In our eat-and-run, massive-portion-sized culture, maintaining a proper weight can be tough--and losing weight, even difficult. If you've tried and failed to lose weight before, you may believe that diet programs don't work for you.
The key to successful, healthy weight loss
Your weight is a balancing act, but the equation is simple: If you eat more calories than you burn then you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories then you burn, you lose weight.
Not all body fat is the same
Where you carry your fat matters.
The wellness hazards are greater if you usually bring your weight around your stomach, as opposed to your hips and thighs. A lot of belly fat is stored deep below the skin surrounding the abdominal organs and liver, and is closely linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Beware of "Sugar Belly"
Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy, and granola bars) are more likely to add to this dangerous fat around your tummy. Reducing back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline and reduced risk of disease.
Getting started with healthy weight loss
While there is no "one size fits all" solution to permanent healthy weight loss, the following guidelines are an excellent spot to start:
Think lifestyle change, not a short-term diet strategy. Permanent weight loss is not something that a "quick-fix" diet can accomplish. Instead, think about weight loss as a lasting lifestyle change--a commitment to your wellness for life. Various popular diets can help to quickly boost your weight loss, but permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices are what will work in the long run.
Set objectives to keep you inspired.
Short-term objectives, like seeking to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually don't work as well as goals like wanting to feel more confident or become healthier for your kid's sake. When frustration and enticement strike, concentrate on the many benefits you will reap from being healthier and leaner.
Use tools that help you monitor your progress.
Keep a food journal and weigh yourself regularly, tracking of each pound you lose and inch of your waist lost. By keeping track of your weight loss efforts, you'll see the outcomes in grayscale, which will help you stay motivated.
Reducing calorie intake encourages weight loss--the type of diet strategy isn't important.
A significant study concluded that it doesn't matter which diet program you select, provided that it is one that reduces your calorie intake and is healthy for your heart (low in saturated fat and cholesterol).
Healthy dieting and weight loss tip #1: Prevent typical pitfalls
Diets, especially fad diets or "quick-fix" pills and programs, often set you up for failure because:
You feel deprived. Diets that cut out whole groups of food, such as carbs or fat, are basically incorrect, not to mention harmful. The key is moderation. Eliminating whole types don't allow for a proper, well-rounded diet and creates nutritional instability.
You lose weight, but can't keep it off.
Diets that seriously cut calories, restrict certain foods, or rely on ready-made foods might work in the short term. However, once you meet your target weight loss, you don't have a strategy for maintaining your weight and the pounds quickly come back.
After your diet, you seem to put on weight more quickly. When you significantly limit your food intake, your metabolism will temporarily slow down. Once you start consuming normally, you'll gain weight until your metabolic rate bounces back--another reason why hunger or "fasting" diets are counterproductive.
You crack your diet strategy and feel too discouraged to try again. Just because you gave in to temptation doesn't mean all your hard work goes down the drain. Healthy eating is about the big picture. An occasional splurge won't kill your efforts. Diets that are too limited are conducive to cheating--when you feel deprived, it's easy to fall off the wagon.
You feel isolated and unable to have fun with circumstances revolving around food. Without some practical, proper diet strategies, you may feel lost when dining out or attending events like cocktail parties or weddings. If the food served isn't on your specific diet plan, what can you do?
Healthy dieting and weight loss tip #2: Put a stop to psychological eating
We don't always eat simply to satisfy craving for food. If we did, no one would be overweight. All too often, we convert to food for comfort and stress relief. When this happens, we frequently pack on weight.
Don't ignore the importance of putting a quit to unnecessary eating. Learning to recognize the psychological activities that causes you to overindulge and respond with healthier choices can make all the difference in your weight loss efforts.
Once you've identified your unnecessary eating tendencies, you can work towards gradually changing the routine and mental behavior that has sabotaged your dieting initiatives in the past.
Strategies to fight emotional eating
If you convert to food at the end of a long day, find other relaxing ways to compensate yourself and de-stress. Relax with a book and a steaming cup of herbal tea, soak in a hot bath, or savor a beautiful view.
If you eat when you're feeling low on energy, find another mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. Try walking around the block, listening to invigorating music, or doing some quick stretches or jumping jacks. Another alternative is taking a brief nap--just keep it to 30 minutes or less.
If you eat when you're lonely or bored, reach out to others instead of reaching for the refrigerator. Call a friend who makes you laugh, take your dog for a walk, find a fun activity to do, or go out in public (to the library, the mall, or the grocery store --anywhere there's people). If you eat when you're pressured, discover healthier methods to calm yourself. Try to work out, yoga, Meditation, or breathing exercises. Better manage stressful circumstances by either changing the situation or modifying your reaction.
Healthy dieting and weight loss tip #3: Tune in when you eat
We live in a fast-paced world where eating has become mindless. We eat on the run, at our desk while we're working, and in front of the TV screen. The result is that we consume much more than we need, often without realizing it or truly enjoying what we're eating.
Counter this tendency by practicing "mindful" eating: pay interest to what you eat, get pleasure from each bite, and select foods that are both nourishing and enjoyable. Cautious eating will help you lose weight and maintain your results.
Mindful eating weight loss tips
Pay attention while you're eating. Be aware of your environment. Eat slowly, savoring the smells and textures of your food. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention to your food and how it tastes and feels in your mouth.
Avoid distractions while eating. Try not to eat while working, watching TV, reading, using a computer, or driving. It's too easy to mindlessly overindulge.
Chew your food thoroughly. Try chewing each bite 30 times before ingesting. You'll prolong the experience and give yourself more time to enjoy each bite.
Try mixing things up to force yourself to pay attention to the experience of eating. Try using chopsticks rather than a hand, or use your utensils with your non-dominant hand.
Stop eating before you are full. It takes time for the signal to reach your brain that you've had enough. Avoid the temptation to clean your plate. Yes, there are children starving in Africa, but your weight gain won't help them.
Healthy dieting and weight loss tip #4: Fill up with fruit, veggies, and fiber
To lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories. But that doesn't necessarily mean you have to eat less food. You can fill up while on a diet strategy plan, as long as you choose your food smartly. The key is to add the types of food that can keep you feeling pleased and full, without packing on the pounds.
Fiber: the KEY to feeling satisfied while losing weight
If you want to lose weight without feeling hungry and limited all the time, begin eating foods high in fiber. High-fiber foods are higher in volume, which makes them filling. They also take more time to chew, which makes them more satisfying to eat. High-fiber foods also take a quite to process, which means you'll feel full longer. There's nothing magic about it, but the weight-loss results may seem like it.
High-fiber heavyweights include:
Fruits and vegetables - Appreciate whole fruits across the rainbow (strawberries, apples, oranges, berries, nectarines, plums), leafy salads, and green veggies of all kinds.
Beans - Select legumes of any kind (black beans, lentils, split peas, pinto beans, chickpeas). Add them to soups, salads, and entrees, or enjoy them as a satisfying dish of their own.
Whole grains - Try high-fiber cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat or multigrain bread, bran muffins, or air-popped popcorn.
Focus on fruits and veggies
high water and fiber content in most fruits and vegetables makes them hard to overeat. You'll feel full long before you've overdone it on the calories.
Swap out some of the meat and cheese in your sandwich with healthier veggie choices such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, and avocado.
Instead of a high-calorie snack, such as chips and dip, try baby carrots with hummus, a sliced apple, or the old-favorite: celery with peanut butter (just don't overdo it on the peanut butter). Add more veggies to your favorite main courses to make your dish "go" further. Even dishes such as pasta and stir-fries can be diet-friendly if they're less heavy on the noodles and more focused on vegetables.
Try starting your meal with a low-density salad or soup (just watch the dressings and sodium) to help fill you up, so you eat less of your entrÃ©e.
Don't like vegetables? You're probably not preparing them right. Veggies can be delicious and full of flavor when you dress them with herbs and spices or a little olive oil or cheese.
Fruits and vegetables to eat in moderation
Fruits and vegetables of all colors, shapes, and sizes are major players in a healthy diet, but you still need to watch out for the following potential diet strategy busters.
Veggies that have been breaded or fried or doused in heavy sauces are no longer low-calorie, so tread with caution. Opt for healthier cooking methods, such as steaming, and use low-fat dressings and spices for flavor.
Salads are guilt-free--unless you drench them in high-fat dressing and toppings. By all indicators, add some nuts or cheese, but don't exaggerate it. As for dressing, a little fat is healthy (try a vinaigrette made with olive oil), but again, moderation is key.
Dried Fruit. Be aware when it comes to dried fruit, which is high in calories and, often, in added sugar. You can eat a whole lot more fresh fruit for the same number of calories. If you do choose to snack on dried fruit, keep your serving size small. Fruit Juice. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of juice every now and again. But remember that the calories quickly add up, without doing much to make you feel full. Also make sure that your drink of choice is made from 100% fruit juice and contains no added sugar.
Healthy dieting and weight loss tip #5: Indulge without overindulging
If you've ever found yourself polishing off a pint of ice cream or stuffing yourself with cookies or chips after spending a whole day virtuously eating salads, you know how restrictive diet plans usually end. You probably blame yourself, but the problem isn't your willpower--it's your weight loss strategy. Deprivation diets set you up for failure: you starve yourself until you snap, and then you overdo it, cancelling out all your previous efforts.
In order to successfully lose weight and keep it off, you need to learn how to enjoy the foods you love without going overboard. A diet that places all your favorite foods off limits won't work in the long run. Eventually, you'll feel deprived and will cave. And when you do, you probably won't stop at a sensible-sized portion.
Try not to think of certain foods as "off limits."
When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. Instead of denying yourself the unhealthy foods you love, simply eat them less often.
Tips for enjoying treats without overeating
Combine your treat with other healthy foods. You can still enjoy your favorite high-calorie treat, whether it's ice cream, chips, cake, or chocolate. The key is to eat a smaller serving of it along with a lower-calorie option. For example, add strawberries to your ice cream or munch on carrot and celery sticks along with your chips and dip. By piling on the low-cal option, you can eat a diet- A friendly portion of your favorite treat without feeling deprived.
Schedule your treats. We are creatures are a habit, and you can use this to your advantage when trying to lose weight. Establish regular times when you get to indulge in your favorite food. For example, maybe you enjoy a small square of chocolate every day after lunch, or a slice of cheesecake every Friday evening. Once you're conditioned to eat your treat at those times--and those times only--you'll stop obsessing about them at other times.
Make your indulgence less indulgent. Find ways to reduce fat, sugar, or calories in your favorite treats and snacks. If you do your own baking, swap out half the butter or oil in the recipe with applesauce, and cut back on the sugar, making up for it with extra cinnamon or vanilla extract. You can also eliminate or reduce high-calorie toppings and sides, like whipped cream, cheese, dip, and frosting.
Engage all your senses--not just your taste sense. Instead of chowing down mindlessly, savor and prolong the experience. You can make snack time more special by setting an attractive table, lighting candles, playing soothing music, or enjoying your treat outdoors in a beautiful setting. Get the most pleasure--and the most relaxation--out of your throat by cutting it into small pieces, taking time to smell what you are eating, and by chewing slowly and thoroughly.