Dieting can be a constant cycle back and forth of being focused on healthy eating followed by giving up and not thinking about food choices at all. It can create feelings of frustration, dependence, insecurity, and depression. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Weight loss can be achieved WITHOUT dieting, if you are willing to make some small behavioral changes. Here is a list of my favorite simple changes that can show real results on the scale:
1) Establish a Kitchen Closure Time
Sometimes access to our kitchen (and the food in it) is enough to make us eat, even when we are not hungry. This is especially true at night when we are more likely to be hanging around at home with no real agenda or meaningful distraction. Limiting your kitchen access can help cut down on this unnecessary eating at night, and you can do this by enforcing a kitchen closure time. Just like a restaurant closes at a certain time, your kitchen can too! For example, if you feel you are no longer hungry after 9 pm and any eating you do after that is just mindless grazing or boredom eating, 9 pm could be your kitchen closure time.
2) Pass on the Caloric Liquids
Drinks are an easy way to increase the calories in your day without even realizing it! Plus, calorie-laden beverages usually come with a handful (or 2, or 3, or 4!) of sugar, which you also don’t need. Instead of drinking your calories, opt for water or unsweetened coffee or tea. Not only will this limit your calorie and sugar intake, but it will also keep you hydrated and full! Doing this on a daily basis will add up to a big change over time.
3) Veggies, Veggies, Veggies!
Vegetables are one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that all work together to take care of your body and feeling great. The goal for optimal health is to have 5 servings of vegetables a day. This will not only help lower your disease risk but it will also help reduce your waist line. A good rule of thumb is simply to have veggies with every meal. Having some eggs for breakfast? Throw in some mushrooms and peppers. Having a sandwich for lunch? Add some lettuce and cucumber. Having a smoothie? Mix in some spinach or kale. Another good way to approach it is to have a small salad at the start of every meal— yes even breakfast. Why not start enjoying a little breakfast salad? This approach has you eating veggies when you are hungriest which often leads to eating smaller, healthier meals overall.
4) Shrink Your Plate
We all have a general expectation that a dinner plate should be 12 inches. But why? Have you ever stopped to question why your plates are that size? Probably not- it’s just automatic. And changing the automatic has benefits. Consider ditching your traditional 12-inch plates for 10-inch ones. Making this change could also help you ditch up to 20% of your calories at each meal! Now that’s a change that can really add up to big benefits! Why is this? Well we like to fill our plates. So, whatever the size of our plate, we decide appropriate portions based on what fills the plate. So if we are filling a smaller plate, we feel confident with a smaller portion. Simple as that!
5) Slow It Down
Slowing down your eating speed is a great way to become more mindful with your meals, while also aiding your digestion, your nutrient absorption, and your weight loss! That’s right, by simply eating slower, you can lose weight. When we eat quickly, we don’t register our food cognitively and have a harder time achieving satiation (that feeling of being pleasantly full). So, we eat more. By slowing down our eating, we are more likely to achieve satiation. And, as an added bonus, becoming a slower eater lowers your risk of high blood pressure and metabolic disease. So, try setting a timer at each meal for 20 minutes and see if you can stretch out mealtime a bit.
6) See the Good, Not the Junk
When you open the fridge, the first thing you see is NOT vegetables! Why? Because your veggies are hidden away in those drawers at the bottom! So when you open the fridge looking for a snack, you are WAY less likely to go for veggies. We tend to focus on what’s at eye level. So, you are most likely to go for a snack that is at eye level in your fridge. Additionally, you are much more likely to choose things you can SEE, meaning wrapped in saran wrap or clear Tupperware, not things hidden in tinfoil or opaque containers. So keep your veggies and healthy food options at eye level and in clear containers and hide that junk away in the drawers and in opaque containers.
7) Drink Up
Water is essential to almost every bodily function. Yet most of us don’t get nearly enough. But water has an important impact on weight as well. For starters, most of us can’t distinguishing the initial feelings of thirst from hunger. As such, we often end up eating when a glass of water would have done the trick. Also, water takes up space in our stomach and can help us feel fuller sooner. So, drinking water before meals can resolve both of these problems: it can help you avoid thirst so you are not eating when you are simply thirsty. And it can help you eat less at mealtimes. Not a huge water fan? Trying adding some lemon, cucumbers, watermelon, or strawberries to make your water more enjoyable!
So, pick a focus area or two from the above list and start making some positive changes. You will feel better, healthier, clearer, and the scale will thank you!
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