Amid our busy lives, turning to fad diets and diet pills may be something many of us might consider to quickly lose weight. And yet, simply making healthy food choices will do the job.
Yes, jobs, families, errands, and extracurricular activities can eat up much of our time. We may feel there isn’t enough time to squeeze in a healthy meal. But there is always time to make healthy food choices even when we find ourselves eating on the run.
“Good nutrition contributes to both a healthy weight and good health overall,” says Ken Fujioka, MD, an endocrinologist and medical director of Scripps Clinic’s Center for Weight Management. “All it takes is a little time to make healthy decisions. It’s something that even people with the busiest schedule can adopt.”
The benefits of eating healthy go beyond slimming down and having more energy to take on the demands of our busy days. Plant-based foods, for example, can help you lower the risk of heart disease and other conditions.
Below are seven simple, proven weight-management tips that are easy to remember and do:
Instead of worrying about which vegetables are best or how many servings of fruit you should eat each day, just start adding them into your diet any way you can. Not only do fruits and veggies contain fiber and important antioxidants, but when eaten raw, instead of consumed as juice, they have a lower glycemic index than most people realize.
Studies show that dark chocolate, when not loaded with sugar and saturated fat, is a heart healthy chocolate treat.
People who eat a small amount (one serving size) of dark chocolate daily consume potent antioxidants that help maintain cardiovascular health. “Remember, the darker the better. Milk chocolate and chocolate foods that are high in fat and sugar don’t contain nearly the helpful amount of antioxidants,” Dr. Fujioka says.
In the time it takes to visit a fast-food restaurant or sit in the drive-through line, you can run into your local supermarket and grab fresh, healthy, prepared meals, such as roasted chicken, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and single-serving dinner entrees.
Remember to stick to the periphery of the store as much as possible. That’s where you’ll find the fresh vegetables and fruits.
If you can’t start the day without your morning coffee, that’s okay. Coffee by itself is not unhealthy, but adding whole milk, sugar, and flavored syrups can add a couple hundred extra calories daily. Use healthier alternatives like non-fat or soy milk.
Nuts, when eaten in moderation, provide a great blend of good fat and protein. Almonds, for example, have been proven to lower cholesterol. Again, the key is portion control — eat just a single serving for the most benefit.
Soy-based foods are an alternative to anyone who wants to cut back on eating meat. The protein found in soy has been found to contribute to better health, particularly with prostate health in men. If you’re new to soy, try soy milk, edamame, miso and tofu. Avoid processed soy foods.
Your scale can be a powerful weight loss tool. It will help you stay accountable to yourself so you can stay focused on your weight goals.
“One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to get a scale. People who weigh themselves every day will lose more weight compared to somebody who doesn’t weigh themself every day,” Dr. Fujioka says.
A study presented to the American Heart Association support this claim. Experts caution not to get hung up with what the scale says today but to focus on the direction your weight is trending, so you’ll know if you have to make any adjustments, such as getting more exercise or eating better.
Also remember, the scale is not the only measure of success. Check your energy level. How are you feeling physically? Are you sleeping well? Are your clothes fitting better?
“There are many things you can do to bring your weight to a healthy level and keeping it that way,” Dr. Fujioka says. “It doesn’t matter how fast you lose the weight. It’s a matter of just doing it.”