Changing your eating habits temporarily will cause only temporary weight loss. In order to stay at a healthier weight and to maintain - or increase - your fitness level, follow these suggestions:
Don't diet - eat better. Making radical diet changes doesn't work, so there is no benefit to cutting our foods in order to loose weight if you're going to go right back to eating them once you've reached your goal. Instead, commit to life-changes in your eating habits by making small changes that you can stick with, then building up toward a healthier food lifestyle.
Rotate. Alternate the foods you eat each day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks. Change will keep your metabolism more active - and will also keep you from getting bored with the healthier choices you're making.
Water, water, water. Water flushes fats from your body. Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to eliminate the fats the body is breaking down.
Food exchange. Food choices that are high in protein, fiber, and/or natural sugars, or choices low in fat, can be substituted for less healthy food choices. For example, select fat-free frozen yogurt rather than ice cream, or fat-free pretzels instead of fried potato chips. Eat whole grain breads, pastas, and rice instead of the more common white options. For just about any food category, there is a healthy alternative.
Cheat - but just a little. If you're craving a food that is not on the "most healthy" list, don't stress over avoiding it. Eat foods your craving in moderation. This will help you fill that craving and prevent you from binging on these foods later.
Keep in mind: for safe, permanent weight loss, you should eat the same way while losing weight as you will eat once you reach your goal. It's better to eat foods within a certain category (proteins, fruit, vegetables, etc.) rather than measure and weigh all that you eat. In this way, you tend to eliminate obsessions about food and can make eating less problematic.
You need not include every food group at each meal - just balance your food over the day. Planning meals doesn't need to be complicated. When you simply make smarter choices, your appetite for poor ones will abate. A few guidelines for balancing the food groups include:
- Eat a minimum of 10 to 12 ounces of lean protein each day. You may eat more, but not less than this to help your metabolism function as it should.
- Eat unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables. Concentrate on green leafy vegetables (unless you are taking blood-thinning drugs), but limit high sugar fruits like berries, watermelon, pineapple and bananas to every other day.
- Limit dairy products. If eggs are eaten for breakfast, do not eat cheese. Use no more than a total of one glass of milk for coffee, cereal and so on.
- Eat two whole-grain starches per day. For example, a sandwich for lunch and a potato, rice or pasta as a side dish at dinner. If the dinner entree is starch, such as a pasta meal, balance out your day by making sure you get your protein during breakfast and lunch.
- Drink lots of water. Make an effort to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. If you tend to drink a lot of soda during the day, try reducing it by substituting water. (There are several flavored waters on the market if you absolutely need something with taste - experiment and see if there's one out there that you like!)
- Responsible alcohol consumption is acceptable, but keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant that slows your metabolism.