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Good Habits to Help You Lose Weight

Good Habits to Help You Lose Weight
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 8 min read

Your pants are starting feeling a little tight around the waist, which means you have probably put on a few pounds. Weight gain is the result of consistently bad habits when it comes to eating. You did not gain weight overnight, so getting rid of that extra flab could take time as well. You should be ready for a battle, but adopting some positive habits can help you lose weight and get back to a healthy weight as quickly as possible.

Learn about nutrition as much as possible

Learn as much as you can about food and nutrition. People who get slim and stay slim generally understand what kinds of foods to eat and which ones to avoid by knowing what is in their food. Reading package labels can help you acquire this skill, but you should also read blogs, listen to your nutritionist, and learn at every opportunity that you have. You will start to become familiar with how much starch, sugar, and fat are in foods and how much of each food makes up a "€œsingle serving"€ so you are not constantly overeating.

Don't shop on an empty stomach

Never go shopping on an empty stomach. That is a recipe for disaster. You'll fill up your basket but with all the wrong things that you are craving rather than what is actually good for you. Prepare a list of healthy foods at home, and stick to it in the store. If junk food is not on your grocery list, then that kind of food won't land in your cupboard and, later, on your hips.

Eat breakfast every day

Eat breakfast every day. Your body needs fuel to get going and give you energy for the rest of the day. People who eat breakfast consume fewer calories from fat and tend to snack less during the day. This is consistently proven by research, and people who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat during lunch or dinner.

Eat regular meals

Eat regularly scheduled meals. Plan to eat your meals however it works best for you. If you get hungry between lunch and dinner, you may need to time those meals closer together. That will help you to avoid snacking in between.  If at all possible, eat meals consisting of smaller portions but schedule them more often. Eating meals timed more than three hours apart can raise the body's level of a stress hormone called cortisol, which is responsible for the body storing abdominal fat. When we eat more frequent meals, the level of cortisol drops, and the body is able to burn belly fat.

Avoid processed foods as much as possible

Eat all-natural, unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Items such as these are called low-density foods. With all the fiber they contain, they take up a lot of room in your stomach. That gives you the sensation of feeling full, but it doesn't come from a ton of calories. Foods like candy and ice cream are known as high-density foods. They don't satisfy as quickly but give your body lots of calories to absorb.

Cook at home as much as possible

Cook at home, put your meals on a plate, and sit down at a table to eat. Anything served to you in a bag through your car window isn't going to be healthy for you.

Take your time to enjoy your meals

Chew your food thoroughly, and take the time to savor it, preferably with company. Eating should be a social activity. Conversation forces you to eat more slowly. Eating in a rush without talking is likely to result in weight gain as you will probably eat too many calories.

Pick healthy snacks

If having a snack during the day is unavoidable, pick a nutritious one with complex carbohydrates and just a little protein and fat. Examples include low-fat yogurt, smoothies without sweeteners, or a piece of cooked chicken  breast or beef jerky.

Eat one plate at a time

When dinner is ready to be served, fix one plate at a time from the food prepared on the stove. If you are forced to get up each time you want more, you might actually eat less. It also gives your stomach time to tell your brain you are full, which generally takes 20 minutes.

Don't eat after dinner is over

Once dinner is over, don't eat again. That can cause you to gain weight. You can calm any later hunger with a no-calorie beverage such as unsweetened tea or coffee. It is important for you to go to bed with an empty stomach. If your body is still digesting food when you are asleep, it cannot burn any fat or perform other necessary tasks generally reserved for our periods of sleep. You will not wake well rested and hungry for a healthy breakfast.

Avoid keeping junk food at home

Another aspect of battling the temptation to overindulge on your favorite junk foods is to not keep them in the house. You can't eat half a gallon of ice cream at midnight if you don't have any in your freezer. If you crave potato chips, especially during game time on Sundays, you might want to rid your cabinets of them and stock healthy alternatives like vegetables and whole fruits instead. By keeping junk food out of sight it will also be out of mind, and you won't feel tempted all the time to eat it.

Be picky about your food choices

When you go out to a restaurant, be picky about your food choices. Avoid fried foods, and don't be afraid to make special requests, such as having your sauces put on the side. Find out exactly what you are eating before you order, and make sure that you aren't eating any extra starch, sugar or fat that you didn't anticipate. The best option is to cook at home, but there are some restaurants that serve healthier options.

Drink enough water

Drink plenty of water. Many fitness experts will tell you they drink nothing else"€”no sodas, no iced tea, no alcohol. The ideal amount is six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water each day. If you are exercising, you can drink even more. Drinking water will help you digest your meals and a lot of people simply don't drink enough of it, and as a result they may overeat due to dehydration.

Take the stairs when you can

Take the stairs. Any advice on losing weight would be amiss without tips on exercise. You don't have to run out and buy an expensive gym membership, though. If you work in an office building, and your desk is not, say, on the 20th  floor, you might want to think about climbing the stairs more often instead of using the elevator. The founder of modern karate, Gichin Funakoshi, advised taking stairs as means of exercise. You may want to plan in some extra time just to make sure you don't show up late for work since you will probably need to catch your breath a few times before you reach the top. You should also be prepared to experience muscle cramps after the first few times, especially if you have not worked your leg muscles in a while.

Permanent weight loss is not achieved in a matter of weeks. It requires a lifestyle change by eliminating old habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Focusing solely on the number of pounds you lose can lead to a yo-yo bounce back effect. The main thing is not to think that you are "€œon a diet"€ but that you are adopting healthy habits from that point on. Practice these tips, and that old pair of jeans will fit you again in no time.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.