There is no shortage of advice and how-to’s on how to lose weight. Many of these ideas and diets do work, especially in the short-term. However, once you stop the diet then the weight comes right back!
There are some simple strategies that you can implement in your lifestyle that will make it easier to lose the excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight.
One — Keep it simple. Complicated diet plans, customized to your specific genes and insulin levels and more are not necessary. Often just a simple, healthy diet full of whole foods is enough.
The easier your nutrition plan is to implement and follow, then the more likely you are to maintain it for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Two — Eat more fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and numerous phytonutrients. They are also a source of filling fibre and water.
There are many easy and delicious recipes for whole fruits and vegetables which provide nutrition to heal and sustain our bodies.
Eat lots of colours of fruits and vegetables as often as possible as these colours signify a high level of phytonutrients.
A 2018 study ((http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/diet-precision-1.4543617), which compared weight loss results between two dieting groups, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that it didn’t matter what diet the participants followed. The people who lose weight had the following things in common.
People who consumed the fewest processed foods, sugary drinks, unhealthy fats and ate the most vegetables lost the most weight.
Three — Move your body every day! While losing weight is 90% due to changes in your diet and nutrition, exercise helps to strengthen and tone the body.
Exercise will raise your resting metabolic rate, helping your body burn more calories at rest and has a positive effect on health: lowering depression and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer.
Walking daily is an easy and pleasant way to keep your body moving. Make it as brisk as you can handle for increasing periods of time. And have fun — walk in nature, with a friend, a pet or with music.
If you don’t use it, you will lose it. Keeping fit physically will be a huge blessing when you get older. Keeping strength and flexibility in your muscles will reduce age-related problems.
Four— Eat slowly and mindfully. Many of us eat while we are watching TV or reading, my personal favourite. The problem with this approach is that we are just not paying attention.
We often stuff ourselves quickly and then feel bloated and sick. It takes about 20 minutes to feel that “full” feeling. Try eating slower and eating less.
Slow down! Put your fork down between bites. Only eat; don’t watch TV or read a book.
Conversation can also be distracting, but eating with friends and family is fun and healthy, just make sure to pay attention to what and how much you are eating. The fork trick will help!
Fifth — Drink more water. Water is vital to our health. We are chronically dehydrated as a society and this has its own health problems but also affects our weight.
People who drink more water tend to lose more weight as more water helps you to burn calories and can lower hunger. Often we are just thirsty when we feel hunger.
Have a big drink of water before you eat!
Six — Cut out or dramatically reduce sugar intake. Sugar makes you fat. Simple as that, it is excess calories with no nutritional value and it is stored as fat in the body and increases inflammation.
Try not to replace the sugar in your diet with artificial sweeteners! They aren’t any better, some are synthesized from harmful chemicals and they have been shown not to help with weight loss.
Also, start training your taste buds to dislike really sweet tastes. Sugar is addictive and getting off sugar can take some time. But once you do it is worth it and you will eventually find that the cravings for sugar are finally gone!
By cutting out sugars for just a three-month period last year, I was able to lose weight and improve my health.
My article on sugar goes into more detail here. This is a habit that would be great to follow for your entire life. I promise once you break the sugar habit that it will get easier!
Seven — Reduce processed foods.
An easy policy is to try to eat food that was food 100 years ago. Michael Pollan’s simple diet advice from his book In Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto is:
Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
This is such wonderfully simple advice. Processed food can be full of harmful chemicals or at least mostly devoid of nutrition, providing simply empty calories. Often it is high in sugar and bad fats.
Eight — Eat healthy fat and stop eating bad fats. The problem of obesity and overweight isn’t the fat we eat; fat is critical in our diet.
We need dietary fats for life, health, body functioning and, when eating, taste and satiety (fullness). It is time to start accepting that dietary fat is essential for health.
So many of us though, are eating the wrong kinds of fats. And this is contributing to our poor health. There are good and bad fats and it is important to really know and understand the difference.
Good fats are generally unsaturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Some examples of food sources of healthy fats are cold-water fish, flax seeds, avocados, olive, nuts, seeds and soybeans.
Coconut oil, although mostly a saturated fat, is considered healthy because it contains MUFA’s (Medium chain fatty acids) which has many health benefits, including possibly aiding in weight loss.
Bad fats are usually the saturated fat and trans-fats. Found in fast food, processed foods and fried foods.
Choosing wisely what type of fat you eat will make a huge difference in your health.
Nine — Only eat until 80% full. “Hara hachi bu” — the Japanese manta — which Okinawans (a Blue Zone community) follow, means to stop eating your meal when you feel about 80% full.
We don’t need to feel stuffed.
People who live long and healthy lives generally don’t eat until they are totally full. (See my article on blue zones here.) And they eat smaller meals in the evening.
Take away — Try implementing the 80% rule in your life.
Ten — Avoid extreme diets. They are hard on your body and most people gain back all the weight they lost. Try to find a healthy, nutritious lifestyle that you can maintain, with pleasure, for life.
Losing weight and keeping it off can be a challenge. These are simple (not always easy!) tricks to help get you started on healthy habits.