These diet tips from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) are too good not to share! Some are new, some you've heard before, but they're repeated because they work as parts of healthy weight loss programs.
This treasure trove of nutritional wisdom answers the eleven most-common diet dilemmas. They could change your life-starting today.
I Can Only Handle One Diet Change Right Now. What Should I Do?
1. Add just one fruit or vegie serving daily. Get comfortable with that, then add an extra serving until you reach 8 to 10 a day.
2. Eat at least two servings of fruit or vegies at every meal.
3. Resolve never to supersize your food portions—unless you want to supersize your clothes.
4. Make eating purposeful, not mindless. Whenever you put food in your mouth, peel it, unwrap it, plate it and sit. Engage all of the senses in the pleasure of nourishing your body.
5. Start eating a big breakfast. It helps you eat fewer total kilojoules throughout the day.
6. Make sure your plate is half veggies and/or fruit at both lunch and dinner.
Are There Any Easy Tricks to Help Me Cut Kilojoules?
7. Eating out? Halve it, and bag the rest. A typical restaurant main such as Thai green curry can contain 2,500 to 3,000 kilojoules, not even counting entrée, drinks and dessert.
8. When dining out, make it automatic: Order one dessert to share.
9. Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.
10. See what you eat. Plate your food instead of eating out of the takeaway container or bag.
11. Eat the low-kJ items on your plate first, then graduate. Start with salads, vegies and soups, and eat meats and carbs last. By the time you get to them, you'll be full enough to be content with smaller portions of the high-kilojoule choices.
12. Instead of full-fat milk, switch to skim. If you drink one 350 ml glass a day, you'll lose 2 kg in a year.
13. Juice has as many kilojoules as soft drink. Set a limit of one glass of fruit juice a day.
14. Get kilojoules from foods you chew, not drinks. Have fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.
15. Keep a food diary. It really works wonders for healthy weight loss.
16. Follow the Chinese saying: "Eat until you are eight-tenths full."
17. Use mustard instead of mayo.
18. Eat more soup. The non-creamy ones are filling but low-kJ.
19. Cut back on or cut out kilojoule-laden drinks such as soft drink, sweet tea, lemonade, etc. People have lost weight by making just this one change. If you have a 600 ml bottle of Coca-Cola every day, switch to Diet Coke, or better still, water. You’ll lose up to 11 kg in a year.
20. Take your lunch to work. Stuck for ideas? See 8 healthiest weekday lunches.
21. Sit when you eat.
22. Dilute juice with water.
23. Have mostly vegies for lunch.
24. Eat at home.
25. Limit alcohol to weekends
How Can I Eat More Vegies?
26. Have a V8 or tomato juice instead of a Diet Coke at 3 pm.
27. Dress up your vegies to make them delicious: Drizzle maple syrup over carrots or sprinkle chopped nuts on green beans. Try broccoli sauteed with pine nuts and sultanas.
28. Mix three different tins of beans and some diet Italian dressing. Eat this three-bean salad all week.
29. Don't forget that vegetable soup counts as a vegetable.
30. Rediscover the sweet potato.
31. Use pre-bagged baby spinach everywhere: instead of lettuce in sandwiches, heated in soups, wilted in hot pasta and added to salads.
32. Spend the extra few dollars to buy vegetables that are already washed and cut up.
33. Really hate vegies? Relax. If you love fruit, eat plenty of them instead; they are just as healthy (especially colourful ones such as oranges, mangoes and melons).
34. Keep seven bags of your favourite frozen vegetables on hand. Mix any combination, microwave, and top with your favourite low-fat dressing. Enjoy 3 to 4 cups a day. Makes a great quick dinner on all healthy weight-loss programs.
Can You Give Me a Mantra That Will Help Me Stick to My Diet?
35. "The best portion of high-kilojoule foods is the smallest one. The best portion of vegetables is the largest one. Full stop."
36. "I'll ride the wave. My cravings will disappear after 10 minutes if I turn my attention elsewhere."
37. "I want to be around to see my grandchildren, so I can forgo a Tim Tam now."
38. "I am a work in progress."
39. "It's more stressful to continue being fat than to stop overeating."
I Eat Healthy, but I'm Overweight. What Mistakes Could I Be Making without Realising It?
40. Skipping meals. Many people on weight-loss programs diet by day and binge by night.
41. Don't "graze" yourself fat. You can easily munch 2,500 kJ of pretzels or cereal without realising it.
42. Eating pasta like crazy. A serving of pasta is 1 cup, but some people routinely eat 4 cups.
43. Eating deceptively healthy-looking muffins and banana bread for snacks.
44. Ignoring "Serving Size" on the Nutrition Facts panel. Learn to read a food label properly.
45. Snacking on bowls of nuts. Nuts are healthy but dense with kilojoules. Put those bowls away, and use nuts as a garnish instead of a snack.
46. Thinking all energy bars and fruit smoothies are low-kJ.
What Can I Eat for a Healthy Low-Cal Dinner if I Don't Want to Cook?
47. A smoothie made with fat-free milk, frozen fruit and wheat germ. See super-healthy smoothie recipes here.
48. The smallest fast-food burger (with mustard and ketchup, not mayo) and a no-kJ diet beverage. Then at home, have an apple or some carrot sticks.
49. A peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of skim milk and an apple.
50. Pre-cooked chicken strips and microwaved frozen broccoli topped with Parmesan cheese.
51. A healthy frozen meal with a salad and a glass of skim milk.
52. Scramble eggs in a non-stick pan. Pop some asparagus in the microwave, and add wholemeal toast. If your cholesterol levels are normal, you can have up to seven eggs a week!
53. A bag of frozen vegetables heated in the microwave, topped with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts.
54. Pre-bagged salad topped with tinned tuna, grape tomatoes, shredded low-fat cheese and low-kJ Italian dressing.
55. Keep lean sandwich fixings on hand: wholemeal bread, sliced turkey, reduced-fat cheese, tomatoes, mustard with horseradish. Make a perfect sandwich every time.
56. Heat up a tin of good soup.
57. Cereal, fruit and skim milk makes a good meal anytime.
58. Try a vegie sandwich from Subway.
59. Pre-cut fruit for a salad and add yoghurt.
What's Your Best Advice for Avoiding Those Extra Kilos That Creep Up on Christmas/Birthdays/Special Occasions?
60. Don't tell yourself, "It's okay, I’m on holidays." That opens the door to weeks of splurging.
61. Remember, EAT before you meet. Have this small meal before you go to any parties: a hardboiled Egg, Apple, and a Thirst quencher (water, soda water, diet soft drink, tea).
62. As obvious as it sounds, don't stand near the food at parties. Make the effort, and you'll find you eat less.
63. At a buffet? Eating a little of everything guarantees high kilojoules. Decide on three or four things, only one of which is energy-dense. Save that for last so there's less chance of overeating.
64. For the duration of the festive season, wear your well-fitted clothes that don't allow much room for expansion.
65. Give it away! After company leaves, give away leftover food to neighbours or take it to work the next day.
66. Walk around the mall three times before you start shopping.
67. Make exercise a non-negotiable priority.
68. Dance to music with your family in your home. One dietitian reported that when she asks her patients to do this, initially they just smile, but once they've done it, they say it is one of the easiest ways to involve the whole family in exercise.
MORE: LOW KJ PARTY SNACKS
How Can I Control a Raging Sweet Tooth?
69. Once in a while, have a lean salad for lunch or dinner, and save the meal's kilojoules for a full dessert.
70. Are you the kind of person who does better if you make up your mind to do without sweets and just not have them around? Or are you going to do better if you have a limited amount of sweets every day? Some people find that they can avoid bingeing if they allow themselves small treats every day.
71. If your family thinks they need a very sweet treat every night, try to strike a balance between offering healthy choices but allowing them some free will. Compromise with low-fat ice cream and fruit, or sometimes just fruit with a dollop of whipped cream.
72. Try 2 weeks without sweets. It's amazing how your cravings vanish.
73. Eat more fruit. A person who gets enough fruit in their diet doesn't have a raging sweet tooth.
74. Eat your sweets, just eat them smart! Carve out about 400 kJ per day for your favourite sweet. That amounts to about 25 g of chocolate, half a modest slice of cake, or 1/2 cup of regular ice cream.
75. Try these smart little sweets: sugar-free hot cocoa, frozen red grapes, sugar-free gum or Paddle Pops.
How Can I Conquer My Downfall: Bingeing at Night?
76. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. The majority of people who struggle with night eating are those who skip meals or don't eat balanced meals during the day.
77. Eat your evening meal in the kitchen or dining room, sitting down at the table.
78. Drink cold, unsweetened raspberry tea. It tastes great and keeps your mouth busy.
79. Change your night-time schedule. It will take effort, but it will pay off. You need something that will occupy your mind and hands.
80. If you're emotional-eating at night, you need to focus on getting in touch with what's going on and taking care of yourself in a way that really works. Find a method of coping with your stress that doesn’t involve food.
81. Put a sign on the kitchen and refrigerator doors: "Closed after Dinner."
82. Brush your teeth right after dinner to remind you of your weight loss goals: No more food.
83. Eat without engaging in any other simultaneous activity. No reading, watching TV, or sitting at the computer.
84. Remember: eating late at night won't cause weight gain on healthy weight-loss programs. It's how many kilojoules—not when you eat them—that counts.
How Can I Reap Added Health Benefits from My Dieting?
85. Diet or fat-free isn't always your best bet. Research has found that none of the lycopene or alpha- or beta-carotene that fight cancer and heart disease is absorbed from salads with fat-free dressing. Only slightly more is absorbed with reduced-fat dressing; the most is absorbed with full-fat dressing. But remember, use your dressing in moderate amounts.
86. Skipping breakfast will leave you tired and craving energy-dense foods by mid-morning. Try this sweet, filling, antioxidant-rich breakfast: In a blender, process 1 cup fat-free yoghurt, 1 1/3 cup frozen strawberries , 1 peeled kiwi, and 1 peeled banana. Pulse until mixture is milkshake consistency. Makes one 2-cup serving; 1457 kJ (348 calories) and 1.5 g fat.
87. If you're famished by 4 p.m. and have no alternative but an office vending machine, reach for the nuts—the same goes if your only choices are what's available in the hotel minibar.
88. Next time you're feeling wiped out in late afternoon, forgo that cup of coffee and reach for a cup of yoghurt instead. The combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat in a 200 g serving of low-fat yoghurt will give you a sense of fullness and wellbeing that coffee can't match, as well as some vital nutrients. If you haven't eaten in 3 to 4 hours, your blood glucose levels are probably dropping, so eating a small amount of nutrient-rich food will give your brain and your body a boost.
89. Making just a few diet changes to your pantry shelves can get you a lot closer to your weight-loss goals. Here's what to do: If you use corn and peanut oil, replace it with olive oil. Same goes for breads—go for wholemeal. Swap fatty cold meats like salami for tinned tuna, sliced turkey breast, and lean roast beef. Change from drinking whole milk to skim milk or low-fat soy milk. This is hard for a lot of people so try weaning yourself down to low-fat before you go skim.
90. Nothing's less appetising than a crisper drawer full of mushy vegetables. Frozen vegetables store much better, and maintain nutrients better than fresh. Food suppliers typically freeze vegies just a few hours after harvest, locking in the nutrients. Fresh vegies, on the other hand, often spend days in the back of a truck before they reach your supermarket.
91. Worried about the fat content in your peanut butter? While peanut butter is high in fat and kilojoules, it contains mostly monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) that help shift belly fat. Plus it’s loaded with protein to keep you fuller for longer.
Eating Less Isn't Enough—What Exercising Tips Will Help Me Shed Kilos?
92. Overeating is not the result of exercise. Vigorous exercise won't stimulate you to overeat. It's just the opposite. Exercise at any level helps curb your appetite immediately following the workout.
93. When you're exercising, you shouldn't wait for thirst to strike before you take a drink. By the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Try this: Drink at least 500 mls of water, two hours before you exercise. Then drink another glass an hour before and sip regularly during your workout. Make sure you drink a few glasses after you're done exercising.
94. Tune in to an audio book while you walk. It'll keep you going longer and looking forward to the next walk—and the next chapter! Check your local library for a great selection. Look for a murder mystery; you might walk so far you'll need to take a cab home!
95. Think yoga's too serene to burn kilojoules? Think again. You can burn 1000 to 1500 kilojoules during an hour-long class (that's as much as you'd burn from an hour of walking)! Plus, you'll improve muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance.
96. Not drinking enough can hamper your healthy weight loss programs' efforts. That's because dehydration can slow your metabolism by 3 per cent, or about 190 fewer kilojoules burned a day, which in a year could mean weighing half a kilo more. The key to water isn't how much you drink, it's how frequently you drink it. Small amounts sipped often work better than 500 ml gulped down at once.
How Can I Manage My Emotional Eating and Get the Support I Need?
97. A dietitian can help you find healthy ways to manage your weight loss with food. The Dietitians Association of Australia has an online tool to help you find a local practitioner.
98. Use your community to help you shift kilos. US researchers set up exercise and healthy weight loss programs in 16 churches. More than 500 women participated and after a year the most successful lost an average of 9 kg. Engaging with a group of people you feel comfortable with can help you stick to your weight-loss program.
99. Here's another reason to keep level-headed all the time: US research found that women less able to cope with stress—shown by blood pressure and heart rate elevations—ate twice as many fatty snacks as stress-resistant women did, even after the stress stopped (in this case, 25 minutes of periodic jackhammer-level noise and an unsolvable maze).
100. Sitting at a computer may help you slim down. When researchers at Brown University School of Medicine put 92 people on online healthy weight loss programs for a year, those who received weekly e-mail counselling shed 2.5 more kilos than those who had no counselling. Counsellors provided weekly feedback on diet and exercise logs, answered questions, and cheered them on. Most major online diet programs offer many of these features. Sign up to the Prevention newsletter for free weekly tips in your inbox.
MORE: LOSE WEIGHT ANYWHERE