Tip #31 – Eat Food the Way It Grew
When you’re on a diet, you may be tempted to load up on foods that are pre-prepared. Having a can or a box to go to when you’re pressed for time can be a relief. However, it’s not the best way for your body to get the nutrients it needs. The best way to eat your food is the way that it grew – in other words eat whole foods. That means that you should eat food that has been processed as little as possible before making it into your kitchen.
If a product is full of preservatives, is pre-cooked, has added sugar and colors it isn’t going to give you the nutrition it contained before all that processing. It’s best to do the processing yourself at home. While convenience foods offer a certain amount of, well, convenience they aren’t the best things for you. They come full of ingredients that you can’t pronounce and added things you just don’t need.
In general, here are some tips to help you choose whole foods:
- If the list of ingredients has words you can’t pronounce, pass it by.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, not those out of cans.
- If you can’t get fresh produce, go for frozen over canned. Frozen is the next best thing to fresh.
- Grow your own produce and freeze it.
- Look for meats that are organic or grass fed.
- Choose eggs that are from free range farms rather than caged. Look for grass fed if possible.
- Look for milk that is made from cows not treated with growth hormones.
- If it sounds like it was made in a lab instead of grown on a farm or ranch, leave it in the store.
When you eat foods that are as natural as possible, you allow your body to get the most of the nutrients in it. You won’t have a buildup of unnatural ingredients in your system. This will help you not only to lose weight but have better health.
Tip #32 – Get Your Zzzzs
Did you know that getting a good night’s sleep can actually help you to lose weight? Many people focus all of their efforts on diet and exercise but neglect one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being. People who don’t get enough sleep actually gain more weight than those who do. Research study after research study has shown this principle to be true. It’s thought that this has to do with the hormone cortisol and how it acts in the body.
What’s worse is that the type of fat that tends to accumulate when people lack sleep collects around the abdomen. This is the most dangerous area of the body to pack on the pounds because of the stress it puts on your heart. It can be pretty hard to get into a good nighttime routine when you’re used to burning the candle at both ends. But getting enough sleep isn’t only important for your weight- it can add years to your life.
Here are a few things you can do to improve your bedtime routine and get the sleep you need and deserve:
- Decide on a bedtime that gives you 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Go to bed even if you’re not tired. Eventually you’ll get in the habit of feeling tired and sleepy at the right time, but it may take a few days.
- Get a bedtime routine. Spend an hour or two before bed winding down. Dim the lights in your home, turn off the TV, take a warm bath, and relax.
- Make sure your pillow and mattress adequately support you. You’ll get a better night’s sleep if your body is comfortable.
- Keep clutter out of the bedroom – it can only remind you of all the things on your to-do list.
- It’s better not to have a TV in the bedroom as this keeps you from going to sleep.
- Don’t eat before bedtime – it makes it harder to fall asleep.
- Stay away from caffeine at least 3-4 hours before bed.
- Use white noise to prevent waking up from every little nighttime noise.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom if they disrupt your sleep
Tip #33 – Serve on Smaller Plates
If you need to eat less, using smaller plates will help to get the job done. For many people heaping up a large plate is just a normal part of everyday life. The more you can get on the plate, the better. While it can be tough to change that mentality altogether, it’s possible that you can just trick your brain into thinking that you’re still doing the same old thing by using smaller plates. You can go ahead and fill them up, but you won’t be getting as much food.
Most dinner plate sets come with salad plates and dinner plates. If you don’t want to add to your dish collection, you can just use your salad plates. These tend to be quite a bit smaller, though, so may not be ideal. You can find plenty of shops that sell plates slightly larger than salad plates and smaller than dinner plates. You can often find them for sale individually rather than having to buy an entire new set.
It may seem like a silly idea to just use smaller plates, but it really does work. It will trick your mind into thinking you’ve got more than you really need when in actuality you have less than you normally do. Not sure if this will work for you? Before investing much money in new plates, try using smaller paper plates to give it a trial run. If it doesn’t seem to work for you, no harm done and not much of an investment wasted.
When eating out, you can always ask that your server deliver a smaller plate and you can choose smaller plates when it comes to eating at restaurant buffets. When you’re at another person’s home, you’ll have to use your best judgment. This isn’t a magic bullet for suppressing your appetite. As you know, you can always make another trip or two or three to fill up the small plate. However, it can be one more weapon to have in your arsenal of weight loss.
Another consideration is plate color. Some studies have shown that eating on black or dark plates can help you to eat less per meal. While you’re out looking for smaller plates, try purchasing one that’s dark in color and double the effect. Using smaller plates is definitely a consideration that can help you to keep your portion sizes manageable. It doesn’t hurt to do a little psychological trickery when you’re trying to win the diet battle.
Tip #34 – Pay Attention to Progress
When you’re dieting, it can be easy to get fixated on the numbers that show on the scale. However there are so many ways you can track your progress – your weight is just a piece of the puzzle. There are many benchmarks that can actually help you to see how far you’ve come and how much further you have to go. You don’t have to rely only on a scale. In fact you shouldn’t only rely on the scale.
Several factors that have nothing to do with your diet can affect the scale readout including:
- Time of day
- Water retention
- Clothing you’re wearing (although many prefer to weigh in the buff)
- Medications you’re taking
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Body composition changes- adding more muscle to your frame
For these reasons, the scale can deliver a damaging blow when you really deserve a pat on the back. It’s important to make sure and use a few other methods for measuring your progress. You’ll find that other methods can make a more complete picture.
Here are a few things you can do in addition to measuring your weight on the scale:
- Take pictures. Before pictures compared with weekly photos can show you how far you’ve come. Keep a small photo album and take a new photo each week to add to it.
- Track measurements. Use a tape measure to keep track of your progress and record it in your journal.
- Pay attention to how your clothes fit. If they’re getting looser, you’re doing the job.
- Keep track of how much distance you can walk/run or how much weight you can lift. This can show you that you’re becoming stronger and more powerful.
- Be mindful of your energy levels. If they’re going up, you’re making progress.
Tip #35 – Drive Right by the Drive Thru
While there’s no one single factor than can contribute to weight gain and make dieting difficult, drive thru restaurants have certainly made it more convenient to pack on the pounds. It’s not the fault of the restaurant that you’ve gained weight, but you may have some habits to break. What’s the appeal of fast food?
- It’s full of salt, fat, and sugar – three things we have been evolutionarily conditioned to seek (they don’t occur very often in nature, so we are hard-wired to get them when we can)
- You’re busy. It’s fast.
- It offers a wide variety of foods to appeal to different people.
- It’s an inexpensive way to feed yourself and your family – dollar menu anyone?
While not every selection on a fast food menu is bad for you, it’s safe to say that most of them are. The easiest way to break the drive thru habit is just to quit cold turkey. Keep food on hand that you can make quickly so that you don’t feel the need to stop for a quick bite.
However, in the real world you sometimes have to stop for something fast. In that case, you can always look for the best choices on the menu. Focusing on fresh or grilled items as well as small portions can help. If you have to hit the drive-thru, here are some things to remember:
- Look for grilled sandwiches instead of fried
- Eat a smaller burger instead of a double
- Eliminate the cheese from sandwiches
- Choose salads with low calorie/fat dressing
- Skip the fries or get a small
- Avoid the temptation to supersize unless you want to be supersized, too
- Drink water instead of soda with your meal
- Get the kids meal – automatically smaller portions
- Substitute fries for fruit if it’s an option
Tip #36 – Reduce Your Stress to Reduce Your Waistline
Stress is something with which just about everyone must learn to live. But stress can really wreak havoc on your diet. Stress can cause you to have all kinds of health problems. When it comes to your diet, stress can get in the way. When it comes to your diet and weight, here are a few things that stress can do:
- Stress can cause you to hold onto fat even when you’re eating properly
- Stress can cause you to want to eat more to satisfy emotional needs
- When you’re stressed, your sleep is affected
- Stress can lead to feeling tired and having low energy levels, things that often trigger eating badly
- A busy, stressful life can cause you to have to eat on the go and leave little time for preparation of meals
As you can see, stress is not a dieter’s best friend. Instead, you need to find ways to reduce your stress levels and outlets for the stress you can’t completely remove from your life. Here are a few things you can do to reduce stress and stick to your diet:
- Focus on time management – when you stay organized and manage your time, your stress levels will get lower
- Get rid of unnecessary tasks. If you’re able to delegate a task, do it.
- Take time to exercise daily – exercise can lower the effects of stress on the body.
- Seek help if you have emotional needs that require assistance – problems with anger management, substance abuse, and depression can be alleviated with help.
- Plan a time at least once a week for social activities.
- Join a club that meets once a month – this can greatly improve your emotional health.
- Face the problems that are causing you to feel stress. For example, if you’re having financial troubles it actually makes things worse to just ignore them. You’ll always feel better if you just face facts and take action.
- Find a hobby you enjoy.
Tip #37 – Do Away with Dinner Distractions
How many things are going on when you’re eating your meals each day? Do you have the TV on? Are you trying to take care of work or make big decisions about your household? Do you have a million things going on all around you? If you have a lot of activity in your home during mealtimes, it could lead to overeating. It’s had to stay on a diet program and lifestyle change when you aren’t really focused on what you’re putting in your body.
Being distracted will keep you from being able to pay attention to your hunger cues, portion sizes, and the health of your meal. It will also cause you to eat faster and can lead to making bad choices. Instead, you need to focus on your food when you’re eating a meal. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you stick to your diet and keep you on track:
- Keep the TV away from mealtimes. While it’s tempting to watch TV and eat your meals, it can be very distracting.
- Choose a place in your home designated for eating meals – the dining room table is a great choice.
- Make a commitment to only eat in a designated place. This means that even if you’re eating alone you will stop and eat in a specific place.
- When eating, focus on your hunger cues. Do you still feel hungry? Are you satisfied?
- When possible, eat with your entire family. This helps to bring social connection and keep everyone in the household focused on the meal.
- Don’t use mealtimes to argue serious matters or make big decisions. It’s a great time to catch up on the day, but it shouldn’t be used for major issues that distract from the food.
- Make every meal an occasion. Use real dishes, real cutlery, and honor the time you’re spending with your food.
Using mealtimes to focus on food instead of the million other things going on in your life will allow you to stick to your diet program. Instead of feeling distracted, you will be able to pay attention to the food you’re eating and feed your body properly.
Tip #38 – Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is one of those things that people love and don’t think much about when it comes to dieting. But alcohol is a source of many calories that can be a big problem for sticking to your plan. You may want to just completely avoid alcohol when you’re dieting. A lot like soda, it’s a source of empty calories. And while some studies show positive health benefits from drinking, you’d be hard pressed to find a doctor to recommend drinking to someone who abstains.
In addition, alcohol’s power lies in its ability to impair judgment. When you’re trying to make good choices about your health intoxication isn’t generally helpful. The more you drink the less you will think about the calories you’re consuming. Not only will you drink a lot of calories, alcohol consumption lends itself to eating more calories in food as well. Most social occasions where alcohol is available also have food available. One naturally leads to the other.
If you simply must consume alcohol, there are some things you can do to reduce the affect it has on your diet program.
- Don’t forget to account for the calories you consume when you drink.
- Drink a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage.
- Look for low calorie alcoholic options.
- Limit yourself to one or two drinks – this keeps the calorie count low and keeps your judgment from becoming very impaired.
- Ask a friend to keep you accountable about your alcohol consumption
- Choose low calorie snacks when consuming alcoholic beverages
- Limit yourself to one night in a week that you will partake of alcohol
- Don’t center social activities around alcohol
If you really enjoy drinking and it’s a big part of your social life, cutting back or eliminating it can be difficult to do. However, you will see the results as you track your weight and measurements. The less you drink, the more you’ll lose.
Tip #39 – Create a Vision Visual
When you start a diet it’s easy to feel motivated. But a few weeks in you may start to feel lackluster and lack the same drive with which you began. It’s helpful to keep a reminder around that helps you to remember what it is that got you started. Your vision for yourself is something that can help you to have the drive to keep going. You need to have a vision of where you would like to see yourself in the future. This includes your appearance, but can also include other factors.
Creating a vision board is one tool that can help you to stay on track. It’s pretty easy to get started:
- Think about the things that motivated you to lose weight.
- Think about how your vision for your future.
- Cut out pictures from magazines that represent your future goals.
- Think about not only your weight but also factors like energy, strength, health, and mood.
- Purchase a large board to use for your vision board – poster board, canvas, or foam board work well.
- Gather an adhesive such as rubber cement – glue sticks don’t stick permanently.
- Next set yourself free to make a collage that represents where you see yourself in the future.
If you’re not familiar with vision board exercises, this may seem hokey to you. However, it’s very powerful to have a visual representation of what you really want for your life. Keeping your vision board in a place where you’ll see it often can help you to stay motivated to diet. You can also keep smaller reminders in places where you spend a lot of time. For example, leave yourself small notes in your office or car to help you visualize your future. This will help to anchor you with your mission.
Occasionally take inventory and see if what you’re doing is actually helping you get to your vision. If you have behaviors or actions that aren’t contributing to your vision, it’s time to eliminate them. A vision board can give you that visual cue you need to work toward your goals for yourself. If you keep it in a central location of your home it will help to guide the decisions you make and help you to achieve your dreams.
Tip #40 – Grow Your Own
When it comes to changing your lifestyle, one of the most important things you can do is add fresh produce to your diet. But sometimes there are factors such as the cost of fresh produce that can affect your ability to do this. You may also be concerned about the use of pesticides and harmful fertilizers to the food supply. Buying organic produce can help to reduce the contamination of food, but it’s even more expensive than average fruits and vegetables.
One solution to this problem is to grow your own food. Many people are turning to gardening in order to add inexpensive produce to their diet and to make sure the food they are eating is the highest quality possible. In addition, fresh produce from your own backyard is very delicious. You can’t get any fresher than walking out your back door and picking something straight off the plant. If you’ve never had homegrown fruits and vegetables you’ll be amazed at how delicious they are.
No matter where you live, there’s always an option for growing your own food. Here are a few tips to get started on gardening.
- Find a sunny spot to plant. If you have a backyard, choose a place that has few trees, is level, and is convenient.
- Try building raised beds if your soil is not conducive to growing.
- If you live in an apartment, try container gardening. Many plants have been bred for container gardening and others are naturally conducive to it. Tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, and herbs are just a few of the possibilities.
- If you don’t have outdoor space for gardening, try growing an indoor herb garden. You’ll save tons of money on fresh herbs.
- Share with a neighbor – you can each grow different plants and swap.
- Use compost for fertilizer – it’s easy to start a compost pile and you won’t waste as much.
- Grow foods you like, but don’t be afraid to try a few new varieties.
- Involve children and other family members. The greater their participation, the more likely it will be that they will also improve their diet.
By growing your own food you’ll have access to fresh produce. You can freeze or can the extra harvest that you have so you can use it all year long.