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Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy. It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of disease. Yet despite all these benefits, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be difficult.
Here are the ways to stick to a healthy diet.
Eating a nutritious diet has many benefits, including potential weight loss. However, it’s important to set realistic expectations. For example, if you pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly, your plan to achieve better health may backfire. Researchers found that obese people who expected to lose a lot of weight were more likely to drop out of a weight loss program within 6–12 months (1).On the other hand, setting a more realistic and achievable goal can keep you from getting discouraged and may even lead to greater weight loss.
Remembering why you’re making healthy choices can help you stay on course. It can be helpful to make a list of the specific reasons why you want to get healthier. Keep this list handy, and refer to it when you feel you need a reminder.
It’s really tough to eat healthy if you’re always surrounded by junk foods. If other family members want to keep these foods around, at least keep them hidden, rather than on counter tops. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies here. Having food on display in various areas of the house has been linked to obesity and an increased consumption of unhealthy foods (2, 3).
A major roadblock to achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle is “black and white” thinking. One common scenario is that you have a few unhealthy appetizers at a party and decide that your diet is ruined for the day, and proceed to overindulge in unhealthy foods. Instead of considering the day “ruined,” try putting the past behind you and choosing healthy, unprocessed foods that contain protein for the remainder of the party. This will help you feel full and satisfied, rather than stuffed and frustrated. A few off-plan choices make very little difference in the long run, as long as you balance them with healthy foods.
Trying to maintain a healthy diet while eating out can be very challenging. Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier. It’s best to have a strategy in place before you get to the restaurant, rather than being overwhelmed once you get there.
If your first meal is well balanced and contains adequate protein, you’re more likely to maintain stable blood sugar levels and not overeat for the rest of the day (14, 15). In one study, overweight women who consumed at least 30 grams of protein at breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at lunch than women who ate a lower-protein breakfast (15).
There is no perfect way of eating that works for everyone. It’s important that you find a way of eating and exercising that you enjoy, find sustainable and can stick to for the rest of your life. The best diet for YOU is the one you can stick to in the long run.
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