Some people (some very lucky, very irritating people) can eat whatever they want, do no exercise whatsoever, and stay effortlessly trim throughout their entire lives.
I am not one of those people.
I belong to that unfortunate category of people who can somehow gain a pound just by looking at a piece of cake. Admittedly, that may be because I can’t look at a piece of cake without eating it.
I have, by now, stopped looking for a miracle cure which will give me the body I want with minimal effort. I’ve done the groups, I’ve done low carb, I’ve done low fat, I’ve eaten clean, and I’ve done low cal. (I drew the line at 5:2 because I’m one of those hangry people and I don’t want to end up accidentally shouting at my boss and getting myself fired.)
If I have learned anything, it is that there is no miracle cure. And whilst the crash diets, and the diets which necessitate skipping meals or cutting out food groups, yield fast and impressive results, they tend to be unsustainable. When you are trying to stick to such a limited diet, it is often incompatible with leading a normal life, and it is very difficult not to crash off the wagon. And, when you do crash off the wagon, it is very difficult not to lose heart, and to gain back all the weight you have worked so hard to lose.
This lifetime of dieting does, however, double up as a lengthy research study into just about every single diet on the open market. And, as a result, I feel confident (if not remotely qualified or formally educated on the subject) in summarising the general rule of thumb for weight loss which is, in actual fact, fairly simple.
Eat less, and eat healthily, and you will lose weight
The “eat less” part is pretty straightforward. Eat three meals a day, leave room in your calorie budget for small snacks between meals, and don’t exceed your calorie allowance for the day. Have one plate per meal, and watch the portion sizes (no second helpings!).
The “eat healthily” part is, admittedly, slightly more complicated. Orthodoxy on the subject is in constant flux, and we are as a result bombarded with mixed messages. However, in practical terms, and keeping things simple… it’s about what you put on your plate, not what you leave off it. Start by filling half your plate with fruit or veg, and (at lunch and dinner) include at least one portion of something green. Fill the other half with a balance of protein and carb. Keep the snacks small, clean and simple (they are just fuel to keep you going between meals). Make it fruit or veg – and no biscuits, crisps, or cake.
Follow the simple “healthy plate” rules, and you can’t go far wrong. Colourful plates look better on instagram anyway.