Fad diets and “quick and easy” weight loss programs may sound great, but the results are usually not long term. These diets tend to be extremely restrictive and unsustainable. In order to achieve long-term sustainable weight loss, you must commit to changing your eating behavior for weight loss.
Adapting a healthy lifestyle still allows you to consume the foods you like, in moderation of course. By simply modifying your eating behaviors, you can gain control over time and produce long lasting results for your fitness journey.
Modify Your Eating Behavior for Weight Loss Success
Eat Food Slowly
- Eating slower increases the time food is in your mouth – meaning you taste and enjoy your food more. You'll also be less likely to opt for second serving.
- Chew your food thoroughly, swallow each bite before taking another.
- Take frequent pauses throughout the course of the meal.
- Avoid eating foods directly out of the containers, bags, etc.
- Use plates and bowls to place food servings in before eating them.
- Start with 1 serving of food, when you feel 80% full stop eating and wait 20 minutes – it takes 20 minutes for the full signal in your stomach to reach your brain. After 20 minutes, if you're still hungry, your second serving of food should consist of vegetables and protein food; avoid eating an additional serving of carbohydrates.
- Keep track of the snacks you are consuming, sometimes we don't realize how many cookies, crackers, or handfuls of other foods we’ve taken from the pantry during the course of the day – these add up!
- Push your plate away when you're full or get up from the table.
- If you’re at a restaurant or someone else has prepared food, do not feel obligated to finish your entire meal. This is your life, its okay to stop eating when you're full regardless of what is left on the plate.
Control Your Eating Habits
- Planning is important for controlling your eating habits.
- Plan the days menu and eating times the day before – having a plan of what you're eating will help you avoid excess food and means staying on track.
- Shop from a list – shop smart by creating a grocery list based off the foods you plan on eating during the week. Only purchasing foods on the list will reduce purchasing any tempting foods. Do not rely on impulses.
- Do not grocery shop when you’re hungry – people who grocery shop on a full stomach buy less food than those who shop hungry.
- Take the time to read food labels, don't fall for claims on the front of the package such as “organic, natural, gluten free” as these don't necessarily mean healthy.
- Shop the perimeter of the store – where you'll find the least amount of processed foods which are often full of additional salt, fat and sugar for preserving.
- Fill up your cart with fruits, vegetables (fresh or frozen, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes).
- Limit purchasing foods not intended to be a part of a planned meal or snack such.
- Cakes, pies, ice cream, cookies, crackers, etc.
- Keep healthful foods available – prepping fruits, raw vegetables, hard boiled eggs, etc will help curb your hunger and satisfy your desire to eat until the craving passes.
- Learn to love vegetables and weight loss becomes MUCH easier! Check out Think Twice Before Starting a Diet Without Vegetables.
Strategy for Dining at Restaurants
- Choose restaurants carefully, if possible.
- Take a look at the restaurants menu ahead of time, most are posted online.
- Don’t be afraid to ask how foods are prepared and request chefs to prepare food as ordered.
- Opt for healthier options such as items listed as grilled, broiled, roasted, steamed, garden fresh, and in its own juice.
- Avoid items listed as “fried” or “crispy.”
- Many restaurants have sections with ‘healthier’ or ‘lighter’ options.
- Opt for steamed vegetables, salads, or brown rice as side options instead of higher calorie side dishes like french fries, chips, etc.
- When ordering salads, ask for salad dressings on the side and no cheese or cheese on the side – that way you’re in control of how much you add. Opt for vinaigrette, low fat, or fat free dressings.
- Avoid being overly hungry when you arrive to a restaurant.
- Eat fruit or raw vegetables at home beforehand.
- How to control how much you eat:
- If you begin with an appetizer, choose a low calorie option such as salad, shrimp cocktail or broth.
- Choose water vs caloric drinks such as soda or sweetened beverage.
- If bread is complementary, ask it to be served at the same time as your entree or not at all. Choose yeast type breads and rolls or plain tortillas. Avoid muffins, croissants, cornbread or biscuits as these are high in fat.
- Split an entree with someone.
- Restaurant portions are huge, sometimes double the servings, don't feel obligated to eat the whole thing – ask for a to-go box and enjoy at home for a later meal.
- Desserts: opt for fruit when possible. If splurging for an occasion, share a dessert or choose a mini dessert.
Even if you try to implement a few of these tactics into your eating lifestyle, over time the changes will add up! Aim for consistent behavior changes.
Good luck changing your eating behavior for weight loss success!