Obesity is a growing epidemic, and many people keep turning to diets to lose weight. Although a diet might seem like a good solution, time and time again research shows dieting doesn’t work. In fact, as many as 80 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost one year later, and 41 percent actually gain even more weight than they lost.
Diets might work initially – cutting back your calorie intake to 1,500 calories a day or restricting the foods you eat is a surefire way to drop the pounds – but eventually, biology gets the best of us.
Dieting wreaks havoc on your hormones and impulses. People are wired to survive, so even if you aren’t really starving, when you diet your body thinks otherwise. Hormones change, your metabolism slows, and you start getting irresistible cravings. Even worse, hormones altered by diets may take a year to go back to their normal levels.
The widespread idea that you just need enough willpower is only a small part of the picture. Dieting sets most people up for failure.
But How Can You Lose Weight Without Dieting?
There are actually a number of ways to lose weight successfully that don’t involve restrictive eating, calorie counting, or any kind of dieting at all. These 10 tips to lose weight without dieting will give you the keys you need for sustained weight-loss and improve your overall health.
1. Make One Small Change and Stick to It for a Month
There are many ways to start losing weight, but it might be better to pick just one to start with. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it takes about 66 days to form a new habit. If you make too many changes at once, it can be overwhelming.
Instead, focus on just one or two small things each month. This way, you will slowly build healthy habits. After a few months of going for a walk every day or drinking more water, it will feel natural. Once it’s ingrained, you’ll be able to sustain those changes for the long hall.
2. Drink More Water
Your body depends on water for all of its functions, which should be incentive enough to get your daily dose of H2O. However, water also plays an important role in weight management.
A 2016 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found an association between obesity, high BMIs and “inadequate hydration.” Although this just proves an association, another study recently showed that drinking a 16-ounce glass of water 30 minutes before a meal can increase weight loss.
3. Eat Slowly and With Mindfulness
How many times have you sat down to eat in the front of your TV or while you were scrolling through your smartphone?
Although this might seem like the perfect way to relax after a long day, sitting down and truly focusing on your food (without the distractions) can prevent mindless snacking and help with weight loss.
According to Harvard Health Publications, it takes around 20 minutes for your digestive system to tell your brain you’re actually full. This makes it very easy to overeat, especially if you eat quickly.
Chewing more slowly and focusing on the flavors and texture of your food will not only give your brain time to catch up with your gut, it will also reconnect you with your food.
4. Serve Smaller Portions
Unsurprisingly, portion sizes have increased dramatically over the last 50 years. Just take hamburgers and soft drinks as an example – they increased 23 and 52 percent, respectively, between 1977 and 1996.
Even though you might be full, the CDC warns that people tend to eat more when they’re given more food, usually without even noticing.
5. Cook Your Own Meals
When you eat out or buy packaged dinners, the serving size is predetermined and most meals are high in calories, sodium, unpronounceable ingredients, preservatives, and additives – a recipe for disaster.
Cooking at home gives you more control over what you eat and allows you to choose whole ingredients over processed foods. A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health backs up what common sense tells you. People who cook their own meals tend to eat fewer calories, fat, and sugar.
6. Choose Smaller Plates and Bowls
Choosing smaller portions can certainly help you eat healthier, smaller amounts of foods, but so can simply using smaller plates and bowls. According to Cornell University, what you eat off of influences your psychology – their study found that people who ate cereal out of larger bowls ate 16 percent more.
Bigger bowls and plates make food look smaller, so you tend to eat more. On the other hand, smaller bowls and plates make it seem like there’s more food, so you usually eat less.
7. Snack On Whole, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Throughout The Day
There’s a reason the CDC recommends eating at least 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day. Not only do they have important vitamins and minerals, they also help with weight management in a variety of ways:
- They’re low in calories.
- They’re packed with fiber, which in itself can help you feel more full and lose weight.
- Many fruits have a high water content, which can keep you hydrated.
- Deep-colored fruit like blueberries and strawberries contain flavonoids, which also may aid in weight loss by reducing fat absorption and burning extra calories.
If you snack on fruits and veggies, you might feel fuller throughout the day, eat less later, and lose more weight.
8. Stick to Your Sleep Schedule
Sleep is everything. It regulates many of your hormones and helps you recharge for the next day. When you don’t get enough, it affects many areas of your life, including your weight. Studies show people who sleep less than about 5 or 6 hours a night or more than 9 tend to gain more weight.
9. Understand Emotional Eating Triggers
The purpose of eating is to give you energy. However, many people turn to food when their emotions get the best of them. According to the American Psychological Association, in the last month, 38 percent of adults said they overate or chose unhealthy foods because they were stressed.
Whatever the emotion, try to understand why you want food.
If your hunger or cravings stem from emotions, it might be time to get to the bottom of them. Find other, healthier ways of dealing with your emotions so you eat only when you really need to.
10. Join a Support Group
Making any kind of change is difficult, but having support can help. For some, having close friends and family is enough, but sometimes talking to people who’ve had similar experiences, concerns, and emotions about food can help. Becoming part of a community can also help you stay focused on your goals and keep you accountable.
Losing weight healthily and without resorting to destructive dieting is possible. The key is to go slowly, making real, sustainable changes that can last a lifetime. If you love yourself and your body, don’t starve it or cut out foods you love. Instead, treat yourself well by setting long term weight loss goals that make healthy living a habit instead of going for the quick, but short-lived fixes of dieting.