A healthy eating plan gives your body the nutrients it needs every day while staying within your daily calorie goal for weight loss. A healthy eating plan also will lower your risk for heart disease and other health conditions.
Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages.
Before you tear into that bag of potato chips, drink a glass of water first. People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger, so you can end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really all you needed. If plain water doesn’t cut it, try drinking flavored sparkling water or brewing a cup of fruit-infused herbal tea.
Be choosy about nighttime snacks.
Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner when you finally sit down and relax. Snacking in front of the TV is one of the easiest ways to throw your diet off course. Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream.
Enjoy your favorite foods.
Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, be a slim shopper. Buy one fresh bakery cookie instead of a box, or a small portion of candy from the bulk bins instead of a whole bag. You can still enjoy your favorite foods — the key is moderation.
Eat several mini-meals during the day.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight. But when you’re hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be a challenge. “Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight,” says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD. She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying most of them earlier in the day — dinner should be the last time you eat.
Eat protein at every meal.
Protein is the ultimate fill-me-up food — it’s more satisfying than carbs or fats and keeps you feeling full for longer. It also helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning. So be sure to incorporate healthy proteins like seafood, lean meat, egg whites, yogurt, cheese, soy, nuts, or beans into your meals and snacks.
Always eat breakfast.
It seems like an easy diet win: Skip breakfast and you’ll lose weight. Yet many studies show the opposite can be true. Not eating breakfast can make you hungry later, leading to too much nibbling and binge eating at lunch and dinner. To lose weight — and keep it off — always make time for a healthy morning meal, like high-fiber cereal, low-fat milk, and fruit.
Include fiber in your diet.
Fiber aids digestion prevents constipation and lowers cholesterol — and can help with weight loss. Most Americans get only half the fiber they need. To reap fiber’s benefits, most women should get about 25 grams daily, while men need about 38 grams — or 14 grams per 1,000 calories. Good fiber sources include oatmeal, beans, whole-grain foods, nuts, and most fruits and vegetables.
Get enough sleep.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body overproduces the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin but under-produced the hormone leptin, which tells you when you’re full. Getting enough sleep may make you feel rested and full and keep you from doing unnecessary snacking.
Understand portion sizes.
We’re so used to super-sizing when we eat out that it’s easy to carry that mind-set home. To right-size, your diet, use a kitchen scale, and measuring cups to measure your meals for a week or two. Use smaller plates and glasses to downsize your portions. Split restaurant servings in half — making two meals out of one big one. Portion out snack servings instead of eating them directly from the container.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
The best “diet” is one where you get to eat more food, not less. If you eat more fruits and vegetables, you shouldn’t feel as hungry because these nutrient-rich foods are also high in fiber and water, which can give you a feeling of fullness. Snacking can be a good thing as long as you choose smart snacks.
A healthy weight is an important element of good health. How much you eat—and what you eat—play central roles in maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight. Exercise is the other key actor.