Whether you’re following a specific diet or a simple, healthy eating plan to get yourself back on track and feel your best, the key to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle overall is consistency, say experts.
In fact, it’s not so much the type of diet you follow, but more about your consistent habits that make a difference to long-term weight management. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers report that National Weight Control Registry members successfully lost and kept their weight off by:
- Exercising for an hour each day
- Eating a low-kilojoule, low-fat diet
- Eating breakfast regularly
- Self-monitoring their weight
- Maintaining a consistent eating pattern (based on their eating plan), across weekdays and weekends.
Make your healthy eating plan a success:
Get your brain on board
From this moment forward, imagine you already have your dream body. Look at a picture you have chosen and stuck up on the fridge. Start behaving, thinking, feeling and acting like you are already in this body. What would this person eat? How would they eat? How much would they eat? Committing to your promise to achieve that goal starts right now with changing the way you view yourself and changing the way you think about what you eat and how you move. Master this, and your life, along with your ideal body size, will change forever.
Consider why you are eating
Every time you are about to put food in your mouth, ask yourself, are you “tummy” hungry or “brain” hungry? If you feel hungry but had a large meal an hour or so ago, your stomach isn’t empty and asking for food. In this situation, it is probably your brain telling you to eat because your blood-sugar levels have dropped. So instead of eating too much food, just eat a healthy snack such as a small palmful of nuts and raisins. This will be enough to naturally lift your blood-sugar levels and keep you going until you are properly “tummy” hungry.
Is it need or greed?
Before you eat, also consider whether it’s “need” or “greed”? If you haven’t eaten for three or four hours and feel hungry, you know this is a “need” meal and you require something nutritious to fuel your body. When you’re in the process of getting healthy and losing weight, try not to put yourself in the position of eating a “greed” meal… it’s all about practising mindful eating.
Prepare to meal match
When you sit down to do meal planning and set out to get ingredients, ask yourself, can I do a better meal match? This means matching the food you eat to your daily activities. Label your meals “Light” or “Active”.
“Light” dishes are for when you need slightly less energy, for instance if you are going to be sitting at your desk; and “Active” dishes are a little more energy-dense, so perfect for when you’re physically busy.
If you are having a “usual” activity day, you will need two “Light” meals and one “Active” meal. If you are more active than usual, then it’s fine to have one “Light” meal and two “Active” meals.
Hover your hand
When you’re about to serve up a meal, hover your hand over your plate first. If you want to lose weight, the protein and carbohydrate in any meal needs to be no larger on the plate than the size of your hovered hand. The only food that is allowed to be outside your hand is salad, vegetables, or fruit.
No late-night meals
Your body needs a 12-hour break without food so that your digestion system gets a rest, along with everything else. So, if you have breakfast at 7.30am, don’t eat your last meal any later than 7.30pm the night before.