Weight loss isn’t easy. If you are trying to lose weight, you’ll know that some days are better than others. Somedays you are able to follow your meal plan & not blink an eye & other days you need to lock yourself away, so as not to eat the entire contents of your fridge…
Weight loss is easier & way more sustainable if you change your habits, as apposed to just mindlessly going through the motions of following a meal plan. So, with that in mind, here are 25 things you can change so that even when you’re not on your best-diet-behavior, the ‘damage’ is minimal.
#1 Slow it down
As you eat, as your stomach stretches, signals are sent to your brain. This process takes about 20minutes so it is important to eat slowly. If you rush your meals, it’s more likely that you’ll overeat. Pacing your meals will also allow you to enjoy each bite.
#2 Sleep more… weigh less
Research has suggested that sleeping just one extra hour a night may translate into as much as a 6.5kg weight loss per year. The argument is that sleeping replaces idle activities & cuts the calories you consume by 6%. It has also been shown that less than seven hours sleep per night revs up your appetite & makes you extra hungry. Not to mention, that tired people reach for sugar-rich, high fat, energy dense foods a lot quicker than their well-rested counter parts.
#3 Up the veg
Trick yourself into eating more vegetables, by serving more vegetables. Vegetables are high in fibre, minerals & vitamins, & they have a high water content but they are low in calories so they are the perfect food to fill up on when trying to lose weight. Don’t undo the good work by adding sauces, dressings & cooking them in fat. Stick to salads, stir fries & steamed or roasted veg.
#4 ↑ Soup = ↓ kg
A broth based soup is also a low calorie way to fill yourself up. Minestrone, tortilla soup & Chinese won-ton soup are great options. Stay away from creamy, thick soups because they are usually energy dense & packed with hidden fats.
Chicken Barley & Lemon Soup (adapted from Fresh Living magazine)
Sauté one diced onion in one tablespoon (15ml) of oil until it is soft, which will take about 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup barley (220g), 8 cups (2L) of chicken stock & 2 bay leaves & simmer for 30 minutes.
Add 4 peeled & chopped carrots, 2 chopped stalks of celery & the shredded meat of 1/2 a roast chicken & cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
Season to taste & add the zest of a lemon as well as 2 tablespoons (30ml) of lemon juice. Garnish with parsley.
#5 Whole grains all the way
Whole grains contain the entire grain- the germ, bran & endosperm. Refined grains, on the other hand, are processed so only the starchy endosperm remains which, once eaten, is quickly metabolized into sugar. Research shows that consuming a diet rich in whole grains lowers your risk of developing diabetes & heart disease & conversely a diet high in refined grains has been associated with poorer health outcomes. Whole grains are low on calories but high fibre, B vitamins & magnesium. So for a healthier alternative starch option, that will keep you fuller for longer, try incorporating oats, amaranth, barley, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, quinoa & whole wheat into your diet.
#6 Skip the bacon
Avoiding those 2 streaks of bacon may seem tough but sticking to it will save you 100kcal (or 420kJ) which over a year translates into as much as 4.5kg of weight loss.
#7 Eat it, don’t drink it
Always opt to eat a fruit as apposed to drinking a glass of juice. Due to fibre content of most fruits, you will struggle to eat much more than one or two, but it takes a lot more than that to produce a glass of juice. So one glass of juice, has less fibre, more calories, it quickly & effortlessly adds to your daily calorie intake and your simple sugar intake.
#8 Its in the pizza toping
Go for the vegetable toppings & stay clear of the meaty options. This could shave 100 calories (420kJ) off your meal. Go easy on the cheese, if you’re making pizza at home, opt for low fat cheeses or pick a cheese free pizza if dining out. Don’t forget to chose a thin crust.
#9 Sip smart, Snip sugar
Swap out your sugar containing drinks for water or sugar-free options. A tin of anything fizzy contains at least 8 teaspoons of sugar, you wouldn’t eat that much sugar so why would you drink it? One fizzy drink a day over a month can lead to a 1 kg weight gain. Always read the label to check the sugar content of a drink before downing it. If you aren’t used to drinking water, try drinking it cold & flavoring it with cucumber / strawberry / kiwi slices or lemon juice.
#10 Tall thin glasses are a go
Research shows that people, even experienced bar tenders, pour more into shorter wider tumblers, than thinner, taller glasses. This is caused by visual cues, so opting for a taller, thinner glass can help you cut down as much as 20-30% off of your liquid calories.
#11 Hold the alcohol
The general recommendation is 1 drink per day for ladies & 2 for guys, keeping in mind that 1 drink is 30ml of spirits like whiskey or gin or 120ml of wine. So with that in mind, try to get into the habit of following an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic, low calorie drink. Alcohol also tends to loosen our resolve which could easily result in poor diet choices and over snacking on junk food.
#12 Read the box
What you need to do is start reading the labels! That is the best tool in your arsenal when navigating the shopping isles. Make sure the foods you pick contain at least 6g /100g of fibre, have less than 10g /100g of total fat & a maximum third of that fat should be saturated. The salt or sodium content should be less than 400-600mg. Check the ingredients list too & if sugar &/or salt are in the top 5 then you should probably just put that packet right back where you found it and walk away, don’t look back! Keep in mind that ingredients are listed on the label from highest quantity to the smallest.
Women who do yoga tend to weigh less than those who don’t, according to one study. This may be attributed to the fact that yoga regulars tend to have a more ‘mindful’ approach to eating and a generally healthier lifestyle outlook.
#14 The eating II PAUSE II
A natural eating pause, is that moment when a person naturally drops the fork for a few minutes. This is your body’s signal that it is full. Its easy to miss. If you identify that point, clear your plate & walk away from the table.
#15 Chew gum
Chewing gum with a strong flavor, such as mint, may prevent you from having a snac-cident. This is especially helpful to do when making dinner, when you’re at a party, watching tv or surfing the ineternet as these activities pose the greatest risk for mindless snacking.
#16 Stay home!
A Consumer Reports survey found that eating at home at least 5 times per week is a top tip for efficient weight loss.
#17 Eat out on your terms
If you do choose to eat out, beware. Restaurant meals are notoriously fattening. Try splitting a main course with your dinner date. Order a starter as a main meal & add a side salad. In summer, you can even have a salad for dinner, keep the dressing on the side & rather opt for olive oil & vinegar.
#18 Get your food portions on point
Stick to your food portions at every meal, every day. Your starch portion should be no larger than the size of your fist. Your protein should be the size of your palm & about the same thickness. A fruit should fit into you hand & vegetables should be at least two handfuls.
#19 The 80:20 Rule
The people of Okinawa eat until they are 80% full. They call this habit hara hatchi bu.
#20 Shrink your dishes
Eat less, automatically, by eating from a side plate as apposed to a dinner plate. Larger dishes lead to dishing up larger quantities and inevitably eating them. So shrinking your dishes could save you as much as 100-200calories (420-840kJ) per day which can translate into a yearly weight loss of between 4.5 to 9kg.
#21 Go for Green tea
Research suggests that catechin, a phytochemical found in green tea, could increase your body’s metabolism and thus up your calorie burning potential. It is also rich in antioxidants. On top of that, it’s calorie free. On the down side, though, you need to drink at least 4 cups per day to elicit these effects and it does contain caffeine so if you are caffeine sensitive, it may be best to sit this one out.
#22 Reach for the Red sauce
This one is for the pasta lovers, when eating pasta, always opt for marinara sauce, which is tomato based and stay away from the alfredo, cream-based sauces.
#23 Go MORE meat-LESS
Vegetarians tend to weigh less than their meat eating counterparts. Legumes are a big reason for this because they fill you up on fewer calories while being rich in vitamins and minerals as well as fibre. Including vegetarian meals in your weekly repertoire is an easy way to ensure you consume less calories and fats and so it is a slimming habit to get into.
#24 Burn 100kcal
You could lose 5kg a year, by simply burning an extra 100 calories (420kJ) per day.
Walk 1.5km, about 20min.
Do gardening for 20min.
Mow the lawn for 20min.
Clean the house for 30min.
Jog for 10min.
#25 ★ Celebrate ★
Monitor your progress but avoid weighing yourself more than once a week. When you’ve reached a goal or even managed the day without over eating, pat yourself on the back. Acknowledge your achievements and give yourself a break. Phone a friend, get a pedicure, buy new clothes… & only on ( a rather special) occasion, indulge in a slice of your best cake.