We’ve spent the last week discussing eating disorders, what triggers them and how they can negatively affect your life. But we don’t want anyone to think that all weight loss attempts result in disordered eating or full-blow eating disorders.
If you want to lose a few pounds (or a lot of pounds) there are very healthy ways of doing so. Ways that don’t require you to binge on exercising or skip meals. We asked our friend Erin, a health and diet connoisseur for the college female at Student Body, for her advice on dieting the healthy way.
Her advice is below:
If you want to lose weight, there are questions you should ask yourself before devising a plan.
1. Do you think you’ll be happier once you lose ten pounds? All other aspects of your life will be the same; if you think things will be different when the weight is gone, you’re allowing your happiness to be dependent on your weight and shape. Ask yourself what will really change.
2. Do you really need to lose weight? Contrary to what the trainers in the gym tell you, whether or not you need to lose weight can’t be determined by calculating your BMI or consulting a height-weight chart. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be at a weight that you haven’t been since middle school. Your ideal weight is nothing more than the weight your body naturally goes to when you feed it well, exercise regularly and feel your best. That is different for every single person.
If your happiness is dependent on your weight and shape, and you’re never satisfied with your physical appearance, these are unhealthy attitudes and may signal disordered eating.
“Disordered eating is when a person’s attitudes about food, weight, and body size lead to very rigid eating and exercise habits that jeopardize one`s health, happiness, and safety,” according to the National Eating Disorders Association. These feelings and behaviors can lead to eating disorders, so it’s best to recognize them and contact a health professional now before things get worse.
If you don’t feel that your happiness depends on your weight, and genuinely want to lose weight, it will require a plan that takes into consideration the unique situation of the college student. It’s not realistic to think that we’re going to be able to prepare three nutritious meals a day while in school. Convenience, time and socializing are all issues that prevent us from always eating healthfully.
I address the challenges of maintaining your weight while in college on my blog, Student Body and have many tips, ideas and advice to do so. Some of them are:
• First, assess why past diets have failed. “Yo-yo dieting” can have long-lasting, negative effects on your metabolism. If you drastically reduce calories, you’re also likely to deprive yourself of essential nutrients. Nutritionists recommend that sedentary women usually need at least 1200-1300 calories a day, but that’s if you’re carefully monitoring nutrient intake.
•Lose it slowly. Instead of a crash diet, reduce your intake by 100-200 calories and eat more filling, high-fiber foods to combat hunger.
•Small changes are most likely to be long-lasting. Trading mayo for mustard, or a side of fries for a side of veggies makes a big difference in the long run.
•Don’t try to make unrealistic, drastic changes. If you absolutely love a certain food, swearing to never eat it again may lead to craving and binges.
•Brush off mistakes. They are unavoidable. Demanding perfection is setting yourself up to fall short.
•Target mindless eating. Are there any high-calorie foods that you consume that you wouldn’t miss? Food shopping once a week and planning your meals out can be a good way to avoid this. Now its easier than ever with online grocery services that deliver to your doorstep.
•Treat your body well by appreciating the taste and texture of food and the way your body feels after exercise.
•Finally, don’t let yourself miss out on the important things by spending all your time thinking about your weight. Your diet should be one aspect of your life, and it should never require you to turn down a social opportunity, distract you from school or diminish your self-esteem. If it does, those body image issues need to be dealt with before going on any type of diet.