By: Lacey Thacker
In the deepest recesses of our brain, there’s a small part that demands we eat when food is available, in case it’s ever not available. Consequently, diets that make us feel hungry often don’t last long enough to be successful.
While we might go through periods of time in which we choose to restrain or drastically alter our diet in order to see a more immediate change in our bodies or health, most agree it’s best to implement a healthy, permanent lifestyle change. Of course, sometimes we just need to lose a little weight, and may adjust our intake accordingly. The tips below are useful guidelines, whether making a permanent or temporary change.
It may sound strange to start off with water, but it’s actually quite logical. Often, we think we are hungry, when in fact we are just thirsty. Additionally, proper hydration allows digestion to occur more easily. When you first feel those 3pm hunger pangs, consider whether you have had enough water. Even if you think you have, drink a few ounces and give yourself ten minutes before you start snacking. On the flipside, don’t drink your calories. The more soda, sweetened and creamed coffee, alcohol, and so forth that you drink, the less allowance you’ll have for food at meals and snacks. Eight ounces of healthy food is more filling, and typically lower in calories, than eight ounces of soda. Try water and hot or cold herbal teas instead.
Don't skip your meals! It’s so tempting to skip meals when trying to lose or maintain weight, but it confuses your metabolism and can make you cranky from blood sugar fluctuations. Recent studies suggest there’s no substantial difference in eating six small meals per day compared to three regular meals, so pick the routine that is most comfortable for you and stick to it. Include breakfast, whatever route you go, as starting the day by fueling up on healthy foods can help make you more alert and energetic, as well as kick-start your metabolism.
Sugar processes into empty carbs, so avoid sweets for the most part. This includes baked goods. You can certainly eat a sandwich, but avoid the croissant at the coffee shop. Again—like soda and other calorie-laden beverages, sweets and baked goods are high in calories and low in nutrition, so save those calories for your proper meals. Instead, think fiber. Fiber, so abundant in vegetables, is what keeps us satisfied and encourages heart and colon health. It’s a key ingredient to any healthy diet.
No matter what you choose to eat, or how often, it will likely take a week or two for your junk food cravings to go away, which means there’s one key ingredient you’ve got to have in quantity—discipline. The best plan can only be implemented through your choices, so take it one day at a time, forgive yourself if you slip a little, and realize the results of your choices will be their own reward!