You might not be aware of this – but when it comes to your diet – even the smallest things can really add up to make a world of difference. Most people, when they hear the word “diet” assume that it requires radical changes to their lifestyles and misery-inducing food restrictions. However, the reality is quite different, because it’s far more effective to make small changes, instead of aiming for a major lifestyle overhaul.
Stop Eating Before You Feel ‘Full’
The most basic thing you can do is to try and follow “Hara Hachi Bu” – and don’t worry – while the phrase might seem complicated at first, it is actually an old Japanese saying, which roughly translates to “stomach 80% full.”
The term refers to an ancient way of eating, practiced mainly by the residents of Okinawa for centuries at this point.
Even though it might be difficult to quantify what 80% actually is, the simpler way of putting this in practice would be this – stop eating when you’re no longer feeling hungry. It’s quite simple when you take a second to think about it.
Top Five Long-Term Diet Changes
The advice we gave you in the paragraph above is easy enough, but you’re not here for that. What you really want is something more specific – right?
So in order to help you make life-long changes to your eating habits, here are some small changes basically everyone can make to their diet:
Stop Skipping Breakfast Every Morning
Over the last couple of decades, numerous studies and research papers have shown that people are more successful at losing weight when they regularly eat breakfast. And if you’re not a regular breakfast eater, a good idea would be to prepare your meals in advance.
And if you don’t have any meal ideas or you simply don’t have enough time to go shopping, you can always try using a meal delivery service like Sun Basket that delivers fresh ingredients and recipes to your doorstep every week.
Nevertheless, you don’t even need any elaborate ideas to prepare a breakfast. In fact, here’s one our favorite morning, low-calorie meals (only around 250 calories), that takes less than five minutes to prepare:
- English muffin
- One spoon of peanut butter
- A half of a sliced banana
Start Eating More Fiber-rich Foods
A recent study from the National Institute of Heath discovered that people who eat more fiber often lose as much weight as those who follow elaborate eating plans or go on awfully-restrictive diets.
Once you introduce more fiber into your diet, you’ll naturally crave less sugary and fatty foods. The only question is how can you introduce these items into your meals? The answer is surprisingly simple.
Just start eating more raw vegetables and fruits – you should especially eat those that have edible skins, stalks and membranes such as apples, artichokes, broccoli and raspberries, just to name a few.
Introduce Non-Starchy Veggies to Your Diet
Let’s say you eat at Chipotle regularly – a tortilla-free burrito may be a nice way to kill off those additional calories, but it still isn’t perfect – you’ll still be consuming way too much carbs.
You should simply switch to a salad as your base, and ask for smaller scoops of rice and black beans on top. You’ll still feel full, satisfied and there’s enough meat there to help you maximize your muscle gains, if you’re a gym-rat.
And this isn’t limited to fast food restaurants; you can still make the same kind of tweaks at your home. For instance, use lettuce in place of a hamburger bun and instead of french-fries, bake sweet potatoes in the oven and eat them as a side-dish.
Ditch Sweet Drinks and Artificial Sweeteners
If you manage to stop drinking sodas, you’ll be amazed how your appetite will change in a matter of weeks. You’ll see that your constant cravings for sweets will practically disappear completely.
Research and personal experience have both shown that your brain actually cannot be tricked and satisfied with artificial sweeteners. So even if you think your cravings are satisfied with artificial sweeteners, your cravings for sweets are actually growing stronger.
If that’s not enough for you, just take this into consideration – these sweeteners have shown to disrupt your gut bacteria in ways that increase your risks of obesity.
Don’t Eliminate Treats – Downsize Them Instead
If you’re trying to get some long-term results, you definitely shouldn’t banish all of your favorite foods and snack completely, because doing so may lead to failure down the line.
Let’s face it – a drastically limited diet is simply not sustainable in the long run. In addition, if you eat a small treat every day, you won’t actually sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Just remember to keep all of those treats small, aim for anywhere between 100 and 200 calories, and you’ll definitely stick with it in the long haul. Here are some treat suggestions:
- Two squares of dark chocolate
- One glass of wine
- A half-cup of your favorite ice cream
Bonus Tip: Drink Water with Lemon
I’m sure that you already know that hydration is vital for your overall health and that you should drink at least two liter of water every day. But did you know that drinking one or two cups of water before every meal will help you lose weight faster?
All of that water will help you feel full (and get to those 80% we mentioned before) a lot sooner. In turn you’ll eat less and subsequently, weigh less. In addition, if you add some lemon to it, you’ll speed up your metabolism by at least 33%.
This means – you’ll burn up 100 additional calories every day.
When it’s all said and done, the most important thing is to understand that you need to make practical changes to your lifestyle in order to fully adopt them into your everyday life. If you manage to sustain these small changes, you’ll be able to stick to them, lose those extra few pounds and stay lean and healthy for the rest of your life.
Contributions to this article were made by Monica Nichols, a 32-year-old writer and fashion designer from Omaha, Nebraska. When she’s not writing for www.diet.st she enjoys ice skating and watching old movies.