Now that I am running a nutrition consulting business and working for myself, I am the sole decision maker of setting the daily “to-do-list.” One task that I have made a priority is to spend one hour a day reading a nutrition or diet-related book. It’s important to me to keep up with the latest resources marketed to my clients. My goal is to have a repertoire of references for clients who ask about issues such as combating mindless eating (great book: Mindless Eating by Brian Wainsink), or perhaps want to be inspired to grow more of their own food (great book: Animal , Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver). The latest book on my book shelf is called the “The Thin Commandments.” While the actual “diet plan” is a “one-size-fits all plan” and is unsupported by research, I strongly agree with the author’s “10 thin commandments.” They are excellent behavioral strategies that one should assess if they are seeking permanent weight loss. Here are 5 of my favorites: Commandment 1: Think Historically, Not Calorically. To illustrate this commandment, I will use a personal example. I “heart” the Bucktown Pizza from Pi Pizza. “Calorically” I know that I can have one slice of deep dish pizza along with their K2 salad and be pleasantly satisfied on a perfect amount of calories. “Historically” however, I have never just eaten one piece, and the deliciousness brings me back in for slice #2. Therefore my “history” with this food is one in which I have low to no willpower. If I was trying to lose weight, it would be in my best interest to look at other “trigger” foods and perhaps weigh their history more than their calories. Commandment 2: Strategy is Stronger than Willpower My successful weight loss clients aren’t the ones with the most “willpower,” but those with the most strategies. They plan ahead. Example 1: Their grocery store lists include healthy snacks instead of depending on the vending machine at 3pm to come up with a nutritious 75 cent selection. Example 2: They set up a weekly exercise buddy, so when their 5am alarm goes off…it’s not the willpower that gets them to throw off the cover, it ‘s the friend waiting for them at the park. Strategy = Success. Commandment 3: Separate Mood from Food Sad? Chips. Depressed? Cake. Angry? Cereal. If eating is dictated by your mood, any weight lyou lose could easily be regained time and time again until the mood is separated from food. Does food ever solve the problem? If you address the emotion with the right response, the result will be guilt-free and empowering. Commandment 4: The slips should teach you, not defeat you. It took years to create unhealthy habits, therefore it only makes sense that it takes months and years to re-script new ones. We learn from slip ups. My most successful clients are those who can hop back the healthy habit weight train without any guilt.Commandment 5: Losing Weight is Half the Job. Keeping it Off is the Other Half DIET is something you go ON and perhaps OFF. No wonder it is so easy to regain weight. That is why practicing behaviors and strategies that you can manage for a lifetime, not just 12 weeks is key. Losing weight should not feel depriving, but liberating. You should be eating in a way that you can eat forever, sustaining healthy habits. When healthy behaviors become just what you DO and who you ARE, you can live in this “world of food” as a healthy person…for good. Thy shalt be healthy!
Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.