Whatever your reasons or motivation, here are some things you can do to get started.
If weight loss is your goal, don’t set yourself up for failure, disappointment or future health problems. Make this a positive experience and start with small, achievable goals. Sustainable weight loss means losing no more than one or two pounds a week. Crash diets or overly restrictive diets generally cause your metabolism to slow down and make it harder to shed pounds as your body goes into preservation mode.
Leftover holiday treats and candy should be discarded, and so should any full-fat cheeses and other full-fat dairy products. Remember, you can eat or prepare only the foods you have at hand. You can’t polish off a pint of ice cream that isn’t there.
Buy whole grain pastas, breads and grains; and stock up with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Don’t sabotage your efforts by purchasing unhealthy foods you have a difficult time avoiding. Make a shopping list before you go to reduce impulse purchases.
You only have control over what you prepare and making it your self will help you reduce added fats, salt and sugar. This should also help you keep portions in check.
Examine food labels and nutrition facts, and understand what exactly constitutes a serving size. Be aware that a food package often contains more than one serving, and that the nutritional analysis label refers to one portion, not necessarily the whole package. Use smaller plates, bowls and cups… it works!
As well as being an important source of vitamins and minerals, a good breakfast comprising whole-grain cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk, fruit and yogurt will keep your blood-sugar levels stable and sustain you until lunchtime. Skipping meals usually leads to poor choices.
Water is essential for digestion, and also helps us feel fuller for longer. Sometimes we confuse thirst for hunger, so keep water readily available and sip it frequently — you may end up eating less.
Fish is naturally low in fat, and fish that have higher levels, such as salmon, contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
If snacking is one of your eating behaviors, make sure you reach for nutritious snacks such as fruit, low-fat yogurt, whole-grain crackers, air-popped popcorn or raw veggies. An occasional cookie or square of chocolate are not the end of the world but should be considered special treats. If you have made over your pantry then it shouldn’t be a big issue.
When planning and plating your meals, aim for increasing your vegetables to ½ of your plate at least 5 days/week. Add extra veggies to casseroles and soups. Salads are great, but incorporating more cooked vegetables reduces the feeling of “dieting or being restricted”.
Always eat in kitchen away from computers and TV. Serving meals “family style” can increase unnecessary intake. Getting second helping doesn’t need to be so easy. Portion foods onto plates and bowls to assist with the importance of accountability!
It’s one thing to watch our intake of fat and calories, but to complete the transition to a healthier lifestyle, you need to include some regular exercise. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!