Long-term weight loss and maintenance is all about changing your eating habits. With the right lifestyle choices, you’ll find it much easier to get to your ideal weight. There’s no need to feel like you’re missing out and you can find it much easier to keep the weight off in the long term.
Changing your habits is about retraining yourself. It’s possible to overcome the sugar cravings and stop feeling the need to snack throughout the day. However, you need to want the change. It’s important to focus on that goal in the long term and want to do this for you.
With some helpful tips, you can find improving your eating habits and change your lifestyle much easier. This isn’t about doing everything in one go but taking things one step at a time to improve your eating habits for weight loss.
Here are nine helpful tips you’ll want to follow. They’re all possible for everyone.
Get Your Mindset Right
One of the biggest factors in weight loss is your mindset. If you’re not changing your habits for you, it’s going to be much harder to stick to a plan. This is something that you must want to do, not just do it because other people tell you. It doesn’t matter how much people tell you that it’s worthwhile. If you don’t want it, you’re not going to stick to the plan. You’ll find reasons to “fall” off the wagon.
Start by getting your mindset in the right place. It’s okay to say that it’s not your time right now. Think about why it’s not the right time for you. What’s holding you back?
As you assess your reasons you’re not interested in losing weight or changing your eating habits, you’ll start to learn more about who you are and what you want in life. Suddenly it will all click in place, the reasons stop, and you’ll be on track for a healthier and happier you.
With your mindset in the right place, you’re ready to move onto the other eight tips.
Keep a Food Journal
Write down absolutely everything that you eat. You want to track each meal and snack. There are a few popular sayings, especially with some of the weight loss clubs. Keep in mind:
- If you bite it, write it;
- If you snack it, track it;
- If you grab it, blab it;
- If you lick it, Bic it;
- Grab your pencil before your utensil;
With those sayings, you’ll keep in mind that everything you consume needs to be written down. There are a few ways that you can track. Some people prefer a paper journal, while others will want to do it all on their phone. There’s no right or wrong way, if you follow through with tracking daily.
By writing it all down, you become more conscious of the food you eat. You’ll learn more about your portion sizes and look at your snacks more accurately. You may even see where some of the empty calories are coming from. You’ll be surprised at how much you can sabotage your diet if you don’t write it all down.
The tracking also helps you get into other good habits. You can track your water intake, the way you feel during the day, and any cravings you have. This is good to help understand more about how food makes you feel and what you do when you feel down.
As you track more often, you’ll also find it easier to look back. You’ll find meals that you enjoyed and were easy to cook. It’s easier to figure out what to do when you feel like giving up. This is also a good place to put your goals and mindset for the week, giving you positives and negatives to look back over to help you move forward.
Put Your Goals Somewhere You Will See
Writing your goals down in your journal is good, but you want to make sure you see them every day. There are a few ways that you can do this, and it will depend on your goals.
One of your goals may be to fit into a certain dress. You may have a goal to look like a photo from the past. Your goal may be more negative—in the way that you don’t want to go back to looking like something. Whatever your goals are, put them somewhere you’ll see them to keep you motivated, especially on the days that feel hard.
You can put the picture on your desk to remind you of the push to look a certain way. Your dress can hand on the back of your bedroom door, so you see it every morning for motivation. If you have goals about eating certain foods or drinking more water, you can put the reminders on your fridge or near your computer.
Find something that works for you!
Do Your Grocery Shop While Full
One of the best habits to get into is timing your grocery shop. Don’t go for food when you’re hungry. Even if you have the intention of only sticking to the shopping list, you will start to deviate. Those extra offers and the items at the end of aisles will make you feel hungrier, and you’re more likely to pick them up.
Of course, the items that are on offer aren’t the ones that you want to add to your diet. They’re the high-calorie foods that offer no nutritional benefits at all.
When you go a shop while full, you’re not going to find the sweet foods and junk food as appealing. In fact, you may even turn your nose up at it. Instead, you’ll find it much easier just to buy the items on your list. You’ll not get the cravings throughout the shop, so you’re happy to buy all the healthier options.
Make sure you do go on your shopping trip with a list. Write down only the items you need and try to stick to that list. Deviating from it once will give you a reason to deviate from it again. The only time you’ll want to deviate is when you’ve forgotten cleaning products, or you’re buying one item on the list in bulk because you will genuinely save money in the long term. Even then, you want to try to plan for something like that to avoid buying off the list.
Set Regular Times for Your Meals
Try to avoid eating out of sync with your body. If you skip breakfast one day or keep changing the hours that you consume food, you will struggle to lose weight. This isn’t about the whole metabolism changing; it’s all about the way your brain works.
Way back in the past, we didn’t know when and where our food would come from. Our system is still set up with that type of life in mind, despite food being plentiful for most people.
If we don’t eat for a few hours, our bodies start to wonder where the next meal will come from. It goes into a panic and starts forcing us to crave junk food; it wants something quick that will tide it over just in case it doesn’t get a meal. Therefore, when you start feeling hungry, you end up craving the sweet foods. Your body wants the sugar to keep it going for the time being.
However, giving into those cravings means feeding yourself empty calories. You can get into a habit to avoid that.
Opt for regular meal times instead. Rather than three large meals and two snacks a day, opt for five to six regular small meals spaced throughout the day. Opt for three to four-hour intervals between meals, as this is the optimal time before the body starts to worry about where the next meal will come from.
Have Healthy Snacks on Hand
Of course, there’s no need to cut out all snacking entirely. There will be times that you want treats to finish your meal or you need to get through emotional patches.
Rather than fight against emotional eating, work with it. Create a healthy habit that will allow you to feel like you’re feeding the beast, but you’re doing it in a good way. Make sure you have some healthy snacks on hand.
One of the best options to overcome emotional eating is popcorn. You want plain popping kernels that you can add your toppings on. Opt for some five spices, chili flakes, or even some paprika to kick your popcorn. The spices and herbs are excellent for giving your popcorn flavor without all the extra calories that sugar and salt have. You’ll also support the health of your body, as they have nutrients that you can’t get from flavored popcorn.
If you need buttery popcorn, opt for some healthy oils instead. You can choose olive or almond oil for extra nutrients, including the healthy fats. When you want salty popcorn, opt for cracked sea salt instead for some extra benefits.
There are other snacks that you can have on hand instead. Makeup trail mix, which you can keep in your bag and eat on the go if you need. You can also chop up vegetable sticks, so you can grab them from the fridge when you need something. Consider fruit slices with some peanut butter as a dessert or snack.
You’ll be surprised at the way you feel satisfied but remain healthy. Weight loss is much easier because you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.
Sit Down to Eat and Eat Undistracted
Distractions are the worst problems with unhealthy eating habits. If you want to improve your eating habits, change the way you eat your food.
Rather than eating on the go, try to sit down and grab a bite to eat. This can be on the park bench, in the staff lunch room, or even at home. When you walk and eat, you can forget what you’re eating. There is less chance of tracking, so you overlook the calories you’ve consumed. It’s much easier to overeat.
Eating distracted is also a problem for your portion sizes. When you consume your food while doing something else, you eat much quicker. Your brain doesn’t have the chance to think about whether you’re full or not and you end up reaching for seconds without even thinking about it. By the time your brain has registered you’re full, you’ve already consumed the unneeded calories.
When you’re distracted, you also tend not to chew your food. This can leave you with digestive complaints, as it takes longer for your body to break down all the food. You feel bloated and mentally worse than you did before.
By eating undistracted, you can chew your food and eat more mindfully. You’ll think about your portion sizes more, reducing the amount that you eat to make it easier to lose weight.
Brush Your Teeth After a Meal
If you’re finding it hard to curb the snacking, start brushing your teeth more. You can also opt for chewing gum if you don’t have the chance to brush your teeth. The minty flavor in the mouth will help to curb cravings and will make you not want to eat anything more. In fact, the mint can even make you feel full, even if you’re not!
Brushing your teeth also has that psychological benefit of not wanting to eat more. You don’t want to add food back onto your now clean teeth, so you’re more likely to say no to the seconds or the dessert.
It’s a small thing to do, but one of the most effective. One of the best times to brush your teeth is after your dinner. This will mean you’ve got one less job to do when you go to bed but will also encourage you not to snack at the end of the night. Emotional eating is curbed easier, even if you do have the healthy options on hand.
When out and about, chewing gum is the next best option. Make sure your gum is sugar-free to protect your teeth. Chewing gum after a meal can also be good to aid the digestion to help you feel more satisfied. You start to create saliva, making your brain think that you’re consuming more food. It will move the current food through faster to make sure there’s space.
You’ll still want to stick to a regular meal pattern to avoid the sugar cravings.
Reduce Your Plate Size
One of the easiest tips you can follow to improve your eating habits is to reduce your plate size. Did you know that plate sizes have gone up by at least 3 inches in diameter over the last few decades? This has led to our portion sizes increasing, and, of course, we have that thought that we need to eat everything that’s on our plate.
To help manage this inherent need to eat all our food, reduce your plate sizes. There’s a psychological benefit to this. When the plate sizes increased, putting the same amount you would have on a smaller plate looked too small; it didn’t fill up the plate. By reducing your plate size, you don’t put as much on the plate because the plate gets fuller quicker. You get that feeling that you’re eating the same amount as you did on a larger plate, even though your portion size is smaller.
When you’ve finished the plate, you’ll feel satisfied, and there won’t be the guilt that you’ve left the food on the plate.
As you continue this, try to get out of the habit of feeling the need to eat everything on your plate. If you’re full, don’t eat anymore! You want to eat until you’re satisfied. Anything more and you add too many calories to your day. You’ll soon find that you can reduce your portion sizes further, as you become more mindful of the amount of food you need to eat.
Are You Ready to Practice Better Habits?
Weight loss doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to feel impossible. Part of it is improving your eating habits, but you need to find ways to make that as easy as possible. After all, habits are ingrained and it, as humans, we don’t like change.
By making the above tips, you improve your chances of making habitual changes. You can train your brain to think differently and avoid the cravings that come with the bad eating habits. It’s possible to feel good about the changes you’re making, so you end up wanting to make more.
Make one change at a time and allow that to become a habit for a few weeks. You’ll soon forget about your old ways, and more habits become much easier to break and adapt for the better.