Taking a Bite Out of Bad Nutrition Habits

by Amy Hendel, P.A. Health Writer

It’s that time of year when pretty much everyone decides to give a diet another go at it to finally shed the excess weight that’s been stubbornly refusing to get lost! Here are nine tips to finally help you to get the weight off and keep it off.

Woman eating healthy meal.

Here we go again: let’s do it right

You’ve likely tried many diets in the past. One big mistake is to consider the effort a “temporary eating plan” that will get you to goal weight, so you can then resume old habits. Obesity is a disease, so weight loss basically puts you into remission. This time around, keep the diet in place; just allow more calories once you hit goal weight.

Man on scale at doctor's.

Set attainable goals

It’s tempting to think you can reclaim your college weight or look like a fit celeb or your trainer. Applause if it motivates you to shed dangerous excess weight, but let’s get real and define a goal weight you can sustain without enormous suffering. Suffering equals blowing off your diet and weight regain. Have an expert weigh in on your personal weight goals.

Woman using diet app.

Use a journal, trackers, whatever keeps you honest

Another big mistake is to mentally track calories, number of portions, foods consumed, and exercise efforts. Most dieters lie to themselves — it’s human nature. Employ a tracking method and don’t abandon it once you hit goal weight. That’s when you’re especially vulnerable to blurring food and exercise details.

Man on road to good nutrition.

Learn basic nutrition

Did you know that beans and peas are more filling than meat? Did you know that pureed fruit can substitute for oils in many baked foods recipes? Do you understand portion sizes? Before you start a new diet, learn about food groups, high fiber foods, the healthiest fats, and how many calories you need for weight loss versus weight maintenance.

Woman meeting with nutritionist.

Review a range of diets and “pick a good fit”

U.S. News & World Report released a 2017 review of commercial diets. See which diet or food plan works best for your needs, your personality, and your wallet. Your friend’s diet may not be a good fit for you. If you can afford to meet with a dietician or nutritionist, it can be invaluable, allowing you to really personalize your food plan.

Young woman getting helpful information online.

Use the latest science

Some studies have suggested that intermittent fasting may be an excellent approach to weight loss and help with blood sugar control. Another study recommends only eating calories between certain hours, so you experience an overnight fast. The Mediterranean Diet got top honors this year for supporting good health while allowing some to lose weight too.

Woman looking at grocery receipt.

Be organized and mindful

Managing an eating plan requires planning. Make weekly shopping lists and stick to them. Prepping food to save time is a great habit. Wash and cut fruit and vegetables for several days. Pack lunch the night before and make sure you’re set for breakfast too. Pre-portion snacks and make yogurt parfaits ahead of time. Eat without distractions.

Couple cooking at home.

Be willing to cook

Take the plunge even if it intimidates you. If you measure and choose ingredients, you’re in control of calories, added sugar and salt. You can choose the healthiest cooking oils, and learn substitutions for less healthy ingredients. Precook healthy meals so you have ready-to-eat food after a long workday. Use online recipes and cooking videos.

Plate of half healthy food, half unhealthy food.

Ditch being black and white

If you have a slip up and overeat during a meal or even over several days, it doesn’t mean failure. It may however signal that you need more support (from a dietician or group) or that the diet is too extreme or failing to intercept cravings. Seek help from a professional, recommit, or try a new eating plan. Consider it a blip on the road to health.

Man stretching outside in the park before running.

Add exercise and keep it going

Most experts believe that weight loss is best achieved by following a formula of 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. Exercise can help to burn those extra calories needed to lose pounds effectively and also help you to maintain goal weight. Combine aerobic exercise, weight training, and fit in some HIIT for maximal calorie burn.

Young family outside in the sunshine playing.

Make it a lasting healthy lifestyle

A healthy life style should be a sustainable way of life. Follow the diet plan going but accommodate “blips,” like treats and even “failures,” committing to ALWAYS get back on track. Never abandon exercise — it’s crucial to weight control when you have occasional calorie lapses. Don’t get complacent — keep support in place and get enough zzzs!

Amy Hendel, P.A.
Meet Our Writer
Amy Hendel, P.A.

Known as "The HealthGal", Amy Hendel P.A. is a medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, health coach and brand ambassador. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, find her on Twitter @Healthgal1103 and on Facebook @TheHealthGal. Check “Daily Health News” at healthgal.com. Her personal mantra? “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”