In January, we were busy setting personal goals about our psychological, intellectual, financial, and physical health. Now that it’s March, it’s time to revisit the very common weight loss goal. It is fairly well known that the reason diets rarely work is that they force you to cut out foods you probably love. However, experts agree that small changes to your diet can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Below are a few small suggestions:
Exercise portion control
Portion control can be exceptionally difficult when dining out because, more often than not, the entrée you ordered is almost double the size of a regular meal that you would prepare at home. One tip for eating out is to immediately split the meal in half and take the second half home for lunch the next day. When you are snacking from a box or a bag, it is important to read the nutrition label, identify the recommended portion size, and serve that portion size on a plate or in a bowl. When you eat straight from the box or bag, it’s easy to eat too much.
Eat the colors of the rainbow
Incorporating a variety of colors in your fruits and vegetable intake helps ensure you’re eating a well-rounded diet. “Making sure that your plate has at least three different colors on it will help you focus on creating more balanced meals,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and founder of TLB Nutrition in New York City. “Different colored fruits and vegetables also provide nutrients and vitamins, which will not only help with weight loss but [also] overall health.”
Don’t drink your calories
When ordering your favorite drink from a coffeehouse, it’s important to consider the nutritional facts. Starbucks’ grande iced white chocolate mocha has 420 calories and 49 grams of sugar. Craft coffee drinks and sugary sodas are a major culprit for additional sugar intake each day. Even drinks that are advertised as “healthy” can contain unnecessary calories or sugars. For example, most Vitamin Water beverages have over 31 grams of sugar.
Boost your protein intake
Most Americans get more than their fair share of protein, but if you’re dieting, you may not be getting enough to meet your body’s needs. Consider adding small amounts of protein to your meals throughout the day. Items like a palm-sized portion of lean meat or legumes can be added to salads. Carb- and calorie-heavy items like bread and bagels can be swapped for protein-rich eggs or low-sugar yogurt.
Eating breakfast provides you with nutrition that can fuel your day. A healthy breakfast that contains protein, carbohydrates, and fiber can help give you a morning boost and evens out your blood sugar so you’re less likely to binge on calorie-dense junk foods later in the day.
According to a U.S. National Health Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans are not drinking enough water. Being properly hydrated is important for many reasons, including helping eliminate unnecessary snacking. When the body is dehydrated and needs water, it sends a signal to the brain and people often think they are hungry when, in reality, they just need a big glass of water. The Mayo Clinic advises that men should drink about 15.5 cups of fluids and women should drink about 11.5 cups of fluids each day.
Don’t fear fat
When looking at nutrition labels, it is important to remember that there are good fats, such as omega-3s, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Avocados, walnuts, olive oil, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate, and flax seed are all foods that have good fats. It is best to avoid saturated and trans fats.
Swap your snack for something healthier
By swapping your mid-afternoon bag of chips for a piece of fruit, you’ve reduced your calorie intake and increased your nutrients. High water and fiber content in fruit can help satisfy your hunger.