We have all at some point or the other gone on a diet to quickly whip our body into shape, for whatever reason, and that is fine. However, instead of enduring a few sporadic crash diets from time to time, we should seek to implement habits that are sustainable in the long run. That way, we would always be ready with the best version of our physical self.
Below I share a few tips that I live by to maintain a healthy diet all year round and keep the excess weight at bay.
Slowly cut back on food portions
Cutting down on the amount of food you eat at each meal will help to naturally shrink your stomach. When you are in the habit of eating a big meal, the stomach doesn’t feel satisfied unless it has the quantity it always receives. If you do not cut back in moderation, you can end up feeling tired and irritable. Cutting back means eating smaller portions. It does not mean cutting out certain food altogether. According to health experts, diets that rob your body of the essential nutrients, vitamins and mineral it needs to function properly can take a toll on your health and put your body at risk for health breakdowns.
When I am trying to reduce my weight, especially during my modelling days I would practice this. I am someone who loves to have breakfast. I almost never skip it. For most people, it is the best way to start the day – fueled up! Lunch was not always proportionally smaller than breakfast, but it was usually a heavier meal, with rice and some kind of meat and veggies, or a good wrap. Dinner would be my smallest meal. This was usually a large fruit salad or, if I was really hungry, meat with vegetables only.
Tip: try using a smaller plate. Doing so tricks the eye and brain into thinking you have eaten a larger meal.
Avoid fatty foods as much as you can
Eating healthy does not mean cutting out all of the foods you love, and not all fats are bad. Similarly, eating what you consider to be a healthy meal does not mean you are eating healthy. For example, when having a salad the dressing you use may be high in fat. Instead you could try replacing the usual salad dressing with yogurt, vinegar and other low-fat spreads and salad dressings to flavour your food. In general, reduce your consumption of fried, oily and greasy foods like fries, pizza, patties, othet fast foods, fried chicken and other meats that are high in fat content.
Tip: How can you tell right away that a food is fatty? Try rubbing it with a napkin. If grease is visible on the napkin then the food probably has a lot of fat.
Stop eating late at night
Another good habit is to set a time during the evening when you will have your “last supper”. For example, I try to not eat past 7:00 PM. Of course I am not always able to do so, but I can most of the time. Eating late at night means you are potentially eating too close to bedtime, which also means your food has likely not been digested by the time you get into bed. When we sleep our body is mainly resting and in a sedentary state. This likely means that the food we have eaten close to bedtime has not been digested and instead, our body stores it as fat.
Tip: If you anticipate having to dine out past your usual dinner time, have a hearty snack before dinner to fill you up and curb your hunger and prevent you from eating everything on your plate at dinner.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water helps to flush away toxins and fat, as well as curb your appetite. Drinking water also helps to burn calories. It forces your body to speed up its metabolism. It is recommended that you drink eight (8) glasses of water daily. Put another way, you should drink approximately 2,500 ml per day. Keep in mind that a lot of food and drinks we eat contain fluid, so we should consider this when thinking of our water intake.
Tip: To track your water intake, use a reusable water bottle with measurements on the side of it, instead of drinking water from a glass or cup. And here is a bonus tip, drink two glasses of water (approximately 350 ml) first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking any other fluids. That way you have a head start on your water intake before your stomach becomes too filled up with everything else you consume.
Reduce your snacking
I love chips (crisps) and chocolate bars, but I do not indulge every week or even everyday. If you do buy snacks, keep them out of sight. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. Better yet, do not keep snacks at home. Once you have them, you will eat them, guaranteed. Although I think I have will power, I still make it a habit to not buy snacks often. I will occasionally buy chips, cookies or biscuits and ice cream, but I will mostly buy ice cream from the ice cream shop whenever I feel like having a treat.
Tip: If you think you have to buy snacks choose the healthy ones (e.g. baked chips), where possible.
Do not stop eating
One of the first things many people do when they are trying to lose weight is to skip meals or stop eating altogether. Skipping meals is actually not good for your body. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism so that your body stores calories and burns them at a slower rate. This is especially true when you go on a crash diet. The body gets worried that it is going to run out of energy, so it starts to slow down and conserve energy and pack away fat. Skipping meals is not only detrimental to your health, it can actually cause you to gain weight.
Tip: Instead of skipping meals replace mealtime with a healthy snack like a fruit salad or a snack bar.
Burning calories is one of the best way to see results. Physical fitness coupled with healthy eating habits will do wonders for your health or fitness journey. The good thing is you do not have to spend hours in the gym. Take a stroll, walk on the spot at home, or take the stairs at work. Even small efforts to keep physically active will go a long way to help you achieve your goal. Practice the above mentioned habits with your exercise regimen to become a healthier you.
Tip: Take every opportunity to move. Take the stairs at work, or learn a few moves that you can do at home while watching TV.
What’s one thing you do that helps you to stay healthy year-round?