After setting up our intake metering what goals do we have? One perfectly valid strategy is to not set goals at all, just go where the body takes us and record it. Another is again to not set limits but use nutrition software (like the freeware Chronometer) to bring any deficient nutrients to RDA level by adding or swapping foods. If there is a goal it’s health rather than any weight loss directly.
An effective alternative to quantity restriction is time restriction, that is to limit the hours of eating from say, 8am to 6pm or even 9 to 3. Intake may be reduced as a side effect as the body learns the new routine and hunger diminishes outside the eating “window”. As an additional benefit an extended period of time away from food every day seems to be particularly good for the brain and may even entrain a healthy circadian rhythm for better sleep.
If you’re ready for it you may begin to restrict calories a little but with the knowledge that the body’s feedback mechanisms make retracing your steps back to higher calories difficult. Any changes made should be small but permanent. Never consume below RDA levels of vitamins, minerals or protein and maintain muscle with some form of all-round resistance exercise.
The following progressive steps may be helpful. Think of them as the layers of a pyramid each forming the base for the next. Stop as long as you like, perhaps forever, at any one of them.
- Slow down and bring increasing awareness to the eating process. This is the most important step. Don’t talk, read or worse watch TV but instead tune in to the total mechanism of eating. What you find may surprise you and make the subsequent steps much easier.
- Eliminate almost all processed foods and added sugar.
- Weigh all you eat at home and use nutrition software to bring nutrients to RDA levels. Perhaps eat out less often.
- Restrict eating to a 10, 8, 6 or less hour window per day.
- Restrict calories only very slightly, perhaps only 100-200 calories or even less from normal.
- Strive for consistency rather than severity, process not outcome. Control is to reduce day to day variability not sheer amount.