Millions of Americans go on diets each year with the intention of losing weight. Most of the time, these diets fail. Diets just don’t work for the long term. Sure, you might initially lose weight, but eventually you’ll hit a plateau and then what? Also, how long can you count points, count calories, or eat strange food combinations in the hopes of losing weight and getting in great shape? This just doesn’t work for the long term. So, do you want to know what does work?
It’s simple actually. You must eat healthy foods 80-90% of the time. Period. That’s it! Eat healthy and you will lose weight and keep it off. So what does this mean exactly? This means no dieting. It means consciously stocking your cupboards and refrigerator with healthy, whole foods that are good for your body. This means not eating anything processed or with added fats or sugars.
You must adopt a healthy, clean-eating lifestyle and maintain this for life. It is the only way. Sure, you might lose weight initially through dieting, but can you really keep it up for the rest of your life? Once you go back to your regular eating habits, you will inevitably gain back whatever you’ve lost. You must make positive, lasting lifestyle changes.
Here are some easy ways to adopt healthy eating habits for life:
1. Quit buying junk food.
If it’s not in your kitchen, than you can’t eat it. So, throw away (or give away) any junk food that you currently have in your house. This includes chips, cookies, candy, ice cream, frozen meals, and anything made with sugar or white flour. Anything that contains preservatives or has more than a few ingredients listed is probably not very healthy. Get rid of all of it. Most of us eat mindlessly. If it’s in the house, then it’s fair game for an eating frenzy. Even I can’t resist the lure of a big bag of salt ‘n vinegar potato chips or freshly baked chocolate brownies. So, get rid of it!
2. Plan ahead.
Plan your meals for the day, so that you know exactly what you will be eating. Fill your day with plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Plan on fueling your body every 3-4 hours. Eat healthy snacks, such as almonds, fruit, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Be sure to drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water each day.
3. Shop the perimeter.
Healthy, unprocessed foods are located in the perimeter of the grocery store. You should find most of your foods for the day here. Stock up on healthy fruits and vegetables in a varieties of colors. Buy lean meats and proteins, such as chicken breast, fish, turkey breast, tuna and egg whites. If you are not sensitive to dairy products you can add skim milk, low fat cheeses, Greek yogurt and low fat cottage cheese.
4. Bake, grill, or cook with olive oil.
Include protein with each meal. You should bake, grill, or cook your meat in heart-healthy olive oil. There is no reason to skimp on taste when eating healthy. A great source for delicious, healthy meals is Clean Eating Magazine. Here you will find many wonderful recipes to tempt your tastebuds and satisfy your cravings.
5. Have a crave meal.
If you’ve been eating consciously and healthily all week, then it’s perfectly fine to reward yourself with a crave meal. A lot of times people feel that they failed their diets when they fall off the wagon and eat a cookie or a whole bag of chips. Then they often ditch their diets completely, thinking it is just too hard being so restrictive. And they’re right. Being super-restrictive with your meals is no fun. When you are not allowed to eat certain foods, it almost makes them that much more appealing. So, once a week, plan on having a crave meal where you eat whatever you want. This will not only keep you sane, but you don’t have to worry about not being able to go out to dinner or eat anything at the next party. As long as you are eating healthy the majority of the time, it won’t make any difference.