Food is great; it can make you feel energized, comforted, soothed and downright joyful (with the right piece of chocolate). But gone unchecked, an obsession with food can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and lasting side effects.
Most people cringe when they hear the word “diet” because it’s synonymous with giving up the treats we love most. But you don’t need to diet to lose weight; you simply need to make better choices.
There are a few secrets medically proven to help boost your metabolism and curtail any unwanted weight gain. Make these habits your own, and you’ll be sure to see a drastic change in your physical appearance and overall wellness.
1. Eat appropriate portions.
I know what you’re thinking, but eating smaller portions sizes does not mean you’re dieting. It means you’re not binging.
The National Institute of Health found meal portions have increased drastically in the last 20 years, to accommodate our supersized lifestyle. The result? Higher caloric intakes.
For instance, a box of popcorn 20 years ago was approximately 270 calories, compared to 630-calorie tub you get at the movies today.
WebMD put together a guide to help you specify your recommended portions based on food item, but generally comparable sizes include that of a baseball or deck of cards. Anything more than that may be more than what your body needs.
2. Eat more often.
As a trade-off for eating appropriately-sized meals, you get to eat more frequently during the day. Instead of eating the bulk of your daily food intake in one sitting, spread it out and have healthy snacks throughout the day.
This will keep your body constantly processing food, instead of storing it as fat for a rainy day. It will also help you feel fuller come mealtime.
3. Wean yourself off soda.
Research has shown a clear association between soft drink intake and body weight. Soda has also been associated with a host of other problems, including lower intakes of other nutrients and an increased risk of medical problems, including diabetes.
Try to wean yourself off soda. Opt for bottled water, or ask for a courtesy cup if the facility doesn’t provide any. If they have a soda machine, they have tap water. And it’s always a better option for your body and your wallet.
4. Same goes for fast food.
We don’t need to go into the nitty-gritty details of meat processing in the fast-food industry to know it’s just not the best thing out there for you. Eating fast food two or more times a week is doing your body a grave disservice.
You can still eat a burger, but one made on your own grill will be much better for you in the long run.
5. Fill up on healthier items.
There’s a reason restaurants give you loads of bread upon arrival. It's so you feel full while waiting for your meal, and you're satisfied when you leave, no matter your entrée.
But it’s a trick! Most are just empty calories that offer you nothing in return. Instead, fill up on healthier items like a soup or salad, and you’ll find you’re eating more food while simultaneously cutting back the pounds.
6. Trash your food.
Have you ever hesitated while eating, putting your fork down because you feel full? That is usually a good sign to stop. However, most of us take that as an opportunity to unbutton our pants, take a deep breathe and go in for every last bite.
Resist the urge. No matter what your mother told you, you don’t have to clean your plate.
Feel free to wrap up the rest of your meal for lunch the next day. If there’s not enough to save, and you find yourself picking at food simply because it’s there, trash it. Pour the closest condiment — ketchup, salt, vinegar — all over your plate, and top it with your used napkin or linen.
There’s no going back after that point.
7. Drink more water.
Drinking water makes you lose weight for two simple reasons: It makes you feel full and has zero calories. Not to mention, the health benefits for your skin and digestive system are significant.
There’s no downside. Carry around a bottle wherever you go, and make it a point to sip throughout the day.
8. Go for the good stuff.
There’s a huge issue in our nation right now about affordable access to healthy food options, and for good reason. Cuts of meat with less fat or organic produce are always more costly than their lower-end counterparts.
Still, they may very well be worth the splurge. If you’re looking to cut back on weight gain with minimal sacrifice, simply upgrade to a higher grade or leaner cut for subtle but noticeable results.
9. Eat with your eyes.
We know you want to eat all the food, so trick your body into thinking you did. Instead of serving yourself on a large plate with room for garnish and anything else you might want to pile on, serve yourself on a smaller plate that looks like it's overflowing.
10. Get more sleep.
As if you needed another reason to press the snooze button, studies show a lack of sleep is directly linked to weight gain. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body needs more energy to stay awake, causing you to eat more.
So, rest up!
Ditch the diet, and embrace healthier habits. You’ll be sure to see a more dramatic and lasting difference in the long run.