Healthy habits are hard to maintain in today's busy, fast-paced world of easy fixes, where losing weight is harder than ever. But not all healthy habits are grand and life changing - you'll be surprised to hear what a huge impact small changes in your lifestyle can have on your weight. I'm sure you've never heard at least half of these tips, but each and every one of them will have a small and meaningful effect on your weight loss.
Start Eating Blue!
Now I don’t mean eating blue foods but rather eating out of blue dishware. Research has found that if the dishes we use to eat match our food color it may prompt us to eat more than we really need. The color blue has been found to be the least appealing contrast to most foods and therefore a great appetite suppressant.
Shop From the Outside
When you go shopping for groceries always use this simple tactic, it's more effective than you might think. Always start your shopping from the perimeter of the store before going to the inner aisles. The edges of grocery stores generally house fresh produce and health foods, while the inner aisles hold more pre-packaged, processed foods and sweets. Browsing the perimeter first and getting everything you need from there, will reduce the amount of unhealthy foods and unwanted additives you buy.
Cooking doesn't take long, not even healthy cooking. It’s the best way to know exactly what you are eating and to have full control over the ingredients and amounts of food you eat. Restaurants often use larger plates than the ones we have at home, which means we eat more, and some people will also feel bad if they don’t finish all their food and eat those few unnecessary bites just to avoid asking for a doggy bag.
Serve "Restaurant" Style
When eating at home, try this simple serving trick to reduce the amount of food you eat at each meal. Instead of bringing all the food to the table, take only what you need in your plate, and leave the rest on the kitchen counter. When you’re done with your plate, take a breather and then decide if you really want seconds. Not having your food in sight will mean you are more likely to be content and happy with just your first serving.
Eat More (Healthy) Fats
It's important to remember that we need healthy fats in our diets as a source of energy and to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. You can get healthy mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats from avocados, olive oil, nuts, coconuts, seeds, and fish. Try eating these foods with others that are high in fiber. This will also help you feel much fuller and satisfied after a meal.
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Use Smaller Plates
Much like the last two tips, this one is all about tricking your brain. Using a small plate instead of a big one can help you feel fuller with the same amount of food. You might also want to try and spread the food across the plate, leaving less empty "white space" that will fool your brain into thinking you are eating less than you really are.
Don’t Eat with the TV On
Eating while watching television is linked to poor food choices and mindless overeating. It’s not just the mindlessness of watching television that’s bad for you, the commercials for unhealthy foods may increase your desire for low-nutrient junk food.
Wait Before Ordering Seconds
Our minds and bodies take time to fully understand and register how much we have eaten and to give us a feeling of "fullness". Try going on a short walk, reading the paper or playing a game of cards before dishing up seconds.
Hot is Good
Hot spices like cayenne pepper can not only boost metabolism, but also cut cravings for sweet or salty foods. Sprinkle some spice on scrambled eggs, or spice up a stir-fry with a little hot sauce for that extra bit of help in burning fats.
While it won't always help with decreasing your appetite, gum can keep the mouth busy when cooking up a meal or when socializing amongst a sea of appetizers. The long term effects of gum chewing on weight loss are minimal but studies show it can lower cravings for sweet and salty snacks, and decrease hunger levels between meals.
Sip Some Green Tea
Drinking green tea is a great way to shed a few pounds as it has an amazing ability to metabolize fat as well as many other healthy uses. In combination with resistance training, green tea increases the potential for fat loss. Add a squeeze of lemon for a little flavor and vitamins for even more healthy and antioxidant effects.
Water It Down
If you can't live without your soda and juice, then you can try this simple trick to reduce the sugar and calories you take with them. Watering down your drink may sound entirely unappealing, but if you test it for a bit you can come up with a mixture that will have more water than the sugar-sweetened drink, and still taste good.
Go For Tall and Thin
Research shows that people pour less liquid into tall narrow glasses than into their vertically challenged counterparts. It’s a small change that means you will ultimately drink less in one sitting. This tip is only recommended for harmful drinks and not water or natural juices.
Keeping your good oral hygiene habits is not something you would normally relate to weight loss but if you think about it for a second it makes a lot of sense. Right after you are done with dinner go brush your teeth and use some mouthwash. This will keep you from mindlessly snacking while watching a pre-bed TV show as you'll be more inclined to keep your mouth clean before bed.
Enjoy Your Food
Eating slowly may not fit into a busy workday, but it pays to pace your chewing and take your time with every meal. The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness and chewing our food well will help our body extract the maximum amount of nutrition from it.
Another tip that will make you understand that losing weight is all in your mind is finding some good mantras to keep you motivated and focused. Hang up an inspirational poster in your room, write it on a sticky note at your desk or scribble it on your forehead. Just make sure you remember what you are doing and what you're doing it for.
Add, Don’t Subtract
Don’t remove foods from your diet, replace them and focus on adding healthy foods to your menu. Ditching all the “bad” stuff can be a daunting task, one that’s easier to stick to by focusing on one habit at a time. As you add more and more healthy habits and foods to your life it will be much easier to get rid of the bad ones.
As part of any healthy lifestyle it's important to sleep well and at regular times. This will help shave off some pounds because your sleep is linked to changes in appetite and the metabolism in the body.
You are not the only person out there trying to lose weight. Turn to online communities or support groups for sharing progress and setbacks, getting useful tips and a good pat on the back to keep you going.
Don't demonize food and the fact that you are on a diet, instead go for a positive attitude. “I can control my eating” or “I’m proud that I ate responsibly today” can reframe our relationship with food and our efforts to get healthier.
I'm sure that if you follow even half of these tips and stick to a healthy diet - you'll reach your goal in no time!