If you’re like most people, the New Year seems to be the perfect time to define your new goals. With the holiday season behind us, there isn’t as much temptation to eat unhealthily or be less active. We also tend to start the New Year with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.
If one of your personal goals is to eat healthier, we challenge to you adopt these healthy habits instead of making unrealistic “resolutions” to lose 50 pounds or never eat junk food again. Thanks to research, we know more about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
Losing about 2 pounds per week is a good rate of weight loss. At this rate, you are likely to both stick to your plan and also to keep the weight off. If you lose weight more quickly than this, it is usually a sign of a “fad” diet and the pounds will not stay off. The truth is, losing weight and eating healthier aren’t something that happens overnight. It takes time to adopt healthier habits and see results, but if you stick to, you will see results…lifelong results.
Don’t eliminate any one food
As soon as you swear off a food, chocolate for example, the more you will crave it. There is a lot to be said about eating in moderation. If chocolate is one of your all-time favorite foods, instead of eliminating it completely, try to reduce the frequency and portion size. If you normally have chocolate at least once per day. Try to limit it to once every other day and try to reduce the portion size to 150 calories or less each time. Eventually reduce it down to about once per week or so. The key is to view it as a “treat” rather than a daily staple. Knowing that you are “allowed” to have chocolate will help prevent a binge eating episode.
Do pay attention to portion sizes
As mentioned above, portion is a key ingredient to a healthy diet. In the modern American diet, we suffer from portion distortion. Thanks in part to giant sized fast food and restaurant portions, we have become normalized to these super servings and also to eating with our eyes and not our stomachs. One great way to reduce portion size while eating at home is to start out with a smaller amount of food on your plate and then go back for seconds only if you are hungry. We have a tendency to eat all the food that is on our plate, regardless of how much is there. By starting out with a smaller portion, you will be more aware of how much you are actually eating. Using smaller dishes and serving utensils has also been shown to reduce portions sizes. Additionally, try not to eat out more than once or twice per week. Fast food portion sizes are out of your control, so it’s best just to stay away from eating out too often.
Don’t mindlessly snack
This is big one for most Americans. Mindlessly snacking means watching TV with a bag of chips. Or snacking right after dinner. In these situations, chances are you are not really hungry. Rather, you are eating just for the fun of it or maybe because it is a habit. Sometimes you may not even realize how much you have eaten until the bag is empty. Try to reduce snacking to only 2 snacks per day. When you do snack, plan for a healthy one such as cheese and grapes, peanut butter and whole grain crackers, or freshly popped plain popcorn with a little salt. Pay attention to the food as you eat it. What does it taste, smell, and feel like as you eat it? By paying more attention to each bite, you will be more satisfied and less likely to overeat.
Do have a plan
It’s one thing to say “I’m going to eat healthier tomorrow”. It’s another thing to cook a healthy meal the night before, package it up, and re-heat it for lunch the next day. Eating healthy requires thought and planning. Pick one day of the week to plan your meals. With free healthy recipes on sites like Pinterest, planning a healthy menu is easier than ever and will probably take less than 30 minutes. Write out each meal and all the ingredients needed. Take this with you to the grocery store. Chose another day of the week (or the same day), and prepare a couple of meals ahead of time. This way, you have healthy meals that are ready to take on the go or readily heated up when you come home from a long day at work and don’t feel like cooking.