2015 is here and if you're like most people, you've probably set your sights on losing weight and getting into the best shape of your life. Maybe you've even told yourself the same thing in years past and picked up the latest diet book and put into action whatever is recommended, no matter how preposterous the suggestion was. Over the past few years, I've seen juice cleanses and fasting diets, which only lead to temporary loss of water weight and, recently eating like a French woman was all the craze. Heck, I've even seen one that recommended cupcakes!
Folks, these diets don't work! Fads, crash diets, quick fixes, and bizarre remedies do not lead to healthy weight loss. Slow, steady and reasonable changes in behavior do. Theoretically, it's easy: eat less and move more and, over time, this will lead to weight loss. But, for many people, this is hugely challenging and their goals remain elusive.
Here are my tricks and tips to help you with your weight-loss efforts:
- Eat with your non-dominant hand or use chop sticks. This will help you to slow down your eating and take smaller bites. Both of these are correlated with less intake of food and ultimately weight loss. Similarly, use smaller plates and bowls. This will force you to take less food and consume less.
- Keep food away from the table. Serving directly from the stove or counter will lessen your desire to take second helpings simply because the food is in front of you. You'll also be more aware of what you're eating.
- Slow it down and chew more. Doing so allows more time for your brain and stomach to get in sync with each other. It takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes for your stomach to send signals to your brain that you're full, hence the frequent overeating.
- Eat before leaving your house. If you have an event or party to attend and you know food and drinks will be served, eat beforehand. This will help eliminate your desire to indulge simply because the food looks good, is free and is in front of you.
- Eat healthy snacks between meals. If packing them to go, put them in small one-serving bags rather than large ones. Keep in mind: big container = big consumption. Similarly, when shopping for food, buy small containers and avoid jumbo-sized as they only encourage bigger portions.
- Eat before you eat your meal. That's right, eat a small healthy snack or salad before dinner or lunch. This will help you feel more satiated and eliminate cravings to indulge.
- When dining out avoid the bread and ask for a take-home container. Before you begin to eat, pack up a small portion of your meal to bring home for another meal. Restaurant portions are getting bigger over time and this is one way to ensure eating less.
- Occupy your hands and/or mouth while watching TV. Chewing gum, ironing, or squeezing a stress ball are a few such suggestions. Most people reach for chips and other junk food when in front of their televisions. We're conditioned to do this. If possible skip past commercials altogether. Many food commercials will unconsciously trigger your brain to reach for food.
- Substitute junk with healthier food that resembles the texture and taste of junk. For example, eat frozen grapes to satisfy your Popsicle cravings or eat yogurt with blueberries instead of that bowl of ice cream. Overtime your taste buds and brain will adjust and learn to like these healthier options.
- Exercise, but not too long and not too intensely. One sure way to sabotage your efforts is to take on too much, too soon. Go easy at first and gradually increase. As with any task, small successes will motivate you to pursue bigger goals.