows you to enjoy your food in an eating window. Intermittent fasting may be a particularly appealing option if you don’t want to restrict calories too much or you’re not really into regular physical activities. 

Favorite foods diet

Some approaches suggest that instead of limiting your menu, you should focus on mindful eating and developing your sensitivity to food. In general, there is nothing wrong with the favorite foods diet, unless your favorite food is a cheeseburger. Your diet should not feel like a torture, and you should not feel guilty if you allow yourself to indulge in a treat once a week. But if your weight loss problems are based more on the type of foods you eat, rather than their quantity, you will need to restructure your menu and exclude unessential products filled with empty calories. 

Can you lose weight eating pizza?

Technically, yes. As long as you maintain an energy deficit, you’ll lose weight regardless of what you eat. But it is a really unhealthy method of weight loss. Read more about those types of diets in the articles on the Oatmeal and Carrot diets.

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Final thought

How to lose weight when you love food? First of all, you need to understand that a healthy diet does not mean eating chicken and broccoli all the time. There are plenty of recipes that can help you enjoy the amazing taste of healthy foods. Then, you can use some tips and methods listed above to make your weight loss journey a complete success.

Do you know that your body needs some exercise in addition to a proper diet? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Almond consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with prediabetes (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. An Acceptance-Based Behavioral Intervention for Weight Loss: A Pilot Study (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3. Cereal grains and legumes in the prevention of coronary heart disease and stroke: a review of the literature (2006,  ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (2013, ars.usda.gov)
  5. Dietary fish, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption, and depression risk in Japan: a population-based prospective cohort study (2017, nature.com)
  6. Faster self-reported speed of eating is related to higher body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. How to Combat the Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition: The Influencing Role of Health Consciousness (2015, journals.sagepub.com)
  9. Preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes: a common agenda for the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  10. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans ( 2015, choosemyplate.gov)
  11. Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis (2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Alex Porter

Alex Porter

Alex is a professional writer who takes pride in helping people achieve their health goals and motivates others to start taking care of their bodies through exercise and proper nutrition. Being a part of the BetterMe Team, he is extremely inspired by our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle, which includes not only physical, but also mental well-being. Alex emphasizes the importance of safe yet efficient workouts and healthy diets. His main goal is to make more people realize how essential these aspects are, and how drastically they can improve their lives.

Soraya Ziou

Soraya Ziou

Hi everyone! I am a Canadian Registered Dietitian (RD) who graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada. I worked at the Montreal Pediatric University Hospital and the Ottawa Heart Institute before joining the International Clinic of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. With a strong interest in community nutrition, I worked in Haiti and in Syrian refugee camps affected by the scourge of malnutrition. I am passionate about food and its science!

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