In our current society, where we’re constantly told contradicting advice, surrounded by food and diet trends within what seems to be an exponentially growing health and fitness industry, finding simple and effective ways to successfully lose weight may be harder than you’d think.
A recent article published by the Houston Methodist clearly summarises five simple tips, perfect for anyone who is dieting.
Kristen Kizer, a clinical dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital, notes “We live in society that believes lower calorie food means more weight loss and ultimately better health…while this is true in some respects, to be successful at both losing weight and keeping it off, it’s important to focus on the nutritional value, not just calorie value, of your food.
1. Focus on real foods
I.e., foods that could have been eaten 200 years ago before the rise of the processed type. Kizer recommends thinking of foods on a spectrum based on how processed they are. For example, an apple is a real food, apple-sauce is partly processed but okay, whereas an apple toasted pastry is very processed.
According to Kizer, in addition to their nutritional quality – helping to keep the body in check – real foods will help dieters feel better and even sleep better. However, she emphasises to bear in mind the ingredients list; if they cannot be bought in a store, or even pronounced, chances are the food isn’t as real as it claims to be.
2. Stop when you’re full
Kizer mentions that once food is swallowed, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the body to register it. Therefore, remembering to eat slowly and mindfully may help with this stomach-to-brain-delay. She suggests thinking of hunger on a scale from one to ten–one being starving and ten being painfully full, “Check in with your hunger scale often… time meals and snacks accordingly so to avoid prolonged hunger and overeating”.
3. Everything in moderation
More often than not, our eyes are bigger than our stomach. If you’ve ever travelled to America, you may have noticed (it’s hard not to) the enormous portion sizes they give you at restaurants. However, they’re certainly not the only ones to suffer from this.
Kizer recommends that if you’re out at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to split a meal with a friend. Or, when at home, serve yourself on a smaller plate to give yourself the illusion of eating just as much.
Drinking water can help control hunger, as it engages sensors in the stomach that make you feel fuller longer. It’s common to mistake hunger for thirst, so simply staying hydrated can eliminate these feelings of needing to constantly eat. Kizer suggests having a full glass of water before or between meals will help to induce a feeling of fullness.
5. Aim for a lifestyle change
Although short-term (fad) diets may sound appealing – they simply are not sustainable. Kizer notes that whether it’s conscious or not, there is often a mentality of going back to old behaviours once the target weight is reached. Furthermore, lifestyle changes begin in the mind and are much more successful in the long run. Kizer suggests starting with small changes that you can live and are interesting in making. Having a strong why behind the changes you are making will also help the process.
“More often than not, we know what we should do,” Kizer says. “The hard part is implementing something that works for us. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Aim for one change at a time.”