Everybody wants to lose weight, but not go on a diet because dieting is somewhat synonymous with starving and restraining ourselves from all foods delicious. Very few people actually eat to lose weight. Ironically, the perfect diet for healthy weight loss is none other than eating. Clean, healthy, moderate, smart eating. Knowing what and how to eat means supplying our body with all the nutrients it needs so it can properly regulate itself. Balance in the body reflects itself as good health and includes a healthy, steady body weight as well.
Many of the first weight loss diets ever developed are still being used today for losing weight. Most of them are based on the principle of food restriction because, naturally, cutting down on our calorie intake automatically leads to us losing weight and the more restrictive the diet, the more visible the weight loss. But when these diets end, and they do so quickly because no body can withstand food deprivation happily for long, we go back to our normal eating habits and gain the weight back. Eating right is the first step towards regulating our metabolism and losing extra weight our body doesn’t actually need for anything, as well as the ideal diet for healthy, long-term weight loss.
There is no quick fix to anything, not even weight loss. Short-term diet plans that take us out completely and suddenly out of our eating comfort zone usually do not produce long-term effects, nor health benefits. If the diet is temporary, its effects will be temporary as well and we will most likely gain back the weight we have lost, but also stress out our body in the meantime. If we do have extra weight, losing it should come naturally and almost effortlessly and be a result of healthy and balanced eating, not of not eating.
My whole life I carried a few extra pounds that I felt did not belong and struggled getting rid of them for years until I realized that I had to unlearn and relearn eating and let my body decide how much weight I needed to lose. It took me about two years to learn to eat right, but I have lost about 10 kilograms and have maintained a steady weight for several years now without any effort. I am slim, I eat everything I like, I am healthier and happier, more active and energetic, I have a more balanced metabolism and no longer fear gaining weight because I know I eat right.
Here are 9 things I learnt about how to lose weight healthy and feel great:
1) Eat slowly. Our body knows exactly how much we should eat, but it takes some time for it to communicate to us that it’s had enough food. Eating slowly gives our mouth, stomach and brain time to sync and prevent us from overeating and gaining weight. Chewing slowly, taking time between bites, becoming conscious of what we eat and simply enjoying our food can help us eat more slowly and keep a slim figure.
2) Eat little and often. Eating three main meals and one or two snacks a day is a somewhat outdated eating plan, especially considering that people nowadays have lengthier schedules keeping them out of the house for longer hours. Three bigger meals often have us filling up on food so we don’t starve until our next main meal, increasing the chances we overeat. Eating little and often is more efficient and less stressful.
Eating smaller amounts of food but more often means we don’t fill up, risking feeling heavy or unwell, we can divide our calorie intake easier and be able to actually burn more of the calories we take in regularly throughout the day because we would give our body the chance to make more efficient use of them, further aiding with weight loss. In addition to this, it’s easier to plan and enjoy a smaller meal than a bigger, more complex one, as well as less likely we skip it.
3) Small portion sizes. Eating little and often also means we have to reduce our portion size. What I find helps me is eating in small dishes, the smaller the better. Even if you fill them up with food, you still don’t eat too much because of their already small size. Nevertheless, irrespective of the size of my plate, I never fill it up completely. Small portions are very helpful in managing calorie intake and the volume of food we ingest and can prove a particularly helpful tool in weight loss. I always remember what somebody once told me: if your plate is full, you are eating more than you need to.
4) Eating home cooked meals. What I find helped me the most throughout my struggle with healthy eating and weight loss was eating home cooked meals. This is probably the healthiest habit I clung onto because it helps me keep track of what I eat and how much I eat. You never actually know what you get when having take out or going to a restaurant, but cooking your own food allows you to have the utmost control.
There is also a lot more variety when you cook food yourself, not to mention that you have the certainty that what you are eating is fresh and does not contain preservatives and other such problematic compounds that can interfere with good nutrition and your body’s ability to gain or lose weight as needed. Plus, cooking our own food takes up time and attention so we don’t get to eat mindlessly out of a bag.
5) Never finish food and never fill up. As good as food might be, remember that you can always eat it again. Actually, when I like a dish too much, I cook it often so when I eat it I never fill my plate or stomach with it. Surprisingly, this doesn’t make the dish less delicious, it only makes me happier to eat it more often and I appreciate good food more without filling up on it. As a general rule, when I put my fork down, I always have to feel there is still some room, air, call it as you wish, in my stomach.
6) Satisfy cravings in a smart way. I always try to be straightforward with myself: if I crave a certain type of food, it is best I eat it because frustration tends to build up and I may end up overeating and compromising my efforts. But I also try to be smart about it. When I crave something sweet, I have some chocolate or chocolate spread or honey. One or two tablespoons and I’m happy and ready to put the lid back on the jar. The foods we crave and eat don’t have to be the most dietetic ones, especially when we will only eat small portions, just healthier. Our body gets it right away that protein is protein, fat is fat and sugar is sugar. That’s why it gets easy to have healthy food in the house and not crave unhealthy junk food, as long as you do satisfy food cravings.
7) Rewire your thinking. Clean eating, healthy eating, good nutrition can mean eating the most delicious of foods in sufficient amounts and feeling happy and satisfied about it while having a healthy weight. Diets that are too restrictive, have us feeling hungry or too tired, don’t allow us to satisfy natural food cravings or force certain foods on us make us miserable, overeat and crave cheat days and unhealthy rewards. Instead, we should focus on eating right, clean, varied and balanced and make this a way of life and weight loss, if needed, will come naturally.
8) Persevere and don’t stress. Healthy eating doesn’t come easy. It takes time to unlearn unhealthy eating habits and learn to appreciate real food. Circumstances may have us fall back on bad habits simply because poor eating choices are often more available to us. We may lose focus for a while, forget why we are trying to eat healthier. But making a mistake doesn’t compromise healthy eating as a whole, nor does it prevent us from losing weight ever gain. It is far more important to not stress over small failures, but focus on getting back on the right path. Persevere.
9) Avoid restrictive diets. Diets forcing lettuce or lemon juice on us won’t make our stomach flatter or flush out toxins just like that. Diets restricting carbohydrates can easily have us overeating protein and fats, because the two come together. Excluding even one food or class of foods from our diet can mean depriving ourselves of essential nutrients our body needs and exposing ourselves to various health risks in the future because our health depends on the vitamins and minerals in our food. There is no miracle-diet for instant, long-lasting and healthy weight loss, only healthy eating.
Our body works from within to help us achieve good health and we have to help it by eating right. Not eating in order to lose weight means working against our body and ourselves and is only a failed attempt at a shortcut. Clean, healthy, reasonable eating is not only easier to entertain than restrictive, short-term diets, but also produces the most visible and long-lasting results in terms of healthy weight loss. Remember that change needs time to take place and even more time to become visible to us, especially when it comes to losing weight.