Tip #21 – Serve Food from the Stove
If you’re in the habit of dishing up your plate at the dinner table, you may want to consider making food a little less accessible during meals. Instead of serving the food at the table, try leaving the food at the stove or placing it on the kitchen counter. When food is sitting all over the dining table, it’s much easier to overindulge. As soon as your plate is clean, there’s more food nearby to fill it again. But when you keep food away from the table, it takes additional action to go for seconds.
There may be times when you need to have more food because of true physical hunger. There’s no law about having a second helping. However, when you have to get up from the table to get it, you’ll have a little more time to think about it and make sure you really need it. This is just one way to break up old habits of automatically filling up your plate as soon as it’s empty. If you’ve had a long tradition of serving food from the table, this can be a habit that takes some getting used to.
However, you’ll find that your diet plan becomes easier as you become more mindful about your eating habits. Getting up to go get food from another location simply helps you to be more conscious about what it is you’re eating.
After eating your first helping of a meal, take a few minutes to think about how you’re feelings. It takes your brain a little more time than you may realize to get the signal from your stomach that your body is no longer hungry. If you make it a habit to wait about 15 minutes after your last bite before you go to get a second portion, you may find that you’re eating quite a bit less than you used to eat. Life is so busy and on-the-go that we sometimes forget to stop and actually enjoy a meal and feel hunger cues.
Moving the serving dishes to another room helps you to slow down and actually listen to your body. Instead of eating more food “because it’s there” you’ll make a wise decision about whether or not you really need another portion. When you do go for a second helping, try to focus most of your attention on vegetables. These are low calorie foods that provide a lot of nutrition. They also help you to feel full as they take up a lot of space in your digestive tract.
While it may seem strange at first, serving your food from the kitchen or another location will become easy after a short amount of time. Just like many other parts of your new diet plan, it will take some practice.
Tip #22 – Indulge on Occasion
Nothing is more dangerous for your diet than deprivation. If you insist on never eating any of the foods you enjoy, you are headed for trouble. One can only feel like he or she is missing out for so long. Eventually, feeling deprived can make you feel anxious, angry, and lead to out of control binging. The cycle goes something like this: You feel deprived, so you eat a large amount of a “forbidden” food. Then you feel guilty for what you’ve done and drown your sorrows in more of the off-limits contraband. This cycle can keep you from sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle faster than almost any other roadblock.
Diets that work best are those that include occasional treats. When you allow yourself to have the foods you crave, you don’t have to feel bad about eating them. You can enjoy them and then go back to your healthy plan. It’s hard for many people to wrap their brain around the idea that you can have your cake and your diet, too. In fact, if you don’t have some of the foods you enjoy on occasion, you’re more likely to binge and eventually just give up.
There’s no such thing as a food that’s forbidden. As soon as you do that, you’ll be on the road to self-destruction. To stick to your diet, you need to calculate favorite foods into your healthful eating formula. Some foods that feel like indulgences, even though they’re not, can help you to feel satisfied and crave fewer of the higher calorie, low nutrient foods. Some good things you may want to work into your diet plan include:
- Dark chocolate – a little dark chocolate can satisfy your sweet tooth and give you powerful antioxidants.
- Fruit – fruit is nature’s candy. It’s sweet, easy to eat and full of vitamins and minerals.
- Yogurt – flavored yogurts can help you to indulge your sweet tooth without expanding your waistline.
- Fat free pudding – this is a sweet treat that tends to be low in calories and high in flavor.
Eating these items will help you to regularly indulge your sweet tooth without blowing your diet. Then you’ll have a little wiggle room to enjoy a piece of chocolate cake or a chocolate chip cookie on occasion.
Tip #23 – Fill Up with Fiber
One of the best things you can do for your diet plan and, more importantly, your body’s overall health is to eat plenty of fiber. Fiber does many things for your body that make it an excellent addition to your diet plan. For example fiber helps:
- Fill up your digestive system and make you feel full
- Lower cholesterol
- Allow for regular bowel movements, relieves constipation
Fiber is an excellent way to help improve your health, but many people only get a tiny amount of fiber daily compared to what they actually need. In order to increase your fiber, you need to eat more plant-based foods and whole grains. Fiber can be found in:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain cereal
- Whole grain rice
- Legumes such as black beans, pinto beans, and navy beans
- Flax seeds
Foods that are not high in fiber include those made with wheat flour, white rice, and any animal product. While you don’t have to eliminate foods that are low in fiber from your diet, you need to make sure you’re adding plenty of foods that are high in this critical nutrient. Even adding one serving per day can help you to see a health benefit. Not sure how to get started with adding fiber? Make a simple switch from white bread to whole grain bread. Eat an apple. Grind up some flaxseed and add it to your cereal or yogurt.
Small steps will help you to stay on track. Adding fiber is simple, but powerful. If you want to feel full, lower your risk for heart disease and cancer, and have regular digestion you can’t beat the benefit of natural fiber.
Tip #24 – Focus on Addition – Not Subtraction
One of the first things people do when they approach is dieting is make a list of all the things they aren’t going to eat anymore. It can become immediately apparent that your new eating plan is going to cause you to have to subtract many of your favorite foods. It’s important to change your paradigm – or how you think about dieting. If your perspective is all about all the things you won’t be able to eat anymore, you’ll find yourself feeling deprived and that can lead to blowing your diet big time.
Instead, think about what you need to add to your diet. When you focus on adding healthy, nutritious foods it leaves less time for worrying about what you’re missing. By adding healthy items, you actually will crave some of the less nutritious foods less often. Some things you’ll need to add when dieting include:
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Whole grain foods
- Fiber sources such as flaxseeds and beans
- Lean meats
- Water, water, water
When you consume all of the servings you need of these foods your nutritional needs will be met. You’ll feel full and healthy and less likely to crave the foods that don’t fit in with your diet plan. When you focus on what you can’t have you increase the feeling of deprivation. When you focus on what you need to add you increase your feeling of fullness and wellbeing. Psychologically you can avoid the trap of blowing your diet and feeling guilty.
Your mindset is a critical component of making sure you eat healthy and take care of your body. While many people who diet only focus on calories in, calories out the mindset is something that cannot be ignored. Pay attention to how you’re feeling about your diet. Make a list of the things you need to add to your meals and you’ll find quickly that this improves the way you feel about changing your lifestyle.
Tip #25 – Eat Treats – But Not at Home
Earlier, you read the tip that said you should indulge from time to time. This is something that will make dieting much more bearable and help you to really change your lifestyle. However, keeping a lot of treats in the house can spell disaster. If you know that a bag of cookies can’t make it longer than a day in your home, you need to think about how you can indulge without overindulging. One of the easiest ways to do this is to indulge away from your home.
Instead of keeping your pantry stocked with the indulgences you love such as ice cream, cookies, cakes, and pies you can choose to enjoy them away from home. This way you can have the treats you love without having them all day every day. When you keep the extras out of your home environment, you can go somewhere else to enjoy them and then feel satisfied. When you get home your pantry is still filled with delicious foods that are good for your body.
Some ideas for indulging away from home include:
- Going out for an ice cream cone instead of having a half gallon of ice cream in the freezer.
- Enjoy a cupcake at your local bakery instead of baking a cake to keep at home.
- Have dessert at a restaurant instead of going home and eating dessert.
- Make plans to have dessert at a friend’s house instead of your own.
This can help you to enjoy indulging in your favorite desserts but not continue to indulge on them day and night. That said, you do have to make sure you’re not going out for ice cream every meal.
Dieting is really about changing your lifestyle. It’s not about becoming deprived. Allowing yourself to have some of your favorite foods is critical to success. But so is changing your home environment. Indulging away from home can help you to have the best of both worlds – your home environment can remain healthy and intact, but you won’t feel deprived and go off the deep end. You may want to make a weekly date to go out for dessert with a friend or with your significant other.
Knowing that you have something to look forward to each week can help you hang in there when you have a day that it’s tough to stick to your plan. Being aware that you don’t have to give up all your favorites will help you to stay on track.
Tip #26 – Eat the Right Amount at Restaurants
Eating out at restaurants in modern times can be a necessity and part of your everyday life. However, you already know that this can be a diet danger zone for many people. How can you enjoy eating at restaurants without giving up your favorite things? Try cutting back on portions. Restaurant portions often contain as many as 1000 calories or more! One meal at a restaurant can sometimes contain more calories than you want to consume in an entire day.
One way you can still enjoy restaurants while dieting is to cut back on your portions. Most restaurant meals can be divided into two or even three portions. When you order from the menu, you can ask the server to go ahead and bring you a takeout container. When your meal arrives at the table, you can pack up your leftovers before you even have the first bite of food. Once your leftovers are ready to go, you can clean your plate without going out of bounds on your diet plan.
Going to a restaurant can often bring feelings of anxiety. You may feel frustrated when you don’t get to choose your favorite items on the menu or have to have grilled or steamed sides instead of your usual choices. Instead of feeling frustrated, just eat less of what you love. Go ahead and order your favorite food, just don’t eat it all at once. The bonus is that when you take home leftovers you also have meals for the next day or two.
Another option if you and your significant other or a friend enjoy the same entrée is to split it. Instead of ordering an entrée for each of you, you can ask for an extra plate or for it to be divided. Not only will this save you the trouble of going out of bounds on your diet, it will also save you some serious money. You’ll see your calorie count be cut in half, but so will your final bill. Most restaurants don’t mind when customers split meals.
Some restaurants offer different portion sizes of popular entrees. For example, you can order a lunch portion or a half order of a meal. In fact, many restaurants will allow you to order off the lunch menu any time of day. When you go to your favorite restaurant and spend money on a meal, it should not be a time of anxiety but a time of enjoyment. When you make the decision to order your favorite foods and split the portions you can have fun instead of fretting.
Tip #27 – Move
It can be said often enough that you need to get moving. Moving your body can improve your health in so many ways. It can:
- Help you to lose weight
- Raise good cholesterol
- Condition your heart
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce your risk for cancer
- Help you to feel strong and allow you to move more easily
- Improve your mood and reduce depression
- Reduce your stress levels
Many people who diet don’t include exercise into the plan. Those who do include exercise often make the routine so rigorous that it isn’t realistic for the long haul. It’s critical that you include an activity plan you can stick to for a lifetime. Whether you’re new to exercise or a pro, there’s always something you can do to add more movement to your routine. Exercise can aid in keeping you on your diet plan and it can help you to feel better and have a longer life with higher quality.
If you’ve never spent much time worrying about exercise, there are many things you can do. If you’re the type of person who works out really hard and burns out quickly, you may want to take a look at the following moderate ways to add exercise to your life:
- Take a walk every evening after dinner – it doesn’t have to be fast or long if you’re not in great shape
- Walk in place, do sit ups, or stretch during TV commercials
- Take the stairs – if you can’t take them all the way to the floor you need, get off the elevator one floor earlier and at least go up one floor.
- Park in the back of parking lots and walk further to your destination
- Walk indoors on rainy days at the mall – most malls have early hours for morning walkers
Tip #28 – Slow Down and Enjoy Meals
In our busy, modern world it can be hard to take time to enjoy the simple things in life. For most working people lunch is quickly eaten so that you can get back to a busy schedule. However, for your diet success it’s best to slow down. When you eat slowly your body has time to understand its hunger signals. If you eat really fast your stomach doesn’t have time to tell your brain that it’s full. That’s why when you eat really quickly you end up feeling sick and stuffed 20 minutes later.
The best way to eat is to do it mindfully and slowly. There are a few things you can do to help you slow down at the dinner table. It can be a hard habit to break and you have to retrain your brain to do it differently.
- Put your fork down after each bite. This will help you to slow down a few seconds before the next bite.
- Chew each bite thoroughly. This is the first step of digestion. If you don’t get the food broken down well, it won’t digest properly.
- Take a sip of water between each bite. This will slow you down and help you to feel fuller.
- Enjoy dinner conversation.
The more you slow down when you eat, the easier time you’ll have sticking to the portions your diet requires. You’ll be able to feel satisfied with less food and enjoy meals more. Take time to really taste your food. Many times we rush through meals so much that we don’t enjoy the flavors and combinations that make them special and appetizing. When you slow down and enjoy your food you’ll find that your favorite foods can be savored even more.
Eating more slowly is also better for your digestion. When you scarf food down quickly it doesn’t get chewed thoroughly and it’s harder for the rest of your digestive tract to break it down. To get the most out of your food you want to get all the vitamins and nutrition from it. To do this, your body has to have the time to process it properly. In addition, eating more slowly just helps you to relax.
Use your mealtimes to take a break from the normal daily rush. Make this a time of meditation and pay attention to your hunger. Don’t eat to the point of feeling stuffed – take your time and enjoy each and every bite. If you do this, you’ll need fewer bites to be satisfied.
Tip #29 – Don’t Try to Change Everything at Once
You may really need a diet overhaul. If your someone who eats fast food at every meal, doesn’t know the last time you had a vegetable, and feels stuffed and sick after every meal chances are you need to make some big changes. But beware of making all the changes at one time. It’s difficult to change lifelong habit patterns. If you try to change everything at once it can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and eventually lead you to give up.
While making many changes at once may give you results faster, it may not lead to long-term results. It’s better to change one or two things at a time until those things become habits. Once they are habits you can make another change or two. Easing your way into a diet program can actually make you more successful. You’ll make a change, see success, and then be ready to make the next change. You’ll be able to implement each change as you form permanent habits.
Where do you begin when you have a lot of changes that need to be made? Start with those that are the simplest and that you feel you’re most likely to really commit. For example, if you eat almost every meal at a restaurant set a goal to eat one less meal out each week. If you live on diet soda, make a goal to trade out two glasses of soda with water each day. As you become successful at making that switch, try substituting a couple more. You don’t have to do it all at once – you just have to do it.
Don’t let other people try to sway you that gradual changes aren’t enough. For many people gradual changes are the only way to make lifelong choices. You don’t want to lose weight after a few months of dieting only to find that the changes you made aren’t realistic. This is how people lose huge amounts of weight only to gain it back plus more. They didn’t make lifelong changes – only short-term overhauls. Know that by going slow you will be making habits that will last the rest of your life.
Remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise took his time and won the race. It helps to look at dieting that way. You may be able to take off weight really fast, but if you aren’t taking your time and making steady changes you won’t keep it off in the end. Take a few moments to look at your current lifestyle and the type of diet you want to eventually have. Think about just one or two changes you can make that will help you to make those changes permanent. Then get started!
Tip #30 – Find a Mentor
We’ve already talked about having a buddy system, but sometimes it’s even more powerful to find a mentor. This is different than a buddy who’s trying to do the same thing. This means talking to someone who has already had the success you seek. Most of us know someone who has made big diet and lifestyle changes and lost weight. When you’re looking for a mentor, it’s important to find someone who has had success long-term. That means they’ve changed their lifestyle and kept those changes for several years.
Once you find someone that is willing to discuss their success with you and help you, you need to make sure to ask the right questions. Ask your mentor if you can interview him or her and get some valuable information. Questions you may want to ask include:
- What made you decide to change your diet and lifestyle?
- How did you get started?
- Did you join a program or go out on your own?
- What was the hardest change you had to make?
- How have you maintained your weight loss after all this time?
- What did you do when you became discouraged?
- What kind of physical activity have you done?
- What were your greatest temptations?
- When did you feel you succeeded?
- What is your best advice?
- What advice have you received that didn’t work for you?
Ask your mentor if you can give him or her a call when you’re struggling. It helps to have someone to talk to who has been there but has also made it through those tough times. Not everyone can lend the same kind of empathetic ear. Having a mentor can get you through the times when you’re struggling. It can help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It can also show you the end result when you’re feeling like you’ll never reach your goals.