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Your Summer Weight Loss Program - Healthy Eating

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Updated May 14, 2012

The Fat Tracker

The Fat Tracker

The Fat Tracker
While exercise is important, often the biggest weight loss changes come from your diet. Specifically, you want to make sure you burn more calories than you eat. One way to accomplish that is to follow a diet but keep in mind that many people have trouble following strict diets, so you may find greater success in making small changes over time.

Whether you decide to follow a specific diet or not, there are a few simple tips that will help you stay in control of your eating:

  • Keep a food journal. The first step in making changes is to be aware of your choices. Keep a food journal for a week and write everything down. You'll be surprised at how many extra calories you eat and you'll also be pleased to find small ways to cut calories without starving yourself.
  • Don't skip meals. Many people drastically cut calories when they want fast weight loss and skipping meals is a popular choice. The problem is, this can actually backfire. Not only will you tend to eat more, you may actually slow down your metabolism which means your body is burning fewer calories.
  • Drink more water or tea. Staying hydrated will ward off fatigue and help you deal with hunger and tea is often a great way to curb your appetite. When you get the afternoon hungries, consider having a cup of calorie-free green tea (or whatever kind you like) instead of a candy bar.
  • Watch your portion sizes. This is always an obvious one when it comes to cutting calories and probably the most difficult one to follow. After all, what's a portion size? One way to manage portion sizes is to use smaller plates and bowls. It's an easy way to cut your portions without feeling like you're missing out.
  • Eat high fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains fill you up without adding calories. One way my husband and I watch our calories is by always eating the fruits and veggies first before eating the rest of our meals.

For more tips, check out Jennifer Scott's Quick Tips for Weight Loss.

Make Your Own Changes

You have a few tips under your belt, but now you need to figure out exactly how you'll approach your diet. Below are a few choices for how you can get started.

Follow a Structured Diet

Most of us have followed a diet at one time or another and they can be helpful in at least teaching us healthier ways to eat. If you choose to followed a structured plan like Atkins or Weight Watchers, you'll want to do some research first to find a diet that's right for you. These resources offer information about different diets to help you get started.

Make Small Changes in Your Current Diet

This is actually my favorite approach to losing weight. It's not as sexy as a diet - with most diets, you cut your calories so much that you end up losing weight more quickly than you do with small changes. However, with this approach, you don't have to give up your favorite foods, you don't have to change how you eat overnight and the changes you make are more likely to be permanent.

Some ideas for making small, healthy changes:

  • Add healthier foods to your diet. It's always easier to add to your diet rather than take foods away. Instead of cutting out entire food groups, try adding something healthy to each meal and eat it first. Salads, fruit, whole grain bread or a glass of water are just a few ideas and you'll find that filling up on the healthier stuff leaves less room for the naughty stuff.
  • Change one part of your diet. Another way to approach this is to choose one unhealthy food you eat and get rid of it or finding a substitute. Put all your energy towards changing just that one bad habit and leave the rest alone. It's easier to give up that Coke or candy bar when you know everything else stays the same.
  • Eat out less. Just cutting out one or two nights of eating out can make a major difference in your waistline. When you cook your own meals, you know exactly what you're eating, control how much you get and you can make sure the ingredients you use are good for you.
  • Try new foods and recipes. Finding easy, healthy recipes helps make nutritious eating more enjoyable. Trying new things is the only way eating healthy can become a way of life, so experiment - watch the Food Network or pick up some recipe books at the library or bookstore. Invest in healthy eating and you may find you actually enjoy it.

The trick to watching your calories is to find a strategy you can keep up with on a regular basis. If you work crazy hours, have kids to take care of and have no time, choosing a complicated diet plan may not be the best idea. On the other hand, if you have more time, learning how to make healthy meals may actually be something you would enjoy.

Next Page: Putting it all together

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