A series of small lifestyle changes can help you lose weight—and keep it off for good. Learn how to stop dieting and make honest behavioral moves that will keep you slim. From Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You.
Small Change 1: Create a healthy eating schedule. Don’t skip meals. Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and ideally two snacks a day. When you eat every three to four hours, you’re less likely to overindulge or eat the wrong foods.
Small Change 2: Brighten your plate, naturally. Build all your meals with low-calorie fruits and veggies. They help fill you up without filling you out. Half your plate should contain veggies, especially at dinner. Have fruit for dessert more often than not.
Small Change 3: Think before you drink (sip, guzzle, or chug). Always think about your drink. Don’t waste calories on sugary beverages with no nutritional content. Choose water, seltzer, low-fat milk, and other low-calorie, sugar-free beverages instead.
Small Change 4: Give your carbs a makeover. Carbs are not the enemy. What really matters is how much, what kind, and which “extras.” Choose high-fiber carbs, watch those portions, and dress them with low-calorie and low-fat toppings.
Small Change 5: Go easy on the “extras” and make savory swaps for old standbys. Most important words to learn: on the side. Swap high-fat dressings and toppings for low-fat alternatives, whether you’re eating in or dining out.
Small Change 6: Skinny your meat. Eat less high-fat beef, more fish, and remove skin from poultry. Bypass fried meats, chicken, and fish for those that are grilled, broiled, and roasted. Be adventurous and have one meatless meal per week.
Small Change 7: Eat the right kinds (and amounts) of fat. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, but eating too much of it will. Incorporate healthy fats into your meals—for example, an ounce of nuts, a fifth of an avocado, and a teaspoon of healthy oils (olive, canola, omega-3s). Limit the amount of processed foods you eat.
Small Change 8: Tame your sweet tooth and your saltshaker. Start your day with a balanced breakfast and have healthy snacks on hand at all times, and you’ll help keep your cravings at bay.
Small Change 9: Share food and good times with advance planning—and without guilt. Don’t use vacations, holidays, and other events as an excuse to overeat. Make special occasions more about socializing and less about the food. Always have an eating plan in place before an event.
Small Change 10: Get moving. You need to make the time. Devote 30 minutes, five days a week to a brisk walk or other workout, walk more in your everyday life, and strive to make workout time, playtime. Above all, never lose sight of your exercise “why”—when it comes to exercise, motivation is everything!