5 Ways to Help Your Diet Become a Way of Life

From EatingWell Magazine

Many weight-loss attempts start out with grand intentions—“I’m going to lose weight and eat better (this time will be different, I swear!)”—only to revert back to old eating habits within a week or two. So how can you give your desire to eat healthy and lose weight some sticking power? Try these five tips to help turn your weight-loss plan into a strategy for healthy eating for the long haul. 

1. Don’t give up your favorite foods.

You shouldn’t have to say goodbye to your favorite foods. In fact, having a small treat may help you stick with your diet. The key to fitting your favorite foods into your eating plan is to find clever ways to incorporate them. One way to do this is to make lower-calorie versions of foods like French fries and brownies. Another trick is to be mindful of your serving sizes when it comes to more indulgent foods. Love pasta? Try adding vegetables to bulk up your serving instead of doubling up on pasta. Of course, your diet should be full of mostly healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains—but make room for some of your favorite, more- indulgent foods too.

2. Eat foods that keep you satisfied.

If you feel hungry all the time, it’s going to be hard to stick with a healthy-eating plan. Research shows that when you’re hungrier, you’re more likely to eat too fast at your next meal. Eating too quickly can lead to consuming extra calories because your body doesn’t have time to register feeling full. While portion control is super-important for losing weight (and keeping it off), you shouldn’t hear your tummy grumbling all day long. Two nutrients that can help keep you full are protein and fiber. Good protein sources include plain Greek yogurt, chicken breast, tuna, tofu and almonds. And to get more fiber, munch on whole fruits and vegetables. Not only is produce high in fiber, but it’s also generally low in calories. That makes it filling and diet-friendly—just what you’re looking for when you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.

3. Start with small changes.

There’s no need for dramatic shake-ups, like eliminating whole food groups. Instead, start with tiny diet tweaks that over time can become permanent changes. According to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., an eating behavior expert at Cornell University, “Making small, consistent changes fits more easily into people’s routines [than radically altering your diet].” Think of doable things, like packing a wholesome afternoon snack, such as carrots and hummus or an apple, instead of hitting the vending machine. Small changes add up and can help you make healthier eating a way of life, rather than relying on short-term crash dieting.

4. Don’t try to be perfect.

We often have grand ideas about implementing a new diet—like the promises you make about eliminating sugar, never taking from the breadbasket or always having vegetables at dinner. Instead of trying to be perfect, be realistic.  Make your eating plan one that you can actually stick to. You don’t have to eat perfectly to lose weight; you just have to eat well. Set a goal for the week, like adding a serving of vegetables to dinner, or packing a healthy lunch one or two days—and go easy on yourself if you slip up. Eating indulgences are bound to happen. And when they do…

5. Get right back on track.

If you have a diet slip-up and go overboard on chocolate or pizza, don’t beat yourself up! Just get back on track again as quickly as possible. Remember that one meal doesn’t undo all of your healthy efforts—but when you give up your diet entirely because of one slip-up, that’s when the weight can start to creep back on. If you have a minor setback, understand that it’s one small blip on the radar. Get right back to your healthy eating habits and right back on track for long-term success.

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