Too many bad days

I don't mean to imply by dwelling on bad days that you'll experience them frequently or that extreme measures are needed to survive them. In my experience, really difficult times happened no more frequently than every other month, and never lasted beyond the next meal. If you find you're suffering real hunger (as opposed to the desire to eat—learn to distinguish them) on a frequent or regular basis, it's time to revise your meal or diet plan. If hunger occurs at the same time every day, try shifting calories from another meal to the meal that precedes the problem period. Often a few shuffles of calories among meals can match the calories you eat to when you need them during the day and eliminate hunger attacks.

You can also try removing calories from a largish meal and allocating them to a planned snack in the middle of the problem interval. This moves in the direction of more meals with fewer calories apiece which many people find helps them minimise hunger. As long as your meal plan adds up to the same calories per day, any schedule is fine. Experiment until you find what works best for you.

If no amount of shifting calories from meal to meal or fiddling with your meal schedule works, if you still experience frequent attacks of serious hunger (as opposed to the "Gee, I wish it were time for dinner" that's normal whilst dieting), it's time to revisit your original diet plan—you may be trying to lose weight too rapidly. If your calorie deficit, calculated from the trend, is substantially above 500 calories per day this is particularly likely. Adjust your meal plan to bring the daily calorie shortfall down to the vicinity of 500. You won't lose weight as fast, but neither will you suffer hunger attacks that may prompt you to abandon the diet entirely. Also, remember there's nothing magic about a 500 calorie per day shortfall; it's convenient to talk about since it translates into a pound a week which many people find tolerable, but recall the wide variation in individual calorie requirements. A 500 calorie per day cutback reduces the food intake of a five foot tall, lightly built woman by more than a third but it's only one fifth the daily requirement of a robust six foot man. Clearly, the woman is going to miss those 500 calories a lot more than the man, and should probably choose a more gradual rate of weight loss to minimise hunger. Refer to the directions for planning the calorie cutback and diet duration on page 215, explore several alternatives, then revise your meal plan to achieve the new calorie target.

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