8 Proven strategies to healthy weight loss
The search for permanent weight loss can be frustrating and challenging. Hundreds of fad diets with restrictive, complex rules, weight-loss programs and outright scams promise quick and easy weight loss. Most if not all, will have little to no scientific evidence to back up their claims. Their usual premise is to eliminate one or more food groups. That alone will automatically reduce your calorie intake resulting in some weight loss. The problem is, fad diet rules are tough to maintain long term, so when you quit the diet, any weight you lost is likely regained.
A better way to reach your healthy weight is to use steps successful weight losers and maintainers use. The foundation of successful weight loss remains a healthy, calorie-controlled diet combined with increased physical activity. For successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle and health habits. Follow weight loss solutions that work without eliminating foods and instead use behavior and lifestyle techniques to wellness and a healthy body weight.
How do you make those permanent changes? Consider following these 8 strategies for weight-loss success. Choose one or two of the following solutions each week incorporating them into your daily schedule:
1. Begin with a healthy diet
There can be many definitions of what constitutes a healthy diet but the best one to follow is the one emphasizing foods found naturally with minimal processing. This means fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds. Foods to reduce are sugary beverages along with foods high in sugar, sodium, and saturated and trans fats. Every day, aim for between 20 to 35 grams of fiber, which fills you up and will slow down absorption of carbohydrates. Also aim for between 25-30 grams of protein at each meal.
2. Keep portion sizes small
Portion control is a key solution in losing weight. The bigger portions we eat, the more calories we consume. Be sure to take note of the serving size on all packaged foods eaten. It’s important to measure out the amount with measuring cups to get a visual idea of what that amount looks like. Otherwise, it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of food we eat.
3. Make mindful eating a must
Mindful eating is the practice of being fully present and aware of the moment you are experiencing. Such as right now – take a moment to look away and become totally in tune with whatever is going on around you. If you are indoors, it might be noticing a wall clock faithfully ticking you hadn’t paid attention to before. Or if you are sitting outdoors, hearing the variety of birds singing or how the wind sounds as it rustles tree leaves.
With eating, it involves concentrating on the process of this act and learning to really enjoy the sensation, texture, mouthfeel, taste and aroma of food. It also includes becoming aware of our body’s hunger and satiety cues. Mindful eating guides us to eat with joy and anticipation while nourishing our bodies telling us when and what to eat in order to feel our best. Research has shown that mindful eating helps with weight management and the development of healthy maintainable eating habits.
4. Eat slowly, chew well
One component of mindful eating is to slow down. This can be a difficult practice to master but is necessary to allow time for satiety signals to reach the brain. Practice this by placing your utensil down on your plate between bites to slow down your pace. Mindful eating is an experience, not a race. Just making this one simple step a habit can prevent overeating.
Another aspect of mindful eating is to check on your hunger/fullness during the meal. Several times throughout the meal, ask yourself how hungry are you on a scale of one to ten? Gauging your hunger level is a little like taking your temperature. About halfway through your meal, ask yourself, “Am I still physically hungry or am I beginning to get full?” The goal is to eat until you are satisfied, leaving yourself neither stuffed nor starving.
5. Identify emotional triggers making you overeat
Feelings of loneliness, boredom, frustration, anger, stress, depression or even happiness and joy can cause you to seek out food for comfort. Food can be a soothing antidote when emotions are running high. But if strong emotions are causing you to consume more calories resulting in weight gain, it’s time to put a handle on it. When finding yourself eating for reasons other than hunger, find pleasurable non-food related activities to do. Everyone will have their own unique go-to ideas but a few to consider could be going on a brisk walk, working on a hobby, or reading a book.
6. Eat regular meals and choose healthy snacks
It goes without saying, as humans, we need to be eating regular meals each day. If you go longer than 5-6 hours without food, this sets you up for most likely overeating later - and often on high-calorie snacks. Find a meal-timing pattern that works for you allowing between 4-5 hours between meals. For a snack, choose foods less than 200 calories such as a small container of low-fat yogurt, a handful of berries with a ¼ cup of nuts, two tablespoons of hummus with baby carrots, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with apple slices.
7. Avoid drinking your calories
Each time you sip on a calorie-laden beverage, it all adds up. The problem with drinking your calories is beverages are not as satiating as solid foods and most people do not compensate for liquid calories by eating less food. It’s okay to drink milk but otherwise stick with water or other noncaloric beverages like tea and coffee.
8. Eat the majority of your meals at home
Even though eating out is always fun – no food to prepare or dishes to clean up – you’re also at the mercy of what the restaurant is serving. In other words, you are not the cook. And there is no doubt restaurant meals are usually loaded with too many calories, salt, fat, and sugar, which leaves you flapping like a fish out of water feeling out of control.
Home-cooked meals are the way to go. You are in control deciding what you will serve, what ingredients you’ll use and how much food you end up putting on your plate. Planning ahead is a must in order to make eating at home more likely to happen. Carve out some time each week (or day) to devote to meal planning and shopping. To save time in the kitchen, take advantage of precut veggies and fruits, and stock up on easy, wholesome snacks like nuts and low-fat cheese sticks.