Dieting 101 – where do I start?

If you have never dieted before all of the information out there can seem a little overwhelming. There are so many different diet and exercise programs and everyone seems to have a different opinion. Well, in adding to those opinions I believe that the key to successful weight management is to create healthy habits SLOWLY. Most people have a moment of awakening where they realize they have let themselves go just that little too much and they launch into an all out diet and exercise program to battle the fat. Unfortunately, a few weeks or at best months, down the track they are likely to feel pretty disillusioned and are right back at square one.

red pepper with measuring tapeThe key to long term weight loss is to start adopting one or two healthy new habits each week so that your body and mind has time to adjust to the changes, which means you are more likely to stick to them.

So here are some basic principles off the top of my head:

1. Eat little and often – preferably 5-6 small meals (use a side plate rather than a dinner plate to help with portion control). This will increase your metabolic rate and stop you from getting those energy slumps, which can lead to the dreaded binge!

2. Eat protein with every meal. In case you don't know what protein is here are some examples: meat, poultry, fish, tofu and other soy products, beans, lentils and legumes, nuts, seeds and nut butters, quinoa and other whole grains, dairy such as cottage cheese, hard cheeses, yogurt, milk, protein powders and eggs. Protein helps you to feel full longer and will stop you from craving carbohydrate rich foods that can cause weight gain.

3. Drink more water. By water I don't mean drinks containing water – I mean the pure stuff! Try sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime if you don't like straight water. If you drink a glass of water before each meal you will feel fuller and eat less.

4. Replace high calorie snacks with low calorie alternatives. Some of these might include: fruit, low fat yogurt, air popped pop corn, low fat flavored rice crackers, wasabi dried peas, pretzels, rice cakes with some sort of savory spread or the flavored rice cakes. If you can get away from just eating dry snacks you could also add some low fat cheese, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, vegetable sticks with hummus or other low calorie dips. Make sure that you don't end up eating more of these foods because they are lower in calories. 

5. Cut fat from your cooking methods. Bake, broil, poach or steam instead of using methods of cooking with lots of fat. In order not to lose flavor add some herbs and spices instead. Chili is known to increase your metabolic rate due to its thermal effect.

6. Don't eat carbohydrates at night, have lean protein and unlimited vegetables instead. Excess of any food group will be turned into fat. Protein is necessary for muscle reparation while you are sleeping, but you would already have eaten enough carbohydrates throughout the day to build up the necessary stores.

7. Switch from white carbohydrates to wholemeal. Cut out white bread, pasta, rice, flour products and replace with the wholemeal or mulitgrain alternatives.

8. Now that you have started making some healthy changes in your diet you could get more serious by buying yourself a calorie counter book or using an online calorie website like Calorie King.You might be very surprised at how many calories are in the foods you eat. The easiest way I have found is to write a list of all the foods you would eat in a regular day/week and then to look them up one by one. This is just to build awareness, you don't even have to start counting calories daily or anything, it's just to show you that some foods are better than others so that you can make wiser choices. Of course if you do want to get really serious, you could start sticking to a calorie controlled diet, in which case you can go online to find out your weight loss calorie level and work out a menu plan.

9. Exercise – incorporate some form of exercise. Any calories you burn that you didn't before will contribute towards your weight loss. Walking is great to start with. If you like aerobics then you could get some workout DVDs to do at home. Do something that you find fun and will stick to! 

10. Think positively. You have to believe that you can do it. If you stuff up, which you definitely will, then just get right back on track again. Think long term. Your main goal should be to get healthy now so that you don't run the risk of diseases later.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ivette Sandoual November 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

You made some nice points there. I did a search on the subject and found most individuals will consent with your website.


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