We’ve all been there.
Your pants aren’t fitting like they used to, you feel more tired than usual, and the family photos just came in the mail.
You thought you looked great that day, but bam! The evidence is staring you right in the face. You gained some weight and you can now tell the difference.
It’s a moment that can send you into a frenzy searching for the latest fad diet promising to help you lose 40 pounds by next month. But, the best thing you can do is breathe, take a step back, and consider what diet may work best for you.
Best for you may not look like what is best for your mother-in-law or your best friend. To avoid ever having this realization again, you need to find a food plan that will work best for you in the long run.
We all want to be our best selves and look our best. Most of all, we want to feel like ourselves. By learning how to eat healthy and lose weight, we can get back to feeling like “us”.
Read on to learn how to eat healthy and lose weight without going crazy.
1. Gradually Reduce Calories
When we see that number on the scale or a photo of ourselves that we don’t like, it’s easy to want to dramatically cut calories. After all, a cut in calories means weight loss, right?
In the short-term, yes, but in the long-run can you truly see this strategy working by itself? By focusing on eating nutritious, wholesome foods instead of cutting calories, you prepare your body to feel great and have the energy to lose weight for the long-term.
For women, aim to cut anywhere from 250 to 500 calories per day. This equates to a half a pound to 1 pound of weight loss per week. Avoid going below 1200 calories at any time.
For men, avoid dropping below 1500 calories per day. Start by decreasing your calorie intake by 250 to 500 calories per day.
While this approach may seem “too slow” for people who want to lose weight fast, remember that behavior changes take time. You may be able to lose 14 pounds in two weeks on other diets, but it’s likely that you will also gain it back.
Decide now: lose weight and be healthy forever or lose weight now and gain it all back? If you choose the second option, then expect for the crazies to come back full force.
2. Stay Away from Certain Aisles
The inner part of the grocery store is where all the carbs, sugars, and irresistible food lives. Try your best not to go there and tempt yourself!
Stick to the outer rim of the grocery store where the fresh products are stored. Start with the produce section and work your way towards the meat, dairy, and eggs. If you opt to purchase grain products, then buy whole grain or multigrain items. Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta are all great choices!
3. Up Your Fiber and Water
Fiber helps to regulate our digestion systems and makes us feel fuller. It may scare you to eat items with fiber such as grains, vegetables or fruit, but our bodies still need it. Foods full of fiber also take longer for the body to digest leaving us feeling fuller for longer.
If you’re eating foods from the produce section and choosing whole, unrefined grains, then you’re well on your way to eating healthy and losing weight.
In addition to eating fibrous foods, up your water intake. The recommended amount is 64 oz per day, but this can vary based on your body. Another strategy is to aim for half of your weight in ounces of water per day.
Start small and gradually increase! Water can help you to feel fuller and curb cravings.
4. Manage Stress
You know the saying, “Desserts spelled backward is stressed.”
We all know too well after a hard day how it is so tempting to reach for a bowl of ice cream instead of our planned carrots and hummus snack. This is because sugar acts like a drug in the reward center of the brain, giving us comfort and pleasure.
Before you reach for the bowl of ice cream or get stressed in the first place, create a stress management “toolkit”. Your toolkit can simply be a list that you have on-hand with methods to reduce the stress that doesn’t involve snacking or binge eating carbs.
Some great stress management tools include meditation, relaxation techniques, calling a loved one, or going on a walk.
While the craving for ice cream may still be present, when you use another stress management technique like the ones listed, then your brain gets accustomed to not craving it as much. You also get the boost in confidence knowing that you can take control of your cravings, your waistline, and ultimately your life.
Living a healthy life means setting yourself up to make the best choices. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you to make good food-related decisions. New research also shows that people who don’t get adequate sleep are also at a higher risk for obesity.
When we are tired, our brains don’t function as well. The brain looks for a quick fix because its thinking abilities are lessened because of fatigue. So instead of opting for meal prepping a healthy meal, the sleepy brain says, “Let’s just get fast food.”
Adults should aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you are nowhere near this amount, then try to get to bed 30 minutes earlier each night.
6. Get Support
The truth is most of us know what we should and should not be eating, so why don’t we just do it? Sometimes our routines are so ingrained that breaking out of them may seem impossible. Getting a support group or accountability partner may help.
Sometimes the folks we surround ourselves also don’t eat well and may not be willing to change. While this can easily drive you crazy, try to find a support system who understands.
It’s likely that whoever you find to support you on your weight loss journey will also understand the obstacles you’re facing. By leaning on a support group, you can get the encouragement and advice you need to continue on.
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