Losing weight can be challenging, but what is even more challenging is maintaining a healthier weight. A dietitian will help you in your weight loss journey by showing you how you can get started and most importantly how you can keep on going.
Around 70% of Maltese adults are overweight or obese with the WHO identifying Malta as one of the European countries with the highest obesity prevalence. If this includes you, we know that losing just 5-10% of your weight will have positive health benefits such as a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. The first question that you should ask yourself is “Am I ready to start my weight loss journey?”.
If the answer is ‘yes’, a dietitian will be able to help you to set a goal and an action plan.
By setting a goal and action plan, you are clear on what you want to achieve and you will be able to set well-defined, measurable goals, which is the key to success. Setting yourself a realistic weight loss goal will make the goal more achievable and therefore you are more likely to succeed. This will in turn boost your confidence in your ability to lose weight and will encourage you to continue doing so. A weight loss of between 5-10% over 3-6 months, or 0.5-1kg per week is a realistic target. More often than not, if you are losing a lot more than this per week, you are doing a ‘fad diet’ which is often extreme, overly restrictive, and nutritionally imbalanced. This will mean that it is hard to stick to in the long run, therefore bouncing back to your old weight, if not more, once you stop.
Once your goal is set, you will need to set an action plan on how to actually achieve this goal. You may want to start by choosing 2 or 3 small changes that you want to do. Saying “I will eat more vegetables” can be quite vague however saying “I will eat more vegetables and do this by having 2 portions of vegetables per day, one at lunch and one at dinner” makes your action plan and goal clear and specific, and therefore more achievable. When successful, you can move on to more changes or build on the ones you have already established.
A dietitian will also help you and guide you on how you can monitor yourself. People that keep track of themselves regularly are more successful at keeping weight off. Evidence shows that people who weigh themselves once or twice a week lose more weight. It is however important to only do this if it isn’t affecting your mental health. If it is, you can consider using your clothes as a guide to whether you are losing weight or not.
Keeping a food diary can help you to be more aware of your eating habits and help you feel more in control of what you are eating. A good food diary will help you look back and see how times, places, people, and your mood affect your food intake. This can help you and your dietitian when choosing the small changes that you wish to make.
The Dietitian’s Role
Overall, a dietitian will help you to lose weight by aiming for a healthy, balanced eating plan, therefore, working towards a lifestyle change. A dietitian will show you how to plan ahead, teach you about portion sizes, and how you can prepare balanced meals and snacks. Remember that these lifestyle changes are never plain sailing however when life throws up challenges sending us off track, together we can use these as a learning opportunity to manage them better next time.
If you think that you can benefit from a consultation, you can reach out here.
Justine Parnis Ignjatovic is a dietitian at Willingness. She advises both adults and children on what to eat to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve health-related goals. She has experience in managing a variety of conditions through nutrition in a holistic way.
Image sourced from Total Shape