Health Team

Lifestyle changes, not dieting, key to sustainable weight loss

Healthy lifestyle changes, not dieting, are the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

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There's a minefield of obstacles for those of us looking to lose weight, and two of those obstacles are counting calories and cutting out favorite foods.

Those mines are what keep many people from committing to losing weight, but there is another way.

We have always encouraged people not to diet but rather adopt a healthy lifestyle of smart choices and more physical activity. That's the secret to losing weight without dieting.

Experts with WebMD offer some tips, including getting a kitchen timer. Set the timer for 20 minutes and re-invent yourself as a slow eater. You'll enjoy your meal more than when you wolf it down in a hurry.

Spend more time in between bites in conversation with others at the table. The benefit is your stomach will have time to tell your brain that it is full.

Try the 80/20 rule: dish out 20 percent less food and eat until you feel 80 percent full instead of waiting until you feel stuffed.

Other ways to change your lifestyle include:

– Sleep more. According to a University of Michigan study, an extra hour of sleep every night could help you lose 14 pounds in a year, based on 2,500 calorie a day intake. An hour of sleep is an hour without snacking, which could cut calories by 6 percent. Some research shows sleeping less than seven hours makes you feel more hungry than if you slept longer.

– Serve meals on a smaller plate and with smaller portions of protein and carbs.

– Fill half of the plate with three different vegetables rather than just one. The high fiber and water content fills you up with fewer calories—and cook them without adding fat. Flavor them with lemon juice and herbs rather than sauces and dressings.

– Add a broth-based soup to one of your meals. They are a great way to start a meal because they slow your eating and curb your appetite. Shoot for low fat and low sodium versions, and add chopped fresh or frozen vegetables.

– Convert carbs to whole grain, such as brown rice, barley, oats, buckwheat and whole wheat bread. They help fill you up with fewer calories and can improve your cholesterol.

– Don't drink your calories: Cut out sugary sodas and teas. If you replace one sugary drink with zero-calorie seltzer water flavored with lemon, mint or other natural flavors, you can avoid 10 teaspoons of sugar. Cream in coffee and alcohol can also be sources of extra calories.

– Avoid snacking. Snacking can be a problem especially when people are home watching TV, socializing at a party or surfing the internet. Instead, stock up on sugarless gum with a strong mint flavor, and when you feel a snack attack coming on, reach for the gum.

–Eat at home. A Consumer Reports survey found eating home cooked meals was a top habit of successful losers. Restaurant meals tend to be higher in sodium and higher in fat than what you would normally cook at home.

You still have to make healthy choices, though, including more vegetables, more whole grains and brothy soups.


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