The not-so-sexy truth: America is one of the countries with the highest obesity rates. In fact, a study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that obesity rates have increased in six states, including New Jersey, Tennessee and Delaware. This is alarming, especially when the government is spending money educating the public and doing something to address the obesity epidemic.
This is where weight loss programs come in – to address this epidemic and make America a healthier and, uhh, thinner nation.
The problem is there are tons of weight loss programs and dieting tools available, making it hard to distinguish whether these weight loss tools are legitimate or just a money making scheme.
More so, it is hard to differentiate healthy eating habits from habits that simply false. To guide you better, here is the real deal about forming healthy eating habits and eventually losing weight the right way.
1. Eat Moderate Portions
First, you are not a contestant in a hotdog-eating contest. Second, there is no prize to win in case you finished your food, except for a happy tummy.
Therefore, keep the portion sizes reasonable. This way, it will be easier for you to eat the foods you want and at the same time, keep yourself healthy.
Here’s a trick: use smaller plates during mealtime. Big
create an illusion that you need to fill it up with food, hence the tendency to overeat. Using smaller plates helps you forget that you need to watch what you eat, too.
2. Never Say No To Meals
Here’s the problem. You woke up late with only little time to prepare and get yourself to work.
Instead of preparing a healthy breakfast, you took a bath, put on your clothes and grabbed a granola bar to eat on your way to work. There’s lunchtime coming soon anyway where you can eat a delicious meal, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, skipping meals can lead to overeating. Worse yet, once you are hungry, you forget about the concept of what is healthy and nutritious from what is not. You’re hungry. All you care about is to get food in your stomach.
The bottom line is always eat meals on a regular basis. Snacking in between meals can help curb hunger, though make sure to eat healthy snacks in small portions.
3. All Healthy Diets Are Winners
Hmm, you didn’t see this one coming, right? There are tons of diets available out there that promise to help you lose pounds – fast. Here’s the thing: there is no one size that fits all type of diet that can help curb obesity.
In fact, there is no diet program that will work best for everyone no matter how allegedly effective it is. This is the reason why various diet plans are compared to each other because every person is different. What works for you may not work for others.
If you really want to lose weight, always consider various factors such as your genes, lifestyle, environment and personal preferences. Use this as a gauge to determine the type of diet program you will utilize. Keep in mind that any healthy diet available can make people lose weight. It is just a matter of finding what works for you best.
4. Reduce, Not Eliminate
Ever wonder why the food pyramid was introduced? This is to guide people of the type of nutrients they should take and the amount of serving recommended to ensure proper nutrition. Therefore, don’t eliminate food groups because each one of them, including fats, is important.
The key is to reduce, not remove any from the food pyramid. Identify the foods you mostly eat, check out the portion sizes, and make changes if necessary.
Adjust your food choices and consider alternatives. For instance, if you love eating beef, then consider lean meat as your primary source of protein.
The important thing is to identify which area you are going overboard, and from which food groups you need to work on. Then strike a balance between the two.
5. Introduce Changes Gradually
Fact: your body hates anything drastic. Whatever changes you want to introduce, make sure you do it slowly. Otherwise, it will find a way to get back at you. Once your body decides to wage a war against you, you surely won’t win.
Therefore, make changes gradually. There is no such thing as changing your eating habits overnight. The more you fast-forward everything, the lower the success rate will be.
Start with modest changes that can help add up to lifelong eating habits. It can be reducing your usual one cup of rice to a half cup for the first week, and then focus on getting rid of sugar the following week.
In other words, develop one habit at a time. Don’t rush.
6. Differentiate Good Carbs From Bad Ones
Here’s another fact you need to accept: you can’t say goodbye to carbs. No matter how much you want to get rid of it, you can’t say no to it since your body needs it to convert it into energy.
In this case, the best thing you can do is to choose the good ones and eliminate the bad.
So, what constitutes good or healthy carbs? This includes whole grains, fruits, beans and vegetables. In other words, carbs that are digested slowly by your body help you feel fuller longer and keep your blood sugar stable. Include them in every main meal.
On the other hand, there are types of carbs you need to avoid. Also known as unhealthy or bad carbs, this includes refined sugar, white flour and white rice. Simply put, foods that are stripped of their fiber, bran and main nutrients.
7. Consider The Mediterranean Diet
Okay, fine. All diet programs available are healthy and effective ones. However, there is one type of diet that really stands out: the Mediterranean diet. It’s not because of the Mediterranean’s member-countries’ contribution to the world but because studies show how this type of diet can contribute to better heart health and longer life.
How can you go Mediterranean? Here are foods you need to add to your diet:
- Lots of Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Olive Oil
- Beans, Lentils, Peas Or Legumes
- Yogurt or Cheese
- Fish and Lean Protein
- Wine in Limited Amounts
This is definitely heart-healthy food, don’t you think?
8. Fish It Is
When you hear the word protein, the first thing that comes into your mind is meat. However, not all forms of meat should be eaten daily. If you need protein, then fish can also be a good provider.
In fact, your diet needs at least two portions of fish every week, since it also contains essential omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Any type of fish in particular?
Not really, although oily fish are most recommended. This type of fish is rich in Omega-3 fats that can help prevent heart disease. Examples of this are tuna, salmon, sardines and trout among others.
You can opt for fresh fish or go for smoked or canned. However, take it easy on canned or smoked, since it can be high in salt, which is something you want to stay away from.
9. Choose Your Fats Wisely
Here’s a secret: not all fats are bad. There are good fats, which are what your body needs to nourish every portion of your entire body and system, and bad fats, which are, well, not good for your body.
What type of fats should you eat? Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, of course. This comes in the form of olive oil, peanut oil, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
However, you should avoid saturated fat and trans fat that are found in animal sources, such as red meat or whole milk dairy products. At the same time, baked goods, processed food and fried foods are excellent sources of trans fat that you need to avoid at all costs.
10. Don’t Forget To Bulk Up On Fiber
Fiber plays an important role in your body. It keeps you feel fuller longer, reduces unnecessary food intake, helps you lose weight and lowers your risk against serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Therefore, tap good sources of fiber such as whole grains, oatmeal, nuts, beans and fruits, as well as vegetables, particularly berries, tomatoes and celery.
However, be careful on this one since some high fiber foods sold in the supermarket are already stripped of their fiber content, so make sure you always go for unprocessed ones.
Does this mean you should forget the South Beach diet, Atkins diet or whatever diet you are into right now? Well, that depends on you. Again, healthy diet programs available are nutritious and effective for many. Just make sure you are not missing out on any food groups, you take meals regularly and you stay away from unhealthy food as much as you can. You’re going to be fine.