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Drop the Weight with EJ: Do You Have to Eat Special Diet Food to Lose Weight?



dreamstime_l_43293345This is one of the most popular questions that I’ve received since I started coaching. The quick answer to this question is NO. But it’s more nuanced than that.

You’ll lose weight when you eat less food than your body burns for energy. And if you’re stuck at a higher weight than you’ll like, this can mean eating less than you do now. While eating less is important, it can be about changing your eating pattern i.e. what you eat.

As much as we like to think that we eat a very varied diet, there are some foods that show up in our eating pattern all the time. So figuring out what that eating pattern is and what foods are causing you to gain weight will make a huge difference.

Let me give you an example. On my first weight loss journey over 10 years ago, I was convinced that regular exercise was all I needed to lose weight and I was dedicated to the cause. But along with my exercise habit I picked up the habit of drinking a can of Vanilla Coke and a Honey Bun (a packaged fried donut that was 500+ calories) to reward myself for a job well done. Now some of you already see how my reward was sabotaging my hard work. I would burn 300 calories or more and then eat an additional 650+ calories. When I saw that I was gaining weight instead of losing I looked at my eating pattern and things started to change for the better once I cut out my post-workout reward.

So now that you get the general idea of what an eating pattern is, the next question I’ll answer is “what should a weight loss eating pattern look like?”

The recommendations that I’m going to give next should be a good start to cleaning up your eating pattern to start losing weight.

Your Weight Loss Eating Pattern Should Be High in Fiber
We eat for many reasons, but the main reason is hunger right? And fiber is your best friend when it comes to keeping hunger at bay. Your body cannot digest fiber because it’s so difficult to break down. This means that the fiber in your meals just add bulk and takes up space in your stomach.

You want it to take space because the more space that’s taken up, the less hungry you’ll feel. Foods that contain high levels of fibers include fruits and vegetables(both starchy and non-starchy vegetables), whole grain foods, and plant protein sources like beans and lentils.

Your Weight Loss Eating Pattern Should Be High in Protein
After fiber, protein is the next thing that you need to eat at every meal to keep hunger at bay. I’ll be the first one to acknowledge that high protein foods can be expensive. So while it’s ideal to eat protein at every meal and snack, I amend this eating pattern recommendation to every main meal in the interest of saving our wallets some tears. This means that breakfast, lunch, and dinner should have high sources of animal or plant protein. As far as your snacks are made up of unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables, you’ll be fine.

Your choices of protein don’t have to be the typical and expensive meat sources. Plant protein, while lower in protein per gram per serving, is still just as good and is high in fiber! So stock up on beans and lentils to help keep your stomach and your wallet full. But still sprinkle in the higher protein foods like meat and eggs.

Your Weight Loss Eating Pattern Should Include Moderate Amounts of Healthy Fat
You probably find it ironic that you need to eat fat to lose fat, but it is actually a requirement. Removing all fat from your diet will leave you feeling hungry and dissatisfied because fat plays a role in the synthesis of our hunger hormones. And when your fat intake is too low, it can send your hormonal system out of wack.

This doesn’t mean you should eat fat without discrimination. Eating animal sources of protein like meat and eggs will add some fat in your diet. And using healthy fats to cook in moderation will also set you up for success. Examples of healthy fats include olive oil, canola oil, palm oil (its health benefits outweigh the potential harm done by its saturated fat content), and coconut oil (same note as palm oil).

Your Weight Loss Eating Pattern Should Include the Right Carbs
Carbs have become the enemy in our modern day battle of the bulge, but the problem isn’t with the carbs themselves but the types of carbs we eat and how much of it we eat. The right carbs, as I call them,  are the carbohydrates contained naturally in fruits and non-starchy vegetables and the unprocessed carbohydrates in starchy vegetables and whole grains.These food still need to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. But before you choose to cut out your carbs altogether, make sure you’ve at least tried eating mostly whole grain carbs first.

Take Action
Now that you’ve learned that there isn’t any magic diet food, I want you to take the time today to list out the types of food that make a regular appearance in your eating pattern.

Once you’ve made that list, your next step is to choose a single action to start making your eating pattern more weight-loss friendly using the information you’ve just learned.

If you’re not sure what your action can look like, then check out the my free Quick Guide “Start Losing Weight Today” to get you started.

Next time I’ll be shifting gears to cater to the New Mamas in the house and I’ll be talking about losing weight while breastfeeding.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

EJ (Ejiro) is a writer/engineer/mom. She writes about healthy living to help busy professional women lose weight, keep it off—and actually feel amazing. She created a Registered Trademarked System (VAFs®) for healthy eating for weight loss and wrote the book Weight Loss for High Achievers to help busy women lose weight and let go of the idea that the only way to succeed is to diet for the rest of their lives. With EJ's methods, dieting isn't required and neither is spending hours in the gym for meager results. P.S. If you want to get the goal-crushing motivation to reach your weight loss goal, then you'll want to get the first chapter of EJ's book for FREE. Click here to get it now.


  1. Tobigirl

    March 16, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks. I read your emails regularly and I am trying to get all that info into action. Great tips, cheers

    • EJ Ogenyi

      March 18, 2016 at 3:51 am

      Hey Tobigirl!!! My [TEAM} is in the house. I’m glad to hear that you’re trying to take action. So proud of you!!!


  2. noms

    March 16, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Why do people never talk about gaining weight. I am too skinny I weigh 54kg and I am 5feet 6 inches tall. I eat anything and everything and still I haven’t gained.

    • Adenike

      March 16, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      Noms, I would have said that you should enjoy your body, cos it’s like the “dream” body. However, since you don’t like it, keep eating more food, but concentrate on eating healthy foods. So instead of eating less to lose weight, you eat more. Cos big or slim, being healthy is key. And if you don’t gain weight please accept it as part of your genetic formation.

    • ezigbo

      March 16, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      My dear, you’re not too skinny for your height really. Your BMI is a little over 19 which is within normal range, so I think you’re just slim enough to have enough room to gain weight if need be. Also I have no idea how old you are, But I would say I am your height and battling to maintain a weight of 65kg. Please don’t aim to gain ooo- to lose am no be small matter.

    • EJ Ogenyi

      March 18, 2016 at 3:59 am

      Hello Noms,

      I’m sorry you don’t feel taken care of, but I’ll be honest when I say that most of the women who struggle with weight struggle to lose it and not gain it. The healthy eating advice I give still applies to gaining weight, you’ll just need to do it in larger portions. Balance this out with exercise so you gain muscle, and not fat. This should keep you relatively healthy.

      If you want more tailored advice, you know how to reach me from my bio.

      Have a great day


  3. lolipop

    March 16, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    thank you EJ….really helpful…goodstuff

    • EJ Ogenyi

      March 18, 2016 at 3:53 am

      You’re welcome lolipop. Love the handle

  4. Spunky

    March 16, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    One minute I’m happy I don’t have weight (as in I weigh basically the same if compared to forever ago). Ok, just kidding! I really need some extra meat. I consider myself really skinny for a guy. Tips anyone?

    • memebaby

      March 17, 2016 at 1:25 am

      lots of protein and wight lifting maybe

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