Though I weigh about 20 pounds more than I would like, I’ve maintained the same weight for 10 years. I exercise regularly and eat mostly all natural, made from scratch food. My cholesterol and blood pressure are both in a healthy/normal range. For me, this is a healthy weight, and one that I can maintain. My doctor agrees with me.
The other day I was having drinks with a friend and he lamented that he needs to lose 40 pounds. As we talked further about his struggle, he mentioned that his weight has gone up and down those same 40 pounds several times over the last few years. It became clear that, for him, he needs to find a way of eating that he can maintain a comfortable weight; not to diet and then go back to old bad habits of eating.
There are two ways to lose weight: eat less and exercise more. Since I’m not an expert of exercise, I will focus my tips on “eating less.” And by eating less, I really mean: consuming fewer calories. You can still take the same number of bites of food, but if you make smarter choices then you will lose weight and keep it off.
My overarching tips are to make sure you eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and get plenty of whole grains to ensure you’re getting a healthy amount of fiber. Besides the obvious benefits of fiber, it helps you stay full longer and lower cholesterol.
More specifically, knowing what sabotages good eating habits will help dictate what sort of changes you can make.
Snacking -- Because I work at home, it’s tempting to run to the fridge every five minutes for a snack. To counteract this potential sabotage, I do two things: I don’t buy unhealthy snacks and I make sure to stock up on plenty of carrots sticks, cucumbers and popping corn.
Portion Control -- When I dine out, the restaurant sets a portion before me far larger than I need. Some of my friends can eat just half and take leftovers home. I've tried, and I just don't have the will-power. Instead, I start with a salad (to make sure I get some vegetables) and then have an appetizer for my main meal. The appetizers tend to be more interesting anyway, and the portions are usually just right. If I’m still hungry – and usually I’m not – I can order a second appetizer.
I Like My Rich Fatty Foods – And really… who doesn’t? These foods are okay if consumed in moderation. If I’m eating a rich meal, I make sure to serve lots of vegetables along with it. And I start my meal with a serving of vegetables… to make sure I don’t overeat the “unhealthy” stuff before I get to my veggies.
I Drink A Lot of Juice and Soda – I’m such a thirsty person. I probably drink about a gallon of water a day. If I were to drink that in soda or juice, I would be more than 50 pounds overweight. So I drink water. Or decaf iced tea. I avoid diet sodas because the artificial sweeteners trick your system and “disrupt our body’s natural ability to count calories.” In turn, it makes it harder for people to regulate their food intake.
When I Get Hungry, I Eat What Ever’s Around -- I do the same thing… being hungry causes me to make very bad food choices. I’ll always want a hamburger instead of a salad, or pasta instead of fish. But how do you avoid getting over-hungry? It requires planning. Maybe it means making several meals on Sunday evening to have in the fridge or freezer. Or perhaps just having a few healthy snacks in the house to stave off the extreme hunger so you can make better food choices. I have several go-to healthy recipes in my repertoire that I can make in less than 30 minutes. And I stock the pantry with staple ingredients for healthy choices.
What are your tips for maintaining a healthy weight?
Here are some easy, healthy recipes from the archives:Photo credit: Open Salon