The idea is simple, decrease calories and burn more than you intake and the pounds will come off. But of course, simple doesn’t always equal easy.
According to Penn State College of Medicine researchers
Only about one in every six Americans who have ever been overweight or obese loses weight and maintains that loss
One big reason for the lack of success is that the more abrupt a complete overhaul of what we eat is, the less likely we are to stick with it long term. But if yo-yo dieting is not designed to be sustainable, what should you do?
If any dieting tricks make you think, “I guess I could do that for a LITTLE while” that’s a sign that long-term success will be highly unlikely.
In short, eating nothing but salads for a month isn’t going to lead to life-long results.
Try these small and reasonable changes in everyday decisions. Over time they can make a difference and set us up for long-term success.
1. Drink Water
Do you find yourself craving a little something extra after a meal, even when you’re full? Try drinking some water.
A stomach is like a baby, it makes noises and kicks around to let us know it’s unhappy, but it’s up to us to figure out why it’s making a fuss.
Hungry and thirsty are similar signals and can be easily confused.
This often leads to us eating a scoop of ice cream when our body is really asking for hydration. If you feel a twinge of hunger shortly after a meal, try drinking a glass of water instead of rummaging through the fridge.
Even better: Replacing sugary drinks like soda, juice, and sweet tea with water during at meals will help with digestion, reduce calories, and help you enjoy the flavors of your food more.
2. Cut out bedtime snacks
When we are tired, we are more likely to indulge in unhealthy or mindless snacking. In this situation, leftover pizza is infinitely more appealing than a handful of baby carrots.
It’s easy to fall into a habit of wandering to the kitchen to rummage through the fridge at night.
Have a substantial dinner and then stop eating at least 2-3 hours before you hit the hay. That way you won’t go to bed hungry and you won’t fall victim to the late night munchies.
Even better: Need another reason to cut out the night time noshes? Snacks, in general, give you a boost of energy, which means your sleep quality could be compromised by those late night treats.
3. Put it away
No matter your intentions, if you leave a 6 pack of cupcakes on the counter, it’s going to make them harder to resist.
Leaving unhealthy snacks out in the open means your having to fight a mini battle every time you come in the kitchen.
Put unhealthy treats out of sight and keep the oranges and apples in plain view. It will make it easier to have the healthy stuff as your go-to and save the other snacks as a treat.
Even better: Don’t just put treats out of sight, put them on a high shelf or in the back of the pantry. Anywhere you won’t catch an accidental glimpse is ideal.
4. Cook more
As a general rule, anything you eat out at a restaurant, you can make healthier at home, and for a lot less money too.
Short on time? Try making a big meal so you have leftovers to last a few days.
For some people, this might not be the easiest or most enjoyable thing on the list, but it makes a big difference and can be a lot of fun once your creative side starts to kick in.
Gotten burned by having to throw away a cooking blunder in the past?
Try These Un-Mess-Up-Able Meals
5. Rethink your route through the grocery store
Grocery stores are designed with the healthy stuff on the perimeter and the tempting treats in the middle. Going in with a plan makes it a heck of a lot easier to avoid filling the cart with the processed foods leaving little space, time, or budget for anything else.
Hit the perimeters first and load up on meat, dairy, fruits, and veggies that are easy to prepare and that you know you like.
Leave the middle aisles for last grabbing only what you need and a select few treats you just can’t do without.
6. Commit to making one meal healthier
Getting all ramped up for a complete overhaul of your eating habits can be exciting, but is usually short-lived.
Instead of going all in on everything, decide what meal you want to work on and commit to making it a little bit healthier.
If you’re one of those people who have about 18 seconds to grab whatever you can reach on the way out the door in the morning, or you find yourself stopping for a muffin on the way to work, breakfast is a great place to start.
Think about what changes you want to make and implement the easiest first so you don’t have to stress about everything all at once.
7. Pay attention to sugar
Sugar, it’s almost impossible to avoid and to resist. We would be batty to tell you to get rid of it. So, how about just start paying attention to it?
Read labels to see the sugar content and make a mental estimate of how many sweets you’ve had for the day.
Once you are more mindful of how much sugar you’re having and what foods are unexpected sources, you’ll be in a better position to find areas where you can cut back on your sugar intake.
8. Don’t let work breaks revolve around snacks
A lot of us are fairly sedentary at work.
When break time rolls around, the vending machine is often the first stop because we are bored or stressed, but not necessarily hungry.
Make it a point to get some movement on your breaks, call a loved one, or stretch. Then if you’re actually hungry after that, grab a snack.
9. Eat more fat
Just about every food is available in a low-fat version. But, cutting out fat in an effort to lose weight can leave you grouchy, hungry, and none-the-slimmer.
Your body needs fat to function and feel satiated.
Focus on including plenty of healthy fat in every meal such as
- Olive oil
Even better: Eating fat provides sustained energy and helps the body absorb vitamins.
10. Spice it up
Food that is loaded with flavor will be more satisfying than bland foods so eat something with some flavor!
Spicy foods can decrease your appetite and increase the body temperature which means more calories burned.
Eating spicy foods won’t make or break your weight loss plan, but it can help keep you on track.
If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, try adding some more mild herbs and spices to your food.
Experiment with dried and fresh herbs to find what you like best.
Making small commitments you can stick to leads to long-term success. Set realistic goals for yourself based on behaviors rather than pounds and you will have sustainable success in your quest for a healthier body and mind one day at a time.