No. 1 – Start your Day with Protein
Protein is a longer-lasting fuel source. It makes small meals more satisfying and sticks with you longer than sugary, simple carbohydrate delights.
I swapped traditional breakfast cereals for eating vanilla greek yogurt, a banana and 10 almonds for breakfast at least five days a week.
No. 2 – Include raw nuts like almonds or walnuts for a protein boost in snacks.
Almonds are a good source of protein, dietary fats and fiber which satisfy hunger pangs. Eating almonds regularly also helps aid nutrient absorption, regulate the release of glucose in the bloodstream, and other benefits for mental health, bone health, and heart health.
I added one full serving of almonds to each day, splitting them between breakfast and part of an afternoon snack.
No. 3 – Start your meal planning with fruits and vegetables first.
Build your meals around fruits and vegetables before you fill up on heavier foods. Most fruits and vegetables are considered zero calorie foods because your body burns more calories to digest these foods than what they actually contain. Popular weight loss programs like weight watchers consider these a zero point food, meaning that you can eat as much of them as you want. 10 Powerful Reasons to Eat More Bananas
I consider fruits and vegetables to be a free food. I don’t always eat both with every meal, but I do eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack and overall I plan to get at least 3-5 servings of each per day.
No. 4 – Cut caffeinated beverages down to no more than one per day.
Cutting caffeine will improve your sleep quality and by turn improve your ability to manage a healthy weight. It will also lower cortisol levels which will make it easier to get rid of dreadful mid-section fat.
No. 5 – Take Advantage of the Protein Source in Greek Yogurt and Make Recipes Healthier.
Substituting plain greek yogurt for staples in recipes can help lower calories and boost protein. You can use it to replace vegetable oil, butter, mayonnaise, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese, or milk.
No. 6 – Eat Real Food. Avoid ‘Fat-Free’ or ‘Low-Fat’ diet versions of foods.
If you are using principles of clean-er eating, meaning that the food that you choose to consume is as close to its natural state as possible
No. 7 – Get portion sizes under control.
A lot of people have successfully trimmed pounds simply by adhering to serving sizes. When planning your meals, check the serving size and make sure that you are measuring your servings correctly.
For lunch, I typically eat colby jack cheese cubes, an apple, and sliced roast beef. The serving size for the brand of cheese that I buy is 6 cubes and the lunch meat is 2 oz which is about 6 slices for the kind that I buy.
No. 8 – Focus on high protein/low carbohydrate meals and snacks.
The kind of carbs that I am talking about cutting, are the ones that are prevalent in American culture. White rice, pasta, and potatoes are all broken down into sugar almost as fast as actual sugar is broken down which make it essentially the same from a nutrition perspective.
No. 9 – Cook your dinner with coconut oil instead of vegetable or olive oil.
There are few things that seem to be universally agreed upon among health and nutrition gurus, but the health benefits of olive oil seem to be one of them. But, as it turns out, I find olives to be horribly offensive in taste, and while most people would not notice the taste in olive oil…I really, really do. While more controversial, I have found coconut oil to be a good substitute that may even offer more overall health benefits.
No. 10 – Plan a routine that you can stick with.
We are all creatures of habit and the easier that something is, the more likely we are to do it. I understand that variety is important for a lot of people, but try to stick to the same combinations as much as possible while you are establishing the routine. You can add more variety later.
As long as I enjoy what I am eating, meaning that I only pick foods for my meal plan that I actually like, I can eat the same thing at least five days a week. That makes the busier part of my week, the work days, a lot easier to stick to a diet.
No. 11 – Don’t force yourself to eat things that you don’t like just because it is healthy.
The best way to reach a healthy weight and sustain it is to make lifestyle changes rather than diet. Sure, you can lose weight by dieting, but the moment that you stop the restrictive diet, you will go back to eating the same way that caused those pounds to add up in the first place.
I built my foundation meal plan around only foods that I like. I don’t like to eat fish, so I looked for other sources that I do like for Omega 3’s like fish oil supplements, coconut oil, and tuna.
No. 12 – Skip the multivitamin and focus on boosting B vitamins and fish oils.
I consider multivitamins to be kind of a jack of all trades, master of none type of solution. If you already eat a well balanced diet, it is unlikely that you need to supplement all of the vitamins. But, the ones that you may want to focus on even when you are eating a balanced diet are B vitamins and Omega 3’s.
I never noticed any benefit from taking multivitamins, but as soon as I switched to a B complex and fish oils, I almost immediately, felt better. My chronic fatigue disappeared and I felt ‘good’ for the first time in years. It helped regulate my depression, gave me an energy boost, and
No. 13 – Seek out ways to actively calm your stress on a daily basis.
Increased stress levels raises the production of the hormone cortisol in the body. High levels of cortisol have been linked to inhibiting weight loss, specifically in the midsection. If you are putting the effort in to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight, the very last thing that you want is something working against you.
No. 14 – Cut processed foods and learn how to cook the basic staples instead.
Processed foods are chalked full of sodium and non-food chemicals to enhance color, taste and palatability. There is no nutritional need to consume these chemicals and doing so can actually harm your overall health. If you learn to cook the staples really well, you will be satisfied with your meals and won’t need to the comfort of macaroni and cheese from a box.
My favorite dinner is chicken breast cooked in coconut oil using our cast-iron skillet. We vary flavor using a different combinations of spices and sauces.
No. 15 – Eggs are good for you. Eat them.
Eggs got a bad wrap for a long time because they do contain relatively high cholesterol and fat contents, but eggs should really be viewed as a concentrated source of macro nutrients rather than something dangerous to run away from. I eat at least one egg every single day. I continued to eat them even when it was popular to avoid them because they taste super delicious. I feel strongly that they the benefits that they provide far outweigh any one persons opinion to avoid them.
No. 16 – Use real butter (in moderation) instead of vegetable oil spreads and margarine.
To be honest, a try to sub for healthier alternatives like greek yogurt instead of butter when I can. But sometimes, you just need butter. If that is the case, always go with the real deal. Butter is real food with real nutritional benefits. In the last decade or so, people have shyed away from it to avoid the higher saturated fat content.
But, is skipping butter for the purpose of saving a few grams of saturated fat worth risking your cardiovascular health? A Harvard Medical Study confirmed that those who consumed margarine regularly have a 53% higher risk of developing heart disease.
No. 17 – If you struggle to work out, think small. Some is better than none.
I am the kind of person that really, really dislikes working out. Sometimes I can zone out and push through it, but most of the time I just plain hate it. The good news is that physical activity is cumulative. So, go ahead and start small.
It is a lot easier to talk yourself in to 10 minutes than it is to talk yourself into 30 minutes, or an hour. I started with 10 minutes on the treadmill. I found that after the first couple of days, I didn’t want to stop at 10 minutes.
No. 18 – Instead of focusing on a number of calories or grams of sugar, focus on balance.
It is tedious work to constantly worry about totaling of calories and grams of every little thing that you eat and trying to make it all balance perfectly. Realistically, it is far more important to focus on variety and getting adequate levels of all necessary nutrients.
I do actively cut-out the consumption of sugars and simple carbohydrates in my overall diet. However, I do not get overly concerned about the few grams of sugar that I drink in a glass of milk or eat in a cup of yogurt. As long as the foods that I choose are providing nutritional benefit and are part of an overall balanced diet, I don’t get hung up on the fact that I am technically consuming some sugar.
No. 19 – Understand how your body uses energy and focus on fueling it.
Do you crave snacks from the vending machine at a certain time of day? Let’s say, mid-afternoon? Your body is telling you that it is dipping low on energy. Add more protein and lean fats to your lunch, or a small protein-based snack to curb those cravings.
No. 20 – Beat hunger between meals with proper hydration and mini protein boosts.
My favorite afternoon snack is 10 almonds, 2 oz. colby cheese and a small apple. This is around 250 calories, but meets all of the requirements for providing sustainable energy: protein, healthy fat, and fiber.
No. 21 – Avoid meal replacement shakes. They are not a meal.
Eat real food for real energy. Meal replacement shakes are little more than a cocktail of synthetic chemicals made to trick your brain into believing that your body is receiving sustenance.
I am not talking about homemade smoothies made from real ingredients. I am saying that you should avoid commercially made meal replacement shakes made popular by any number of diet programs aimed at making money off of your (marginal) weight loss.
No. 22 – Start with one small change.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you are probably not going to be successful at transforming your lifestyle in one day either. Check out the link below to a blog post that I found with the best idea to keep you motivated to try new things and make small changes, one at a time.
No. 23 – Learn to cook a few simple meals well.
It IS possible to cook food that is both healthy and delicious. When I cut simple carbohydrates, I thought that it would be hard to find satisfying meals. Luckily, the hubs is pretty good in the kitchen. We started cooking exclusively on either the grill or in a cast-iron skillet with coconut oil. With a little bit of seasoning, even regular chicken breast tastes extra delicious.
No. 24 – Allow one scheduled cheat per week.
Completely restricting the ‘not-so-good-for-you’ foods is probably setting yourself up for failure. It is completely okay to indulge on occasion. But, become aware of how much you are really indulging. You might think it’s once a week, but its probably more like 3-4 times per day.
No. 25 – Banish junk food from your home.
If temptation is only as far as a walk to the kitchen, you will be far less successful. I don’t keep soda, potato chips, cookies, candy, or other ‘junk foods’ in the house AT ALL.
No. 26 – Focus on power foods. Work them into your meal plan as often as possible.
I like to focus on foods that will give me the most benefits. I use these staple foods as the basis for my diet, eating them nearly every single day. It makes sticking to a routine and keeping your eating habits healthy with minimal effort.
I stick to greek yogurt, almonds, bananas, apples, chicken breast as lots of vegetables. I pack every meal and snack with at least two servings of protein and consider fruits and vegetables a zero calorie or free food.
No. 27 – Get variety by varying flavors, not foods.
I know one thing, and that is any meal plan that I use has to be incredibly low-maintenance. If the meal plan takes hours of food prep, or endless planning, tracking, and calorie counting, I will last exactly three days before I throw it out the window and eat a cookie.
When we (the hubs and I) reformed the way that we use food a little over a year ago, we decided to stick (mostly) to a set meal plan and vary the seasonings and flavors. Over one year later, and this plan still works for us. We eat chicken breast, on average, 3-4 times per week. On the other nights, we pork loin, tuna, or shrimp. On occasion we take a break for a lean ground beef, but the hubs is very against substituting ground turkey so that only happens about every other week.
Even though our meat choices are kind of repetitive, we use so many different flavors that we never get bored with the same old chicken.
No. 28 – Experiment with essential oils. Your sense of smell is strongly connected to your desire to eat.
Some essential oils like peppermint oil can help curb cravings and deter snacking between meals. While you might not have thought about essential oils as an aid for losing or managing your weight. But, a number of studies have been done on using mint chewing gum or breath mints to curb your appetite and the effect is the same.
No. 29 – Eat spicy if you can handle it.
Spicy foods, seasoned with the spices from any variety of hot peppers have long been thought to aid in weight loss. I personally eat a ton of spicy food, not for its benefit to weight loss, but just because I really like my food spicy.
The added benefits of satiety, suppressed appetite, reduced inflammation, and lowers blood pressure are just icing on the cake.
No. 30 – Make sure you are getting Omega-3’s. They cannot be produced in the body so it is essential that they come from your diet.
You have probably seen heavy marketing telling you to get more Omega-3’s and you probably associate it with eating fish. Beyond that, you might be a little fuzzy on why you need to be eating them.
Omega-3’s are essentially healthy fats that should be included to meet basic nutritional needs. Without healthy fats, your body is at a disadvantage for regulating cholesterol, at a greater risk for bone diseases like osteoporosis, at a greater risk for inflammatory bowel disorders like IBS or Crohn’s disease, and at a greater risk for developing common cancers.
No. 31 – Stay away from artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners provide no nutritional benefits, but they do trick your brain into thinking that you are consuming sugar when you are not. As a result, it feeds the sugar addiction which in turn causes you to eat more sugar and simple carbohydrates.
Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to chronic migraines, obesity, and a number of inflammatory ailments. And, also, they taste just awful. Please don’t sacrifice your taste buds in the interest of losing or maintaining your weight.
No. 32 – Make sure you are eating enough. Deprivation doesn’t work.
To put it simply, when you deprive yourself of nutrients, your blood sugar levels drops dramatically. When your blood sugar drops, you will feel all kinds of awful until you remedy the situation by providing a quickly accessible form of energy to your body. This means that you are more prone to overeating and to bingeing on sugar and simple carbohydrates. Those very foods also make your blood sugar spike very high as they are digested. The unstable pattern of dips and peaks in your blood sugar level will prevent you from losing weight.
No. 33 – Change it up when you hit a plateau. Keep it consistent when it’s working.
Routines get old after awhile and plateaus are probably the number one reason for abandoning a particular meal plan or fitness plan. Start with a meal plan and fitness plan that you genuinely like and that doesn’t leave you feeling over committed or deprived. When that plan runs its course and becomes mundane, try making a few changes.
There is no need to revamp the entire plan, simply introducing 3-4 new foods or a new workout is all that it takes to pump new energy into your routine.
No. 34 – Drink water, not calories.
I used to be the kind of person that absolutely hated the metallic taste of water. I basically refused to drink it unless I was in dire need of hydration, and while I still don’t drink anywhere 64 ounces of water per day (as water), I do drink it regularly and naturally as water and not flavored beverages.
The difference for me was cutting sugars and other simple carbohydrates from diet. Sometime after i had done that and noticed that I naturally increased my water intake on preference, I started looking into it. As it turns out, there are studies that suggest that people who eat a lot of simple carbohydrates are more sensitive to the mineral and metallic tastes in water. I can attest that I was when I ate more of those foods.
No. 35 – Focus on long-term lifestyle changes, not depriving diets. There are no magic tricks in weight loss.
Even if you are overweight, the goal should always be to reach and maintain a healthy weight. You can absolutely lose the pounds by following any number of popular fad diets. But the only way that you will be able to maintain it is to make permanent changes to the way that you use food, starting with your weight loss and continued throughout the rest of your life.
No. 36 – It’s okay to stray, but always come back.
My sister and I started doing a weekly video chat to talk about how well (or not well) we did each week on our goals for eating healthy and being healthy. It is no more than a few minutes of a time commitment, but it works to hold us both accountable week after week.
No. 37 – Set small, easily achievable goals.
Weight loss is a slow process, and if you have ever done it, you know that it is not linear. There will be weeks where you don’t seem to lose anything and sometimes even weeks where it looks like you have gained weight. It is easy to let the slow or lack of progress deter your plan.
Understand that your commitment is not about seeing amazing results week after week, but in working towards a long-term goal of better health. Instead, focus on smaller goals like losing 5 lbs or losing 1 lb and celebrate each of those successes to keep you motivated.
No. 38 – Plan smaller, more satisfying meals and snacks.
I find that it is all too easy to overeat because it takes time for my brain to catch up to the fact that I have filled my stomach with food. If i sit down with a big plate of food, I will eat all of it and then shortly feel like I ate too much. Most diet gurus advise that you eat carefully measured portion sizes and if you are still hungry after the meal, wait 20 minutes to make sure it is still hunger before eating more.
But, even using that trick I was still overeating until I figured out how to make my small meals more satisfying by doubling the protein. Instead of eating a chicken breast and a salad, I started adding a boiled egg to my salad. I was getting a serving of protein from the chicken and breast and a second serving of protein from the boiled egg and that was all the difference that I needed to feel satisfied with my dinner.
No. 39 – Drink lemon water
Research has shown a correlation between citrus and achieving/maintaining a healthy weight. Proper hydration is key to losing or maintaining a healthy weight, add to that a natural appetite suppressant and a pleasant flavor, and you will probably notice that this zero calorie beverage aids your efforts.
No. 40 – Do not buy foods with sugar listed in the first three ingredients.
Ingredient labels on food products list the ingredients by the order of content. If you see sugar (or any of its aliases) in the first three ingredients, then it is safe to assume that the food product is mostly simple carbohydrates and sugars, or in other words, not a good source of nutrition.
No. 41 – Eat on blue plates, not red, orange or yellow.
There is an entire science dedicated to studying the emotional and subconscious effects of colors on moods and behaviors. Retailers use this research to design store environments to promote sales and fast-food restaurants use it to design dining rooms that make you slightly uncomfortable so that you eat and go.
Reds, yellows and oranges are considered to be more hostile colors which inspire action (i.e. eating in the case of a dinner plate). On the other hand, blue is an appetite depressant. If your plate color was going to factor into how much you eat, blue plates would be the safest bet.
When my sister was little, she would refuse to eat off of our blue plates because she said they made her sick. At the time, we thought it was quirk. As it turns out, science supports her claims. While your blue plates won’t make you ‘sick’, that was just an over-dramatic child, they will help to suppress your appetite and help you to eat less.
No. 42 – Limit meals as a social outing.
Restaurant meals typically contain somewhere around an entire day’s budget of calories in one meal. They also used to be one of my biggest weaknesses. Add to that, if you are eating socially, you are more likely to overeat as your focus will be on the conversation rather than your satiety.
No. 43 – Eat fruit, fresh or frozen. Skip fruit juices and dried fruit.
High sugar content foods only work against your weight-loss efforts by feeding your sugar addiction and encouraging you to eat more sugar and simple carbohydrates. These junk foods cause your blood sugar levels to spike to high levels and promote insulin resistance, even in non-diabetics.
Fruit juices and dried fruits are basically concentrates of the sugar from the fruit, plus added sugars for flavoring. The nutritional benefits of eating the fruit are pretty well nullified by the processing of commercial juices.
No. 44 – Change up your physical activity.
No one gets more bored at working out than me. I absolutely hate working out and I avoid it as much as possible. The only way that I can stick with it is to change it up frequently.
No. 45 – Chew Gum.
You can’t put snacks in your mouth while you are chewing gum without actively making the decision to eat.
No. 46 – Eat foods with a high water content.
The water content in the foods that you eat add to the amount of total water that you consume, therefore boosting your hydration levels. Also foods high in water content and will fill you up faster. I personally eat an apple every single day with my lunch. The water and fiber contents in the apple help fill out the meal which also contains two servings of protein from roast beef or turkey and cheese.
No. 47 – Eat more fiber.
Research supports that high fiber diets aid in maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber helps you feel full longer and more satisfied with the food that you are consuming. It is best to incorporate fiber-rich foods into your diet rather than taking a supplement.
No. 48 – Make one healthy choice when indulging at restaurants.
Even though you should be limiting restaurant meals to a once-in-awhile indulgence, you can cut some calories without having to commit to a salad for dinner. I only drink water with my meals at restaurants, and I go for the sandwich or main course that I really want by skip the fries and get steamed broccoli or green beans instead.
No. 49 – Add cinnamon to your coffee, tea or smoothie.
Cinnamon tastes great, and it adds major flavoring if you are missing a little something in your trimmed down, healthy recipes. Cinnamon has also been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels by imitating the effects of insulin. Some studies have even shown that adding cinnamon to a dish can lower its glycemic index by up to 30%.
No. 50 – Use the tools that suit you. If you prefer technology, try an app. If you prefer hand-to-paper, buy a pretty journal.
I am a more pen-to-paper kind of a person. I have tried apps and I just don’t like them. I don’t keep a dedicated food journal, but there is enough space in my regular planner to keep track of what I am eating.