As a Nutritional Consultant for Allurion, I have dedicated much of my career to supporting patients suffering from obesity or being overweight, who often have feelings of failure after having tried one too many methods with minimal to no results. I am passionate about researching and implementing not just the latest solutions and offerings in the market but the best – when I say “best” I mean proven medical solutions such as Allurion that have helped over 50,000 successful patients. This desire to unearth result-driven solutions with long-lasting impact has been further driven by a recent study that examined the prevalence of overweight and obesity numbers amongst both Emirati (n = 1035) and expatriate (n = 405) schoolchildren in the UAE, which showed that 14.7% of students were overweight and 18.9% were obese whilst 61.3% of students had a BMI percentile that was above the 50th CDC percentile. In another study of UAE school children, the prevalence of those overweight was found to range from 11.5 to 41.2% in age groups from 15–18 years, while the prevalence of obesity was found to range between 5.2 and 19.3% in age groups from 15–18 years. These figures are a representation of teenagers being above their healthiest weight, which is known to be associated with an increased risk of health-related problems. There is also considerable evidence that being overweight at a young age makes a person much more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult.
We are in need of a solution, and one that reiterates the forecasted trends of the industry; a holistic, results-driven and personalized approach. No weight loss program is a magic bullet. An effective program is based on good healthcare and good science. And with this in mind, in 2019 I joined Allurion, a program that is just that: it is a proven program that takes a holistic approach to losing weight to ensure lasting lifestyle changes and excitingly we have just announced this July Allurion’s approval from the UAE Ministry of Health for teenagers – 16 – 65 years-olds. So, for those teenagers looking for support here are ten tips for success to kickstart your weightloss journey and maintain the results.
Don’t do it alone…
Find your support team. Success in changing habits and behaviours is a team effort – from engaging well with your clinic’s coaching and support team through to enlisting support, and to sharing your achievements with your friends and family and school. Although sometimes even our nearest and dearest can sabotage our diet and lifestyle goals without even realizing it, they can also be our most reliable support network. They will help you reach your goals if you talk to them and involve them on your journey.
Be clear with your goals
Mapping out exactly what you want to achieve and why helps you to stay focused. It might be getting into a favourite outfit, joining your school sports team or reducing the need for medications to manage conditions like type 2 diabetes. I often work with patients at Allurion who are struggling to reach their goals, and need the extra support, more often than not in regards to portion control. Unfortunately, no weight loss program is a magic bullet neither will there be a one-size-fits-all approach. That being said, a combination of good science backed with the support of healthcare professionals will get you on your way. With this in mind, share your goals with your support network and hatch a plan for how you will get there. The more detailed and specific your action plan, the more likely it is you will do it and stick with it. For most people, reaching a goal is addictive as it provides you with an immense sense of achievement.
Change your habits
Habit-forming occurs when you repeat an action consistently over time. This helps something to become automatic or second nature, meaning it doesn’t feel hard to continue it over time. The simpler an action is, the more likely it will become a habit. Examples include always having a chopped apple on top of cereal or always ordering an additional side salad when eating out so you can fill up on this and eat less of the other options. When I work with my Allurion patients, I do so on a six month dietary support plan to ensure lasting lifestyle changes alongside a body composition scale and health tracker watch linked to an app to follow progress.
Eat healthier food
You don’t need to make huge changes to eat healthier, nor do you have to change your habits all at the same time. It’s best to set small goals and change your habits a little bit at a time, for example, don’t eat in front of the TV and always try to sit at the table. Over time, small changes will make a big difference to your health and will help you maintain your weight loss.
Planning is a key part of staying on track. You can choose whether to do this each day or each week. Plan what meals you will have, what snacks and the timings and amounts – you can ask for your parent’s support (your support network). This will allow you to prepare some meals in advance to keep it easier. Make sure you have the foods or ingredients at home or you take the prepared meals to school that you’ll need for the day, making you less vulnerable to poorer choices if and when you get hungry.
Set both short-term and longer-term
For example, a short-term goal might be to swap your mid-afternoon snack for a piece of fruit each day this week, whereas your longer-term goal might be to lose 12 kilos or 26 pounds over the next 4 months. This means that when you achieve your goal, you can then set further targets, helping you to constantly progress. Think of your goals as your destination, it’s where you want to be within a set timeframe. When I set goals for my Allurion patients I am looking for them to achieve 22.8% overall weight loss through the balloon and nutritional support but I split this into two sections – 16-weeks and 6-months. There is a great sense of achievement at the end and long-term reward.
Keep track of your food choices
Keep track of your food choices, activity levels, weight and body fat on a frequent basis. This will help you to see your changes over time and understand if and where things feel harder, so you can problem-solve them with your support team. There are also several tools to help you track your progress. I recommend to my clients the Allurion connected scale to measure weight and body fat, as well as communication apps to stay in touch with your team for all the tech-savvy teenagers out there!
Track your emotions
This is important and can help you identify reasons other than hunger that lead to eating. This might be boredom, sadness or stress, especially during exams or from all the uncertainty Covid has created with at-home learning for example. Understanding your triggers can help you put plans in place for managing these emotions in a healthier way. Make a list of distraction techniques for when boredom strikes and also soothing activities that you can do when you feel a craving coming on.
Don’t forget to reward and celebrate
We all need treats and rewards, or else we end up feeling deprived and neglected, making us want to give up. Many of us use food and drink for these rewards, which can slow down our weight loss progress. Make a list of non-food rewards you can use for each victory and milestone reached. This can be as simple as a magazine you love or something more special like a holiday.
Keep it simple
The simpler the plan, the higher the likelihood of success. Nothing is written in stone. Individualize and simplify what works best for you. As I said, no weight loss program is a magic bullet, but through consistency, planning, support and simplicity, you can achieve your goals. Just take it one step at a time.
For more information, please visit https://allurion.com/en/find-clinic