Does the thought of wearing a swimming suit induce a panic attack? Have you retired your skinny jeans? Fad diets, body-cleansing regimens and diet supplements dominate the media and tempt many young women with promises of quick weight loss. Ultimately, the safest way to lose weight is to make lifetime diet changes. Small changes can add up to significant weight loss and improved health.
Don’t Skip Meals
How many times have you heard this tip? It is sound advice for young women who are dieting. Skipping meals may slow your metabolism causing you to gain weight. Skipping a meal may also cause you to overeat at the next meal because of increased hunger. Women who eat a healthy breakfast often eat fewer calories throughout the day. Eating healthy meals consistently will help maintain blood sugar and assist with weight loss.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are key components to a healthy diet. Opt for lean meats or replace them with beans and legumes. Choose low-fat dairy products. Avoid empty calories and foods high in saturated fat. Start by adding extra servings of fruit or vegetables to each meal. Replace pasta and bread with whole-grain versions.
Depriving yourself of your favorite treats may be counterproductive. Cutting all sweets or other favorite indulgences out of your diet may result in a binge of these foods. Allow yourself a few bites of your favorite treat and savor those bites. Use a thin slice of your favorite cake as a reward for a week of healthy diet choices. Eating less of these treats will make them special and more delicious when you do indulge. Most women don’t mind eating healthy foods if they allow themselves the occasional treat.
Plenty of indulgences will tempt you throughout the day. Rather than give in to treats that you don’t really enjoy, rate these indulgences on a scale of 1 to 5. When you decide it is time to indulge a little, choose something that is a 5 instead of wasting it on a 1 or a 2. By selecting an indulgence that is worth the calories, you will feel satisfied instead of being left disappointed. It may be easier to stay on track with a healthy diet because of this satisfaction.
Write down every calorie you consume, including beverages, in a food journal. You may be surprised by the amount of calories consumed in a day. A food journal helps identify wasted calories and foods that stall your progress. Writing down the food you consume forces you to think before you eat.
Portion size continues to grow along with the waist lines of many women. When dining out, cut your food in half so you know when to stop. Leave the rest on your plate or take it home for another meal. At home, serve your meal on a salad plate. You won’t have room to overindulge, yet the plate will appear full. Stop eating as soon as you start to feel full even if food remains on the plate.
The drinks you choose can be as important as the food you consume. Many beverages contain empty calories that add up quickly. A specialty coffee drink can add several hundred calories to your daily intake. A 12 ounce soda carries about 150 calories. A cup of grape juice has almost 150 calories. It is easy to drink 600 or more calories per day without much thought. Replace two or three of your daily drinks with water to quickly cut calories.
If weight loss is the goal, a progress chart may increase motivation. Dieting takes effort and motivation. You may hit a dieting plateau resulting in decreased motivation. A visual reminder of the weight already lost is inspirational during these times.
Share Your Goals
Tell everyone in your life about your dieting goals. Sneaking an extra slice of cheesecake is easy if no one knows about your dieting goals. Gaining support from friends and family increases the likelihood of success.
Everyone gives in to temptation at some point. Instead of abandoning all efforts when you indulge in a super-sized fast food meal or an extra dessert, forgive yourself and get back on track. Dwelling on something that is already done is not productive and may further hurt your progress.