10 must-do’s for reaching a healthy body weight
Reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is possible, but it takes knowledge on how to do so. Step one – you do not have to go on a diet, drastically reducing calories or cutting out entire food groups, in order to be at a body weight considered healthy for you. Steer clear of fad diets that are unsustainable long-term and instead, simply follow how humans are meant to eat.
Whenever you make changes, especially dietary changes, the best steps leading you to a healthy body weight are small, gradual and realistic building upon one another. This is the path for creating a healthier and happier future. There are 10 must-do’s of reaching a healthy body weight, putting you in control of the weight you’re destined to be. When you follow these basics, reaching and ultimately staying at a healthy body weight, is your ticket to better overall health for life.
1. Think “wellness” and not “diet
Instead of trying to starve yourself, choose foods that allow you to fill up on fewer calories. These are foods that are:
· Minimally processed
· High in fiber
· Low in fat and sugar
Examples include fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as barley, oatmeal, whole-wheat products, brown rice, and legumes. For protein, choose lean choices such as poultry (without skin), lean beef and pork, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, and seafood. Prepare these items with little added fat (no frying).
2. Exercise consistently and make it fun
While your food choices are the main driver in reaching a healthy body weight, regular exercise done consistently is key for maintaining it. People who are the most successful at reaching healthy body weight and then keeping the weight off, is to make exercise a priority throughout your life. Keep in mind, to keep you motivated to move, make physical activity fun and enjoyable. Otherwise, you will likely get bored with it as it becomes less of a priority.
The human body is meant to move. Consider forms of movement, also known as aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, bike riding, swimming, running, hiking, playing tennis or racquetball.
3. Refrain from eating for boredom
Are you eating food to help you relax, to cure boredom, or as a way to deal with a bad day? If you find yourself wandering into the kitchen searching for food other than reasons of true hunger, stop. Take a 10-minute break to find something else to do to take your mind off of eating when not really hungry or because it’s a mealtime. Instead, take a walk, call a friend, or anything else that distracts you from this habit.
4. When eating out, do so wisely
Try to eat at least 90% of your meals at home. But when you do eat out, make wise choices. Choose soup and salad as your main entrée or choose smaller side dishes of vegetables. Ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side. Choose meats that are either grilled, baked, or broiled. Avoid fried foods. If portions sizes are large, split the meal or take half home.
5. Be a savvy food shopper
Fill your grocery cart 2/3 full of whole foods instead of processed convenience foods. Make smart choices by buying fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, poultry, fish, and lean meat, nuts and seeds. Aim for at least 5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables each day.
6. Be a smart snacker
Snacks are a good thing but again, do so wisely. First, snack only when hungry, at least 2 hours after a meal. Healthy snack options include:
· Apple slices with peanut butter
· Nuts and grapes
· Mozzarella cheese stick with crackers
· Hummus with cut-up veggies
· Plain Greek yogurt with frozen fruit
· Dried fruit and nuts
7. Try out healthy recipes
Be adventurous and expand your range of healthful food choices. Search the internet or buy a cookbook based on healthy recipes to help introduce you to healthful dishes.
8. Use less fat in cooking
Prepare foods using lower fat cooking methods such as baking meats on a rack, broiling, grilling, roasting or steaming instead of frying. Eliminate extra fats. Trim visible fats from meats. Avoid frying and roast instead. Use healthy fats in cooking such as extra virgin olive oil or canola oils. Add or use minimal butter or margarine on foods. Rely more on herbs and spices to season foods which provide zero fat.
9. Limit sugar and refined foods
Limit the amount of foods you eat with added sugar. Choose foods with no more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. If sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients on the nutritional facts label, it likely is high in sugar. Remember, “sugar” also includes honey, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, fructose, maltose, and glucose. Also limit refined foods with little nutritional value such as crackers (unless whole wheat), pretzels, cookies, cake, pie, donuts, and pastries
10. Always eat breakfast
Starting the day with a high-fiber, protein-rich and a healthy fat breakfast will help you consume fewer calories the rest of the day. Breakfast does not have to be a big meal, but do try to consume this meal within an hour after waking up. Good ideas for a healthy breakfast include the following:
· Scrambled eggs with oatmeal topped with blueberries
· Whole-grain cereal (at least 5 grams of fiber per serving) topped with fresh fruit and low-fat milk
· Toast spread with mashed avocado, topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and a slice of tomato
· Breakfast parfait layered with Greek yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, sliced almonds and granola
· Breakfast burrito – whole grain tortilla, scrambled eggs cooked with peppers, mushrooms, and onions, black beans and salsa