My five top tips for losing weight by Dr Saira Hameed
As a doctor working in one of the UK’s most highly specialised hospital weight clinics, I have had the privilege of helping thousands of patients to lose weight, improve their health and reclaim a feeling of living with a sense of ease.
I want to share with you my five top tips for losing weight – that I have taught my patients and which, just as importantly, they have taught me over the years:
Five top tips for losing weight
1. Back to basics:
Look at the food you are eating and ask some questions:
- Would my grandmother recognise this as food? Take yoghurt for instance – chances are she would recognise full-fat yoghurt as a single-ingredient item containing milk. But would she know that a modern, low-fat yoghurt, containing fillers, artificial flavours, sugar and sweeteners is nowadays considered to be food?
- Take a packet of food from your cupboard or fridge and read the ingredients. Do you understand what they are? Can you pronounce them? Are these the sorts of ingredients that your grandmother would have cooked with? If the answer to these questions is no, then would you expect your body to recognise these ingredients as food and be able to use them to keep you in great health?
The food industry has invaded our kitchens and hijacked our plates. Fifty per cent of the food eaten in the UK is now processed or ultra-processed. It is a high-stakes gamble to entrust your weight and health to the food industry, but there is another way – you can choose to cook. Cook from scratch. Cook using ingredients that you understand, can pronounce and which your grandmother would recognise as food. For tens of thousands of years, human beings have cooked their own food and in doing so did not have the weight and health issues that we have today. We can learn from them. We can cook.
3. The language of eating:
France’s cuisine is world-renowned. Yet the French do not have the same problem with a weight that we do. In French, when someone is hungry they say, ‘J’ai faim’ which literally translated means, ‘I have’ When they finish eating they say, ‘Je n’ai pas faim’ which means, ‘I don’t have hunger.’ This is a very good approach for judging if you have eaten enough. Choose to pause frequently during a meal and ask yourself, ‘If I had hunger at the start of eating, do I have hunger now?’ If you conclude, ‘Je n’ai pas faim; I don’t have hunger,’ then choose to stop eating at that point. This approach will guide you to eat when you are hungry and to stop when the hunger is no longer there, rather than eating to the point of feeling over-full.
Losing weight is primarily a question of being in the right mind-set. The great news is that when you are in the right headspace and are able to make losing weight an everyday priority, then you will achieve your weight loss goals. The sprinter Michael Johnson gives an exquisitely simple answer when asked the secret of his success: ‘I wanted it so bad.’ This isn’t to say that you need to be an elite athlete. It is simply that, with a focussed mindset, you will overcome any barriers that present themselves and your weight loss success will naturally follow.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be kind to yourself. If your eating doesn’t go exactly according to plan, choose not to conclude that a ‘good’ day has now become a ‘bad’ day and that you can now eat as much as you like of whatever you like, because today is ‘ruined’ and you will ‘start again tomorrow.’ Instead, pause. Ask yourself – if you dropped your mobile phone on the floor, would you then stamp on it? If you spent more than you planned in a shop, would you then go on a no-holds-barred shopping spree? Probably not. The same applies to food choices. If something doesn’t go quite right, move on. Choose to free yourself of this dieter’s ‘all or nothing’ approach. Today is still a ‘good’ day.
Many of my patients have achieved significant weight loss, health benefits, and well-being improvements by following my advice. I am confident that my five top tips will be just as beneficial for you in your own journey towards the weight that is right for you.