Popular diets on the market and quick fixes can be both unsafe and unsustainable.
Here are some simple, achievable and effective ways to escape the diet cycle and still manage a healthy weight:
1 Track what you eat
Record everything you eat in a day, and describe how you felt when you decided to eat them. If you discover you’re eating more out of boredom or stress, or making absent-minded choices when you’re feeling distracted, plan ahead to do something else when those feelings arise.
For example, if you eat when you’re bored, call a friend for a chat. If you eat when stressed, do some breathing exercises instead.
Try not to eat while working on your computer or other electronic devices as this can lead to mindless eating.
2 Plan your meals
Jot down all the meals and snacks you plan to make and eat for your week and only shop for those ingredients. This will prevent you from having extra food stocked in the house, tempting you to eat more than you need.
3 Remember the perfect plate
Ideally, the meal on your plate should be a quarter protein (such as 150g raw lean red or white meat, fish or tofu), a quarter starchy veg or carbs (such as potato, rice or pasta) and the remaining half non-starchy veg (such as carrots, broccoli or leafy greens).
4 Organise your fridge
What you see first is what you’re most likely to reach for, so store treat foods out of sight, while putting healthy options at eye level in the fridge and pantry.
Cut up raw vegies sticks to snack on, portion out handfuls of mixed nuts and keep fresh fruit and your favourite yoghurt at the ready to make choosing healthier snacks easier.
5 Get good-quality sleep
Inadequate sleep can affect appetite-controlling hormones, making you more likely to overeat. The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to stick to a schedule. Avoid drinking alcohol and exercising right before bedtime. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and calm, and find ways to unwind that don’t involve screens.
6 Stay hydrated
Sometimes we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. Always keep a bottle of water on the dining table or your work desk, and when you feel like getting up for a snack, take a swig of H2O instead. If you’re not keen on plain water, drink sparkling or flavour with sliced lemon and fresh mint.
7 Eat protein at breakfast
Research shows eating at least 75g protein a day may help with weight loss, and consuming a third of your protein at breakfast is an important way of getting this benefit. A breakfast that contains protein, such as eggs or yoghurt, can help you feel full for longer, meaning you’re more likely to delay snacking.
8 Up your fibre intake
A healthy gut is thought to help with maintaining a healthy weight. Fibre is the main food for your gut bacteria, so load your plate up with a good variety of fibre-rich foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruit and whole grains, to keep gut bacteria happy and healthy.
9 Eat mindfully
Remove distractions at mealtimes, so you can focus on how your body feels. Sit down at the table and really enjoy the look, smell and texture of every bite of your meal. Try to slow your eating down as this will help you tune into your appetite signals and realise when you are starting to feel full.
10 Exercise regularly
As well as boosting mood, exercise can also regulate hunger hormones. A brisk walk after a meal can keep you feeling satisfied for longer, and doing muscle strengthening exercises can boost your metabolism, so your body burns energy even when you’re not being active.