From shifting your mindset to eating more veg, here are the the simple daily habits that will help you to lose weight (and keep it off for good), according to dietitian Melissa Meier.
If your goal is to lose weight, you might be considering a drastic lifestyle overhaul. Cut out chocolate, give up alcohol, stop eating biscuits, say adios to hot chips, start running 10 kilometers a day… you get the drift. And while that sounds like a failsafe way to shed kilos, I’d put money on it not lasting very long, because such drastic changes just aren’t sustainable.
When it comes to lasting weight loss, what’s far more important are the healthy habits you build up and stick to for good, rather than the short bursts of restriction that never really get you anywhere. To help shift your mindset, here’s seven habits that’ll help your body reach its healthiest weight (and stay there, long term). No silly restrictions or fads in sight.
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1. Ignore ‘all or nothing’
Healthy living isn’t about extremes. Truth is, you can eat ice cream, pastries and cakes (or whatever your favourite food is) and still be in tip top shape – so it’s time to shift your mindset and drop the guilt around food. As long as your diet is built on a foundation of core wholefoods (think: veg, legumes, wholegrains), there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your favourite treats every now and then. Remember, all foods fit.
2. Ramp up the veg
I’m sure this isn’t news to you, but veggies are oh-so-good for you. They’re packed with gut-loving fibre, disease-fighting antioxidants and a range of vitamins and minerals (there’s a reason your mum forced you to eat them when you were a littlely).
Most veggies are also ultra-low in kilojoules, so they’re a real winner with weight loss in mind. Work on building meals based on veggies, rather than the traditional protein and carb-heavy way of doing it. Veggies should actually make up 50 per cent of every single main meal you eat, regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not.
3. Treat yo’self
Feelings of deprivation will derail healthy eating, so it’s important to treat yourself occasionally without feeling bad about it. Let me be clear, I’m not telling you to demolish a block of chocolate on the lounge every single night just because you enjoy it. What I am telling you is to listen to your body, and when you truly have a hankering for your favourite ‘sometimes’ food, enjoy a sensible portion mindfully, and move on.
4. Forget about what you ‘can’t’ eat
The second you tell yourself you can’t eat something, you instantly crave that food *so* much more. You know what it’s like – you tell yourself you can’t eat ice cream, so all of a sudden, all you want to eat is ice cream. Eventually, you give in, eat a whole tub, and feel awful about yourself.
So you start restricting yourself again, and the cycle repeats itself over and over. It’s rather counterproductive, right? For this reason, I’d encourage you to let go of food rules – stop telling yourself you ‘can’t’ eat X, Y and Z. You can eat whatever you want, if you truly feel like it. Got it? Good.
5. Practice portion control
Portions. Portions. Portions. You’ve heard it all before, but portion control is one of *the* most important facets of weight management. With a goal to shed kilos, it’ll pay to get clued up on what a sensible portion of different foods are, and how much you should have each day. To save me explaining it, you can find a great breakdown here and here (tip: read both).
6. Plan your snacks
Snacks get a bad rap, but it’s not exactly warranted. Yes, chips, chocolate, ultra-processed bars and salty crackers aren’t my idea of a healthy between meal bite, but there are plenty of foods you can enjoy between meals that will do your health a world of good. I like to think of snacks as an opportunity to get more nutrition into the day. Think: fruit, yoghurt, a handful of raw nuts and seeds. A well-portioned snack will keep hunger pangs at bay, which can only be a good thing with a goal to lose weight.
7. Get moving
Food is just one factor in a weight loss crusade – exercise is of utmost importance. Not only does getting sweaty help to burn calories, it also builds muscle, which in turn increases your metabolism. If you’re not a gym-junkie, don’t fret – there’s plenty you can do to move your body that counts as exercise.
Find something you like, and stick to it, and you’ll be much better off than forcing yourself to do a workout you hate every damn day. On top of losing weight, exercise will also boost your mental health, make you feel more energised and even help you to sleep better. As the saying goes, exercise is medicine.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.