Even if you spent the run-up to the summer focused on your personal 'operation bikini', the chances are you've returned to the fray only to find you've brought back a few extra kilos along with the holiday souvenirs.
And, what with the return to work and routine, long hours spend in front of a computer screen, getting the kids back at school etc., life's bad enough as it is at this time of year, without having to find the extra energy to tackle a diet and weight loss programme.
Based on advice from Dr. Pierre Dukan, author of the famous Dukan diet, we've put together a list of ten keys that will make getting back to a healthy diet simple and rewarding – and best of all, won't leave you feeling hungry.
Read on to find out more...
1. Be optimistic.
Right now it looks like losing weight will be up-hill work. But remember how much easier it was to diet when you had the incentive of the holidays ahead of you? If you managed it then, you can do it again now. The key is to adapt a healthy eating pattern to your routine, and not let your whole life be ruled by dieting.
2. Don't put the blame on others.
Don't blame your bathroom scales just because the counter keeps rising when you think it shouldn't. The time has come to take stock and to trust yourself: promise yourself you'll be constant in your efforts – and have faith in that promise.
3. Set realistic goals.
Sometimes we think that we need to be really thin, but in reality ideal weight isn't about a minimum number of kilos, it's about reaching a weight that makes you feel good and that's easy to maintain in accordance with your personal lifestyle.
4. Focus on foods that satisfy.
Certain foods can help you feel fuller for longer, so make sure you include them in your diet: hard-boiled egg, oat bran, curd and cottage cheese, prawns, crab sticks, tuna, sardines, vegetable soups...
5. Spice it up!
When it comes to condiments, just about anything goes except for sweet mustard and ketchup (unless you choose a sugar-free variety). Herbs, all kinds of spices, Dijon mustard, vinegar (sherry, balsamic, herb, etc.) savoury soy sauce, pickles, garlic, onion... There are hundreds of ways to create dressings and sauces for your meals that are as healthy as they are tasty.
6. When in company...
It's always more awkward if those around you love to eat, so make sure the menu includes foods you can eat without any problem: smoked salmon for starters, roast chicken or baked fish as a main course, etc. This way, you won't draw attention to yourself and you won't feel left out. And if the others want to indulge themselves, encourage them to choose dishes that you don't really like, as you'll feel less tempted to join in.
7. With a little help from your friends.
Losing weight is easier if you have the support of friends and family. In fact your whole environment can be influential in helping you reach your goals. If you feel you need more external support, you might want to enlist the help of a specialist who will advise and encourage you; one option is the Dukan online coaching.
8. When eating in restaurants.
If you are going out with friends, try and suggest a restaurant where you know you can find dishes that will suit your diet. If it's the sort of meal you share among the group, it can help if you are the one to choose the dishes. There are usually plenty of delicious options: for example, grills will usually let you order lean meat, and if you like Asian cuisine, Japanese restaurants are also a good choice as sashimi and the different types of kushiyaki and yakitori are tasty and should leave you feeling satiated without overeating. Most restaurants offer a salad as the first course, which should take the edge off your hunger – but don't nibble on the bread while you're waiting for your order to arrive. Fresh fruit is the best choice if everyone else is having dessert, and remember that tea and coffee with sweetener can satisfy that craving for sweetness to round things off.
9. It's not all about exercise.
Exercise is key to feeling good about yourself but physical activity should be tailored to your own lifestyle. You don't necessarily have to indulge in major workouts: using the stairs instead of taking the elevator, standing on public transport rather than sitting, or walking an extra stop before you catch the bus to work are all simple ways to integrate a little exercise into your daily routine.
10. Drink water!
If possible, you should drink around 2 litres of water a day. It will help cleanse and detox your system, as well as filling you up so you don't feel the need to snack. What's more, you'll see a positive effect on your skin which should be clearer and better hydrated – and that can't be bad!