Losing weight doesn’t automatically mean you need to embark on a strict strategy that involves eliminating foods and restricting your choices. I’ve seen it over and over…making a major overhaul to your diet and eating habits may certainly work in the short term and you will probably lose weight at the outset but it isn’t long before, feeling deprived and overwhelmed with the complexity of making the “right” choices, can leave you disheartened and unmotivated to carry on.
It’s hardly surprising, after all, being faced with a list of things you can’t do or eat has so many negative connotations. Establishing positive eating habits is more effective and when it comes to food, rather than focusing on what not to eat, a focus on HOW to eat is far easier.
I know this may sound ridiculous, but you could actually shed those extra pounds very easily and still continue to eat normally, even including your favourite foods. It’s a question of setting yourself up with healthy eating habits; making small adjustments to your eating habits that all add up and you’ll soon find yourself shedding those extra pounds without ever even starting a “diet”
Here are 9 eating habits to implement now to start shedding those extra pounds:
Don’t drink your calories
You’re probably not surprised to hear that high sugar drinks like juices, smoothies, sodas and of course alcohol can bump up your calorie intake. However, they also contain neither fibre nor healthy fats or proteins; all of which are satiating and will help keep your hunger at bay. If you’re drinking your calories rather than eating whole foods, you’re more likely to reach for an unhealthy snack as your cravings get the better of you.
If you’re choosing a smoothie for its convenience, then do include a good dollop of plain Greek yoghurt, a tablespoon of oats or nuts for a thicker more satiating protein-rich shake.
Start with a salad or soup starter
Whilst eating more food may seem counterintuitive when it comes to losing weight, eating the right foods ahead of a main meal can actually help you feel fuller, releasing blood sugar more slowly, so you’re less likely to over-indulge in the main meal. Plus of course, you’ll be notching up your vegetable intake for the day.
Don’t keep high calorie snacks
It’s quite simple; if you don’t have junk food like biscuits, cakes, sweets and crisps to hand, but your fruit bowl is full and you’ve got popcorn and unsalted nuts in the larder, you’ve got no choice but to make better choices. So clear out any of these foods as well as fizzy drinks and packaged cereals for example, and set yourself up with healthy choices like cut up vegetables, hummus and a colourful fruit bowl on the worktop.
Build your meal around key macronutrients
Whenever you’re deciding on your meal choice, there are 2 things they must contain; Protein and Fibre. Ideally, also healthy fats. These are complex nutrients and take longer to digest. As such, it is these foods that will keep you full and help you to avoid overeating.
With this in mind, you’ll soon realise many of the junk foods mentioned above fall well short of this criteria and it’s easy to see why you should be avoiding them (and that’s without even considering their high calorie count!)
Rather than vowing to take up new time consuming, possibly even expensive exercise regimes, make a pledge to simply walk more. Leading a sedentary life not only sabotages your weight loss efforts but it can also promote an unhealthy lifestyle in general; increasing stress levels and inflammation.
Walking gets your muscles moving and the blood flowing, helps to keep your blood sugars under control, burns calories and promotes emotional wellbeing.
Factor in as many walks as possible into your day; to and from work, around the block on your own or accompanying a friend on a dog walk. No matter how short, even if it’s just a 5 minute walk, you’ll notice the difference immediately.
Create eating routines
It’s easy to fall into no particular way of eating when your routines vary day-to-day. However, that can also simply be because you haven’t taken some time to establish a way of eating that fits in with your lifestyle. For example, if your work day/week is often haphazard due to travel or your hectic children’s activity schedules, consider what habits you can instil to ensure you prioritise your meal as far as possible.For example, always eat around 6:30pm (or whenever works) and always eat sitting down; it’s far easier to eat more subconsciously standing up as your mind doesn’t consider it a “proper meal”. Could you even avoid eating at your desk and instead enjoy lunch with a colleague outside in a park, weather permitting or in a more relaxed communal area. As a family, eating at the kitchen table rather than in front of the TV will establish a healthier way of eating. Keeping your mind alert, away from distractions like the TV or even music will allow you to be aware of your satiety cues and you’re less likely to continue to eat mindlessly.
Nurturing these routines and establishing healthy rituals will have a positive impact on how you eat as well as your emotional and mental health.
Don’t eat in between meals
No snacking; mid-morning, mid-afternoon or late night! Eating in between meals not only means you’re eating more calories but you’re also disrupting your blood sugar balance; causing spikes and insulin release to remove the blood sugars. High insulin leads to more fat storage and consequently weight gain. once you’ve finished your meal, left the table and cleared the kitchen, avoid eating anything until the following day.
Enjoy non-food rewards
So you’ve lost a few pounds and you’re in the mood to celebrate! Rewarding yourself with your favourite junk food is unlikely to provide a true reward for your efforts and you’re more likely to feel “guilty” that you’ve fallen away from your new healthy habits so easily. However, changing your mindset, so a treat is now no longer a food reward, but instead an indulgence like a beautiful bouquet of flowers or an experience such as going to the cinema, a massage or spa treatment, a game of golf or even a blow dry. Why not join me on my Nature and Nourish Creative Retreat for the ultimate treat; things that provide exhilaration and make you feel good are a more fitting reward for the efforts you have made.
Cook at least half your meals at home
You may consider it a time saver to eat out but the reality is, you can easily put a meal together in minutes if you’ve got the ingredients to hand. Take out or restaurant food is most likely higher in calories and if you’re eating out regularly, you’re slowing down your weight loss achievements. If you’re cooking at home, you can eat exactly what you want and in the quantities that won’t sabotage your efforts.
Want to kick start your healthy eating habits?
I’ve created a Healthy range of meals for The Cookaway, a chef-led recipe delivery service, that’ll inspire you to cook at home and enjoy more meals with friends and family. There’s also Indian, Spanish, Italian and the good news is that there’s no subscription, you can try it out as a one off, as and when. You’ll love the choices! CLICK HERE