Return to site

6 Healthy Habits to Help You Slim Down

By: Tanya Humphrey BS, NDTR /The Fruiting Vine

· Nutrition Blog,weight loss,weight maintenance

Loosing weight is a challenge. For lifelong results, your focus should be on the big picture such as achieving overall good health. It's not about short-term weight loss. Try setting healthy realistic goals for yourself. Take it slow as you are more likely to succeed in reaching your goals when you tackle them one step at a time. Begin with one specific goal and track your progress by keeping a food and activity diary. “The Fruiting Vine” can help you get a personalized eating plan and help you learn how to plan your meals on your own and ahead of time. An eating plan can help you keep on track. Balancing the plate with a variety of foods is important. Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables. About one fourth of the plate should be lean meat, poultry, or fish. The other fourth of the plate should be grains (preferably whole grains). For a complete rounded meal you should include fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese. All theses foods are packed with nutrients your body needs. Do you have a food sensitivities or intolerance? Don't worry there are good alternatives in which these can be substituted. I am a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered at “The Fruiting Vine” and I can help. For now, here are a few healthy habits that you can implement into your life right now. These 6 healthy habits can make a huge difference and help you slim down.

1. Drink Water

Make water your number one choice of beverage. Water provides many benefits in the body such as transporting nutrients in the body, it's good for fluid balance, it helps digest food, improves kidney function by flushing out toxins, regulates body temperature, fights fatigue along with sickness, and helps prevent pain. Drinking water can increase energy expenditure and may enhance weight loss by temporarily raising the metabolism rate1 by 30% thus increasing the calories your body burns after eating. Drinking water before meals can reduce your appetite and intake of food which leads to feeling full. According to a study2, drinking 16.9 fluid ounces of water before a meal, reduced calories consumed by 13%. You may have read that the standard is to drink eight, 8 ounce cups of water. However, recommendations are different for everyone. Water recommendations are based on age, sex, physical activity, and health status. One way to determine how much water you should drink is to take your weight in pounds and divide by 2. The answer is the amount in ounces that you drink per day as a general guideline .

2. Eat More Fiber

Most of us don't eat nearly enough fiber in our diets. There are two main kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is broken down into a gel-like substance in the colon. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is left intact as food slowly moves through the gastrointestinal tract. One benefit of fiber is that it can keep you feeling full longer. However, it has many other benefits to health such as lowering your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A good source of fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. The feeling of being satiated is powerful when eating fibrous foods. Fiber enhances and prolongs satiety according to a study “Dietary Fiber & Regulation3” by Burton-Freeman B. The satiety-boosting effects of fiber may produce benefits when it comes to weight control. Another study4states that increasing fiber intake by 14 grams per day is linked to a calorie intake reduction of 10% and 4.2 pounds of weight loss over a four-month period. This can occur even without making any other diet or lifestyle changes. In addition, a 20-month study5 shows that increasing total fiber intake reduces risk of weight and fat gain in women. Each gram of dietary fiber consumed was associated with 0.5 pounds less body weight and 0.25% less body fat.

3. Monitor Calorie Consumption

Paying attention to how many calories you are eating versus how much physical activity you are doing per day is important. In order to lose weight you must eat fewer calories than you burn. Keeping track of your calorie intake can increase your awareness of what you’re putting on your plate. This will give you the knowledge you need to make healthier choices. In one study6 calorie counting was associated with greater weight loss. Interestingly, the review found that weight loss programs that incorporated calorie counting led to 7.3 pounds more weight loss than those that didn’t count calories. Research7 also suggests that keeping a food journal and self-monitoring food intake can help with weight loss and help keep it off longer.

4. Mindful Eating

Mindfulness is a practice that involves being aware of your thoughts and feelings while focusing on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help increase weight loss. For example, eating slowly while focusing on taste, smell, and texture of the food will allow you to enjoy your food more. Pausing before having a second helping can be beneficial. For example, it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. Once your brain gets this message, you will stop feeling hungry. One study8 demonstrated that eating slowly led to greater increases in satiety hormones and feelings of fullness than eating at a faster pace. In addition, another study9 showed that eating slowly resulted in greater feelings of fullness with decreased calorie intake compared to eating more quickly. Try minimizing distractions while eating, chewing your food more thoroughly and drinking water with your meals can help. Pick one place to sit down and eat at home. Focus on eating your food as eating while doing other things may lead to over consumption. Also, switching from a large plate to a smaller one may help with reduced portions.

5. Cook your Meals

People who cook more often, rather than eating fast food, have an overall healthier and balanced diet. Plus, restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of sodium, fat, and calories as compared to home cooked meals. Making a meal yourself means knowing the portion sizes and calories eaten which can help to ensure you stay within your target calorie range. Cooking your meals provides an opportunity to plan out everything. This puts you in a position to be in control in which you can choose healthier options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Sodium is also easier to monitor when cooking at home as fast food tends to have high amounts of sodium in most products. Cooking meals at home can also decrease your chances of eating harmful chemicals such as polyfluoroalkyl substances10 commonly found in some fast food packaging.

6. Protein

Protein can help reduce appetite and decrease calorie intake. Potential beneficial outcomes associated with consumption of protein can increase thermogenesis which influences satiety and helps maintain fat-free mass. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition11, a moderately higher protein diet may stimulate an effect on muscle protein anabolism, favoring the retention of lean muscle mass while improving the metabolic profile. Another study12 found that in 19 adults an increase in protein intake by just 15% induced a sense of fullness and significantly reduced calorie intake, belly fat and body weight.

Finally, one last point is that your nutrition is important for your health, but so is regular physical activity. Find your balance between physical activity and food. Pick an activity that you like and aim for a total of 2 hours and 30 minuets per week. Moderate activities such as brisk walking is a good place to start. Try to do your activity 10 minuets at a time. You don't have to do long intervals of physical activity for it to be productive. In fact, those with joint problems can benefit from smaller intervals of exercise. Always check with your doctor if you are currently inactive before beginning a new exercise regimen. For long term results, make sure your weight management plan is right for you. Does your weight management plan include the following:

• Foods from all five food groups?

• The right number of servings from each group?

• Foods you can buy at the supermarket?

• Some of your favorite foods or foods that you will enjoy eating for the rest of your life?

• Foods that fit your lifestyle and budget?

• Regular physical activity or exercise that you enjoy?

Remember, your goal should not be about short-term weight loss but long term results that become part of your habitual lifestyle!

Tanya Humphrey/The Fruiting Vine © 11/13/2019