How to Survive … New Years Resolution – Healthy & Simple Weight Loss Tips for Lifestyle Changes

It seems the most common New Years Resolution is weight loss. You see the gyms pack up at the beginning of the year and people decide to start eating “right” which often means turning to fad diets. By the end of the year, no real changes have been made and sometimes weight has been gained. I believe in making lifestyle changes instead of “dieting”. If you change how you eat and lose weight then that’s great. But if you are unable to maintain that particular eating habit (I mean do you really think you’ll be able to live off of just juice the rest of your life and feel satisfied?) the moment you start eating like you used to you’re going to gain all the weight back, and often times more.

Let’s simplify the reason this happens. Say your body is used to getting 2500 calories a day. Suddenly you decide to try only drinking juices or cutting out all carbohydrates from your diet and limit your intake to 500-1000 calories per day. Of course you will lose some weight immediately as your body is using up its stores to maintain your energy. Now you’re at the weight you desire so you decide to go back to your old eating habits of 2500 calories a day. Guess what? You gain the weight back. In fact, your body thinks that you were going through a period of starvation and now you have access to food so it will hold on a little tighter to what you put in just in case there’s another period of starvation around the corner. This is why when people diet and then return to old habits they are more likely to not only gain the weight that was lost but even a little more.

So what should you do? Should you stop eating all sweets or carbs or fats forever? Let me ask you this, will you be satisfied if you never have those things ever again? Probably not. And chances are you will build up a huge craving and eventually binge on those “off limits” foods you created for yourself. Instead, make small healthy changes to the way you eat that you are able to maintain for life. Below is a list of simple, healthy weight loss tips. What I recommend is for you to pick 1 or 2 to try for a week. If after that week you find that you are easily able to follow those tips without even thinking about it, then add another. If you find that the tip you chose is too difficult, swap it for a different one. My goal is for you to make simple and healthy lifestyle changes, not go on a drastic diet that you will never be able to maintain. Will the weight fall off as quickly as if you were to follow a fad diet? No. But in the end will it stay off? You bet.

Many of these I teach to my patients in the hospital and can be found at eatright.org from the AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

  • Eat at least 3 meals per day.
    • This goes back to the starvation and holding on to food idea that I explained above. If you only eat 1 or 2 meals a day, your body is likely to hold on to what you do put in making it that much harder to lose the weight.
  • Pay attention to your body’s satiety cues.
    • Don’t eat until you are stuffed or sick from eating.
  • Wait 10 minutes after a meal or snack before going for more.
    • It takes your stomach some time to get the message to your brain that you’re full. If you eat too fast and go back for seconds too soon, your brain won’t have time to get that message.
  • Drink plenty of water.
    • You may be thirsty, not hungry. Drink water while you prepare meals. Drink a glass of water before you eat and during meals.
  • Swap out for lean meats, low-fat/non-fat cheese, skim/1% milk.
    • These are easy ways to continue to eat the same foods but just swapping for the lower fat options.
  • Get plenty of fiber from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
    • Fiber causes you to feel full so you won’t eat as much .

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  • Cut back on sugar.
    • Drink less soda and fruit juice if it isn’t 100% fruit juice
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
    • Alcohol not only has calories with little nutrition but it also lowers our inhibitions which could cause you to eat more that you normally would.
  • Keep food in the kitchen.
    • Serve yourself and then go to the dinner table to eat. Do not keep serving trays where they are easy to reach and tempting you to eat more.
  • Eat in a chosen place such as a dinner table.
    • Don’t eat in the car, bedroom, or in front of the TV. Doing so often results in overeating and not feeling satisfied because you weren’t paying attention to what you consumed.
  • Plan meals ahead of time.
    • This allows you choose healthier options that may take a little more prep than popping in a TV dinner.
  • Bake, broil, roast, or boil foods when preparing meals.
    • This cuts back on calories.
  • Use nonstick cooking sprays, wine, broth, or fruit juice instead of butter or oil
    • This also cuts back on calories.

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  • Cook only what you need for one meal (don’t make leftovers).
    • This goes for people who are unable to limit their eating to just one portion if there is more available.
  • If you make leftovers, put them out of sight.
    • Portion out single servings into containers to make it easy to grab for lunch or dinner the next day.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls, glasses, and serving spoons.
    • If your plate is larger you will likely want to fill it. If your plate is smaller, you will think you are eating more and feel more satisfied.
  • Use the plate method.
    • Divide your plate in quarters, 1 portion for meat, 1 for starch (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread), 1 for fruit, 1 for nonstarchy vegetables.
  • Put salad dressing on the side.
    • If you dip your food into the dressing you are likely to use less than if you pour the dressing directly onto the salad.
  • Eat slowly.
    • Studies have shown that people who eat slower consume less calories and feel less hungry an hour afterwards compared to those who eat fast. Take breaks from eating during meals, put your fork down between bites, cut your food one bite at a time, savor your food, chew thoroughly. Remember, it takes your stomach some time to get the message to your brain that you’re full.
  • Enjoy fruit for dessert 
    • Instead of cake, pie, ice cream, or other high-calorie, low-nutrition sweets
  • Plan ahead with snacks.
    • Make sure to have healthy options on hand such as nuts, string cheese, chopped fruit, and sliced veggies with low-calorie dips like hummus. Make an effort not to buy quick unhealthy options such as candy, cookies, and chips.

 

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