10 Tips for Sticking to Your Diet
Creating the Diet for You
We do it every year. We promise that we'll eat healthier, lose those extra pounds, exercise more often. And every year we break our January resolutions.
But this year is different! This year we have dedicated ourselves to helping you stick to your diet resolution. Why? Because being overweight is bad for your long-term health, not to mention your self-esteem and the life of your couch springs. Plus, developing healthy eating habits will help your mind as much as your body -- good nutrition, together with physical activity, is one of the best ways to combat stress, depression, anxiety, and the all-around winter blues.
So without further ado, we present to you 10 things you can do to make sure this year's diet plan works for you.
1. Make your doctor your diet partner. Your doctor knows your health risk factors and nutritional needs, so he can help you determine how much weight loss is healthy for you and what kind of diet is right for you. For example, if you have high cholesterol, your doctor may advise against something like the Atkins Diet and instead recommend a low-calorie, low-fat diet combined with exercise. He may even offer routine weigh-ins with the practice's nurse. Plus, telling your doctor you're trying to lose weight is like making a promise to your health boss, and he doesn't like to be disappointed.
2. Start a food diary. List everything you eat each day, along with the number of calories and fat grams each food item contains. Remember to record snacks and drinks -- everything from your morning cup of coffee to your evening glass of wine counts toward your daily caloric intake. (A glass of red wine has about 95 calories and white wine has even more.) This is a great way for you to see what you're eating each day, and consider how you might change your habits. The average daily caloric intake for people who are not dieting should be about 2,000 calories, so to lose weight you'll need to eat less than that -- 1,750 for men and 1,500 for women. Try a calorie-tracking site or app like LoseIt, MyPlate or Sparkpeople to get a handle on how much you're really eating.
3. Create an eating plan or choose a diet that fits your lifestyle and food tastes. Even though you're dieting, you can and you should still eat three delicious meals each day, along with a snack or two. It's all about what and how much you eat. Start your day with a protein-packed breakfast. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism so you burn calories faster throughout the day, and the protein will give you staying power and keep you feeling full through the morning. Next, find some healthy snacks and foods that you enjoy eating, and stock up! For example, yogurt has a lot of nutritional value and it's a filling snack that can get you through that tough afternoon period just before dinner. Apples, bananas, celery, carrots, peaches, and other fruit are all great supplements to a light breakfast, or replacements for dessert. Find a low-fat or healthy eating cookbook with recipes that you'll enjoy making and eating. And check out our Lunch Makeovers for some lighter variations on some of your favorite midday treats.
4. Stop buying and cooking junk food and other unnecessary foods. You know what we're talking about. This means no cookies, cakes, doughnuts, soda, chips, crackers, ice cream, frozen yogurt, high-fat frozen dinners, juices with less than 80 percent natural juices, fast food of any type, candy bars, high-fat granola bars, and other foods that are high in fat, high in calories, and simply have no nutritional value. You can't eat it if you don't have it. And your kids and spouse don't need it either. So just say no.
5. Successful dieting is all about PORTION CONTROL. One reason diet experts tell us not to eat in front of the TV is because it's too easy to ignore how much we're eating when we're distracted by channel surfing. So now that you're tracking your caloric intake, make sure you're matching that up with your portion-sizes too. If you must eat in front of the TV, parse out a small portion for yourself in the kitchen. It might be helpful for you to use a smaller plate. This way you're forcing yourself to take a smaller amount. And finally, do not go back for seconds.