If you’ve been struggling with being 10, 20, 30 or more pounds overweight for years, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of losing weight, only to gain it all back and then some.
The truth is, diets just don’t work. Even Weight Watchers, one of the most well-known diet programs, acknowledges this. The problem is that restricting calories repeatedly can actually alter your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight in the future. Despite this, many Americans continue to go on diets in search of a quick fix for their weight problems.
However, there are steps you can take to lose weight safely and for good, while also improving your overall health.
While the advice to “eat less, move more” is a good start, what you eat is also important. In fact, consuming too many refined carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, is a major contributor to obesity.
This is often the result of food manufacturers marketing “no-fat” and “low-fat” options, which are typically packed with added sugars.
To help you lose weight and improve your health, here are ten healthy eating habits to consider, although this list is by no means exhaustive.
1. Eat a healthy breakfast every morning.
Eating breakfast revs up your metabolism. If you skip breakfast you’re likely to eat more calories by binging later in the day.
In a study of people who lost weight and kept it off for more than five years, one major thing they all did was eat breakfast.
But Pop-tarts, donuts and Hot Pockets don’t cut it. Cooked oatmeal, whole grain cereals, whole grain breads, eggs and tofu with a salad are all healthy choices.
2. Stop counting calories and eat foods that nourish your body.
A meal of fat-free, sugar-free, refined processed foods is also nutrient-free.
Plus, it won’t satisfy you for long compared to a meal of nutrient-dense whole foods like vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fat.
As you begin eating more nutritious foods and get a little more physical activity (if you aren’t physically active now), your body will come to its natural healthy weight.
3. Always have some veggies and fruit washed and cut in your fridge.
This way they’re easy to grab when you’re hungry (instead of reaching for that giant-size bag of potato chips) and you can throw them in your bag when you’re on the go.
4. Replace diet soda with unsweetened beverages.
Diet drinks keep your sweet tooth craving sweets. Plus, they make you feel virtuous. Many people who drink diet drinks actually reward themselves with extra calories through the day.
Instead, drink iced teas or plain or carbonated water with a slice of lemon or lime.
5. Use the “Plate Method” to make a healthy meal.
Fill half your plate with low or non-starchy veggies like broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, string beans, mushrooms, peppers, or leafy greens and some fruit.
Fill one quarter, with a whole grain like brown rice, barley, bulgur, or quinoa, or a starchy vegetable like corn or potatoes, or beans.
For the last quarter, fill it with protein like broiled, sauteed, roasted, or baked (not fried) fish, chicken or turkey without the skin, lean cuts of meat, tofu or eggs.
6. Cut down on carbs.
Refined carbohydrates (cake, candy, cookies, muffins, scones, cupcakes, soda, fruit juice, syrups, chips, and most supermarket breads) you don’t burn turn into fat.
Even foods like fruit yogurt and many breakfast cereals have lots of added sugar.
Replace fruity yogurts with Greek plain yogurt, choose high-fiber, lower carb cereal and add small amounts of healthy fat to your meals with avocado slices, unsalted nuts, seeds and olive oil.
7. Shrink your lunch and dinner plates.
If you and your family eat off a plate larger than ten inches, replace them with plates that are nine or ten inches in diameter.
We tend to eat what’s in front of us. Using smaller plates there’s less food in front of you to eat.
8. Enjoy less healthy foods now and then, in small portions, unless there’s a medical reason not to do so.
Not letting yourself eat something you love may make you feel deprived and frustrated and subvert your efforts to eat well.
9. When eating out ask your server to double the green veggies in place of the potato or rice.
I always do this and benefit from more nutrition and less carbs. Also, share food at the table. My partner and I always share an appetizer and when with a group, if someone orders dessert, it comes with a spoon for everyone.
10. Keep tempting foods out of the house.
Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods and you’re creating an environment that will help make you successful. Enjoy treats occasionally when you’re out.