Welcome to part two of my weight loss series of articles, How To Lose Weight Without Dieting. In this article, we’re going to focus on how to eat properly for losing weight or maintaining a goal weight, without actually following a diet plan or depriving yourself of anything you truly want to eat.
No, this isn’t going to be one of those articles that tells you to take pills, cut things out of your diet, or to actually get on a diet. Nope, this article series is going to talk about practical tips in order to lose or maintain your current weight, without dieting, without exercising so to speak, and without depriving yourself of anything. Yes, it’s true – you don’t have to starve yourself or exercise hours a day to lose weight or maintain it.
Trust me, I’ve been fat, I’ve been thin, and I’ve been everywhere in between, and I do know what works and what doesn’t. It doesn’t always mean I follow my own advice or take heed of the research I’ve done, but I have tried and tested these theories, and if you follow them, they do actually work!
We all want to know how to lose weight or maintain our weight and look as healthy and attractive as possible, but most of us simply don’t have the knowledge, time, money, or inclination to ‘diet’ and exercise in order to get there. The culprit in being overweight rarely is any one problem, but a host of poor choices that all add up together to weight gain. What we’re going to discuss here are ways to change those things, and watch the pounds melt off almost effortlessly.
Tip #1: Keep Blood Sugar Level – Snack!
This is absolutely essential for weight loss and maintenance, and it helps a lot too with just overall health. If you allow your blood sugar level to rise and dip, you will experience bouts of energy followed by lows of grogginess, as well as experiencing hunger pangs and cravings.
Eating several small meals a day, perhaps 5-7 small meals instead of 2-3 large ones, will help keep blood sugar levels lower, and you will find you will be eating more often, but actually will consume less food and calories overall. By small meals, this means meals of 300-500 calories each, compared to the average meal of about 1200 calories.
Tip #2: Eat Whatever You Want
I know this sounds contrary to every diet plan you have probably ever read or tried. Truth is, if you deprive yourself of something you truly want, you will feel lacking, and the psychological manifestation of that is you will crave that item – it will become a forbidden pleasure – a treat – something you just HAVE to eat.
The trick here is never to deprive yourself of anything you truly want, just limit the amount you eat. It’s okay to have a couple of bites of a chocolate candy bar, but it’s not okay to eat the entire box of chocolates in one sitting. A slice of pie satisfies your craving, but eating ½ a pie is just not good for anyone. Moderation is the key. Eat enough to satisfy your craving and not deprive yourself of anything.
Tip #3: Eat Slowly, Chew Properly
It has been determined that the body takes about 20 minutes from ingesting food before it registers that feeling of fullness that having eaten brings. If we shovel food in our mouths in less than 15 minutes, we over consume before we ever let our body register the food is there. Slow down! Eat slowly, take small bites, and make a meal last a good 30 minutes, like it should.
I realize we are not always able to sit down 5-7 times a day for 30 minutes and eat, but when we do sit down for a larger meal, and not just a snack, we should take the time to really taste and enjoy our food, chewing each bite carefully, and letting the body take the time to register that we have actually eaten, before the food is already gone.
Tip #4: Eat a Variety of Tastes and Textures
A lot of weight loss is really about changing your lifestyle, and changing your lifestyle is really about changing your mindset. It’s a psychological game, in which we try to trick the body into doing what we want it to do, by making the brain think we’ve given it what we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe we need. Make sense?
If all we ever ate was mashed potatoes and nothing else, we would probably get pretty burned out on mashed potatoes, and we would start to eat without really even being aware we are doing it. When trying to lose weight, we need to be conscious of what we eat, aware of it, so that it registers in our brains that we’ve eaten.
Human beings are creatures of habit. We very easily make patterns and associations and then certain behaviors become nothing more than routine we don’t even think about. When we do something outside of that routine, it registers in our brains in a different way, making it stand out.
Eating is no exception. Eat a variety of foods. Buy foods you have never tried before. Sample different cheeses at the deli (most delis will let you do this for free). Try fruits that are seasonal and you can’t buy year round. Try a new flavor of dressing. You want to eat both soft and crunchy foods, things you swallow and things you chew. You want to try to add something salty, something sweet, something sour, something spicy to every day. The more variety and flavor you ingest, the more your brain will register you have eaten, and the less likely you will be to get cravings or simply ‘forget’ you have eaten.
Tip #5: Make Eating an Event
America is one of the few countries in the civilized world that doesn’t make eating an ‘event’ anymore. Sure, we have holiday meals, and we have eating as a form of entertainment (dinner dates, etc), but Americans have, somewhere along the way, quit making eating the event it once was.
Eating has become something we do on the run, because we have to, and not because we want to or enjoy the experience. Breaking bread is a cultural event in many countries, so much so that many traditions and even some religious ceremonies surround eating a meal.
Families eat together in the evenings, and the entire family has their role in cooking and preparing the meal. Think about the movies of the big Italian families, with pasta and wine, and lots of conversation. Or the Greek families who all bring dishes and celebrate just being a family, with song and dance, conversation, and a meal. Several Jewish traditions have to do with both eating and fasting and then coming together to break the fast.
Eating should be an event! Food tastes good, and when you make eating an entire experience and not just about a bodily function, you will learn to appreciate food more, and will make better choices. Plus, when conversation, celebration, harmony, entertainment, and camaraderie all take center stage to the actual meal, you will likely eat less and enjoy yourself and life more.
Tip #6: Drink Water – Cold Works Best
Drink cold or cool water with your meals. Water will help you to feel full faster, and cold water actually slows down the digestive processes, allowing you to eat less, but stay feeling full longer. Not to mention, we need water, and most people just don’t drink enough of it. Water helps with health, skin, hair and nails, and so much more. Drink water, even when you are not eating, but definitely have water with your meal.
If you’re one of those people who simply can’t stand tap or bottled water that is plain, try some of the new flavored waters on the market now. Crystal Light, Sugar Free Kool-aid, and decaffeinated teas are also good choices for adding more water to your diet.
Tip #7: Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine is a drug. It stimulates the body, and some simply believe they cannot wake without it. Coffee, tea, chocolate-many of our favorites, all contain caffeine. So do most sodas, and sodas also contain calories-empty calories.
Caffeine spikes blood sugar, which can help cause a ‘rush’ of a small ‘high’ but then the blood sugar plummets. This causes two things: cravings and hunger pangs – lethargy and lack of energy. Caffeine is a big detriment to weight loss efforts, and it should be avoided as much as possible.
Tip #8: No Fast Food, No Prepared Foods, No Pre-packaged Foods
Convenience, speed, price… I know, you want to buy those easy to prepare, or go through the drive thru and shove it in your face while in the car, types of meals. The problem is, these are the absolute worst thing you can do for weight loss. A burger at a restaurant chain like McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese has a whopping 510 calories, and 220 of those are from fat, according to their nutritional facts, found HERE.
Now, let’s look at a homemade hamburger instead. You go to the store and purchase lean ground beef, and either pan fry or BBQ grill it. Then, you use about a quarter pound of that lean beef to make your burger, on a bun that is larger than the McDonald’s bun, and you include lettuce, two tomato slices, some onion slices, mustard, and a slice of reduced calorie or skim milk cheese. Season to taste, and you have a homemade hamburger that is slightly larger than McDonald’s burger, tastes much better, and has an average of only 350 calories. Big difference!
Plus, think of this too, instead of sitting in your car or at a restaurant and letting someone else do the work, you are up on your feet, cooking and doing something, which burns more calories than just sitting around letting someone else take care of it. So not only do you consume less calories, but you burn more calories, and thus, you are aiding in reaching your weight loss goals.
Tip #9: Eat Only When Hungry
Many times, overweight people will confess to eating out of boredom or emotional emptiness. Eating should be an event, fun and pleasurable, but when we eat simply because there’s nothing better to do or because we are seeking to change a mood, we will likely consume things that are not the healthiest choices. Let yourself skip a meal or two in a row, so you can learn again what hunger really feels like. Feel that rumble in your stomach, that feeling of really being hungry, and then learn to recognize it.
Whenever you have a thought that you might want to eat something, ask yourself if you truly feel hungry. If you don’t, then find something else to occupy your mind instead of eating. If you still can’t get your mind off eating something, try drinking a glass of water and wait about 10 or 15 minutes before you actually eat something. If you are still hungry at that time, fix yourself a snack, but choose a healthy one. Carrot sticks, celery, a handful of nuts, or a piece of fruit are good choices. Wait another 10 or 15 minutes, and you probably will find the craving leaves you after a small snack.
Tip #10: When You Eat, Eat, Don’t Do Other Things
It’s easy to sit and watch television while eating, or surf the internet and chow down, but when you do this, your mind is not focused on actually eating, and therefore, your brain never truly registers that you ate. When it’s time to eat, actually take the time to eat and don’t let yourself do other things while you are eating. Enjoy your meal, taste it, experience it, and make eating your focus when you are eating.
Now, it’s important to note that these tips are not going to lead to rapid weight loss overnight. Losing weight or maintaining your ideal weight is all about lifestyle choices and changes to come inline with healthy eating and habits. These hints and tips will help you maintain or lose weight when you are actively trying to lose weight, and they’ll do it without diet plans, pills, or strenuous exercise.
Still, it’s important to note that these are just ‘tricks’ to fool the mind and the body, and that the real goal here is to consume fewer calories throughout the day than you burn during your activities. Just breathing burns calories but walking burns more and more aggressive aerobic exercise burns even more. If you want to lose weight quickly and safely, you should combine reducing calories with increased physical activity.
One last word on changing your diet and exercise plan: it is always best to consult a physician before beginning a radical diet shift or change or adding exercise to your routine.