There are plenty of fad diets on how to eat. As someone that used to be overweight, it’s tough to distinguish which is the right way to eat to live a healthy life. Diet plans that have you change all your existing habits rarely work. It’s unrealistic to believe a person can change everything at once. I preach that healthy eating is a LIFESTYLE, not a diet.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight: My Experience
Track your calories — This can be VERY difficult to do in our busy lives so you have to make a commitment to do this. Losing/maintain weight is really just simple math. If you want to lose weight, burn more calories than you intake (recommended deficit of 500 calories per day to lose 1 lb a week). If you want to maintain, burn and intake around the same number of calories.
There are plenty of websites to tell you how much you SHOULD intake. Find an app or write down your meals to see how you are doing. This makes you more accountable for what and how much you eat.
Meal planning is a MUST. Do not leave it up to the last minute to figure out what you will eat. You may make the easiest choice which is usually the unhealthiest choice (fast food, packaged processed foods etc.).
Cook more. Cooking rather than heating up processed meals is a great way to control the nutrients you put into your body. It usually ends up being less expensive per meal and can provide you with leftovers to take to work.
Eat high protein and high fiber foods. They keep you more satisfied than foods high in carbs. If you are building muscle, a high protein diet is a must.
Portion control. Try these tricks to keep yourself from over-eating:
- Restaurant portions are usually enough for 2-3 meals. Ask for a box when you get your food so you can save some for later.
- Use smaller bowls/plates when you eat at home. Studies have shown people eat less this way.
- Use plastic containers to divvy up your leftovers for the week. If you track calories, this can help you plan to make sure you will have the right amount for your meals.
Eat breakfast! This gets your metabolism going and makes your body more efficient at burning calories.
Eat 5-6 meal/snacks a day. I love to eat so eating smaller amounts every 2-3 hours keeps me satisfied and keeps me from over-eating at big meals. Eating snacks throughout the day keeps the energy level higher than eating big meals (which can make you sluggish). Store healthy snacks like almonds, beef jerky, cottage cheese at work.
Eating healthy is the best thing you can do for your health. There are tons of challenges in the American culture (over-sized portions, convenience of food, foods that are marketed as healthy but really aren’t) so eating right is incredibly difficult.
Instill Healthy Habits
Choose 1 NEW habit every month. Changing multiple things at a time is unrealistic (this is why diets have a high failure rate).
Track your progress. This should provide encouragement throughout your journey and motivate you to make the next change.
Be patient! Installing a new, healthier lifestyle is a marathon, not a race. Expect good results over a long period of time instead of right away.
Choose healthy habits that you feel you can sustain. Again, this is a lifestyle so choose new healthier foods that you enjoy and try to find as much variety as possible.
Find a friend to support and challenge you in this endeavor.
Learn other ways to get healthy and active with our GetActive toolkit.
Young Professionals Connection (YPC)
The Young Professionals Connection (YPC) promotes an environment that attracts and retains young professionals in Greater Des Moines (DSM). YPC connects young professionals to each other and to the community through social, civic, charitable and professional development endeavors. YPC members have unique opportunities to grow personally and professionally and forge lasting relationships. They engage, connect and form a foundation for their future in DSM. YPC is an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.