The key to losing weight is to eat less and move more. That mantra may seem simple, but why is it just so darn hard to make meaningful changes to your diet, and actually see the results? Because you’re doing it wrong, most likely. Adopting a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of hard work, a lot of soul-searching, and a lot of patience. Click through for tips on ways to revamp your diet.
As always, it’s best to talk to your doctor before starting any diet plan.
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1. Start a Food Diary.
Studies have shown time and again that people who keep food diaries are more likely to lose weight. Before you even start to make changes to your diet, start by writing in a food diary for two weeks. Record everything you ate, the number of calories, and other nutritional information like fat, fiber, and more. Studies have shown time and again that people who keep food diaries are more likely to lose weight. Food diaries are a great tool for figuring out what needs to change about your diet.
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2. Take a Hard Look at your Lifestyle and Food Habits.
Look through your food diary. What sorts of lifestyle habits, both good and bad, are contributing to your food choices and preferences? Don’t have enough time in the morning to eat a big breakfast? Ordering takeout at the end of the day because you’re too tired to make dinner? Find simple solutions like, say, waking up a little earlier each morning or doing some prep work over the weekend to prepare for weekday dinners. Often times, lifestyle changes will bring upon diet changes .
3. Start Slowly.
Let’s say you want to run a marathon, but can barely make it a block or two without stopping. Does it mean you’ll never be able to go the distance? Nope, it means you haven’t trained enough. The same thing goes for revamping your diet. If you suddenly cut 1,500 calories a day, your body won’t be very happy, and you’ll be more likely to stray from your healthy eating plan.. But you can train yourself to, overtime, incorporate healthy eating plans. Try to swap out, or cut back on, one thing a week. Swap whole grains for white grains. Reach for an apple or a handful of almonds instead of potato chips in the afternoon. Cut the cream and sugar out of your morning coffee. Take a few less bites of ice cream. You get the picture.
4. Consider Not Just What You Eat, But How Much.
So much of dieting is about how much we eat, not necessarily about what we eat. Studies have also shown that people tend to underestimate how much they consumed. You can blame restaurants, in large part, for that one — they’ve gotten us accustomed to larger and larger portion sizes over the years.
You can still eat many of the foods you love as long as you monitor your portion sizes. Love chocolate? Try to limit yourself to one small piece a day. Cheese fanatic? give yourself a little to enjoy with your meal.
You have to know your limits, however. If one bite of ice cream is never going to be enough, and you secretly eat it on it one spoonful at a time over the course of a night until the whole pint is gone (not that I, ahem, have ever done that, or anything!) then perhaps its best to not keep ice cream in the freezer at all.
5. Don’t Think About What You’re Giving Up, Think About What You’re Gaining.
It’s easy to get in the mindset that dieting is all about what you can’t eat instead of what you can. Don’t think about the white bread or cheese you’ve cut out of your sandwich, think about the healthy greens or other vegetables you’ve added to your sandwich. Make a list of your favorite healthy foods, the kinds of foods that aren’t even a little bit of a chore to eat, and incorporate those into your daily meals.
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Is that list of your favorite healthy foods pretty pathetic? Now’s the time to experiment! Make a point to try one new ingredient, or one new meal, a week. Go to the farmer’s market or grocery store and find a vegetable you’ve never seen before. Don’t just add some steamed broccoli to your usual pasta, but find recipes that incorporate the broccoli and let it shine. If you’ve written off quinoa because of one lousy experience, go back and try a different recipe. Start keeping a list of your favorite healthy meals.
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7. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand.
It’s 3PM and your starving, but the only food around is stuff that comes out of a vending machine. Don’t let this happen ever, ever again! Keep a stash of healthy snacks, like nuts, granola bars and fruits and veggies, close at hand. It’s those
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8. Treat Yourself.
Don’t skip that stuffing on Thanksgiving. Don’t stick with a fruit salad on your birthday when what you really want is a slice of chocolate cake. Those may be extreme examples of letting yourself “cheat” on your healthy eating every once in a while, but if you let yourself eat the foods you crave every once in a while (perhaps once a month or even once a week) it will be easier to keep from straying the rest of the time.
Or don’t. Everyone is different. Perhaps cheating on your diet isn’t right for you, because you won’t be able to control yourself. As with all of these tips, it’s best to know your habits, your body and your mind before you commit to them.