No-Fad Diet Tips

Updated:Oct 18,2016
lady buying groceries

Tips - Think Smart: Find a New Start

  • Analyze your current situation, recognize obstacles (both real and in your thoughts), find positive solutions, and work toward modifying your lifestyle to make effective changes.
  • Think about something that represents inner strength to you. Use this image to boost your resolve whenever you need help in seeing your way through successful weight loss.
  • Close your eyes and picture how you want to look when you’ve reached your target weight. When you hit a hurdle, focus on this image and the feelings it evokes.
  • Be aware of your self-talk and listen critically to what it is saying. Rephrase negative self-talk with a positive message.
  • Set reasonable, realistic, and measurable short- and long-term weight-loss goals.
  • Write your goals in a weight-loss diary to make them real.
  • Reassess your progress every six weeks and make changes accordingly.
  • Anticipate situations, such as office birthday parties or dinner at a neighbor’s house, that can present bumps on the road to successful weight control. Plan how you want to react in these situations so you’ll be prepared.
  • Be persistent and practice new behaviors until they become habit.
  • Take action to cure procrastination. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from starting toward your weight-loss goals.
Healthy lifestyle eating

Tips - Eat Well: A Personal Approach to a Healthful Weight

  • Set a personal weight-loss goal and write it down. Start with a goal of losing about 10 percent of your current body weight.
  • Keep a food diary for one week. Write down everything you eat and drink.
  • Pay attention to what you are eating now and why. Identify the sources of your personal “hidden” calories, such as eating your child’s leftovers.
  • Substitute fat-free or low-fat milk for whole milk, and save about 65 calories for each 8-ounce serving.
  • Watch nutrition labels: Products labeled “low-fat” can be high in calories. For example, low-fat yogurt can be high in calories. Enjoy fat-free, no-sugar-added yogurt instead for a fraction of the calories.
  • Include high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, in your diet. They take longer to digest, so they make you feel full longer. In addition, many fruits and vegetables contain water, which provides volume but not calories.
  • Cut your favorite candy bar into bite-size pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and store the pieces in the freezer. When a sugar craving hits, unwrap and eat one piece. By the time the candy thaws in your mouth, your craving may be satisfied.
  • Identify the nonessential, high-calorie foods you buy out of habit. Stop buying them! If they’re not in your pantry, you won’t eat them.
  • Make extra amounts of your favorite low-calorie foods and freeze individual portions. It’s an easy way to control portion size and have handy options available for last-minute meals and snacks.
  • When eating out, consider having two low-calorie appetizers instead of an entrée. It will help you feel satisfied and full without splurging on calories.
Walking Family in Red

Tips - Move More: More Fit and Less Fat

  • Get moving! Research shows that just two 5-minute walks each day will get you started in the right direction.
  • Decide on a personal fitness goal and write it down. Start at 10 minutes each day, and progress to 30 to 60 minutes each day.
  • Choose an activity that fits into your lifestyle. That way, you’re more likely to stick to it.
  • Plan for inefficiency so you can fit more activity into your day. Take your clean laundry upstairs in several batches instead of one. Making one trip for each person’s room will get your heart pumping.
  • Wear a reliable pedometer for one week to establish a baseline value for the number of steps you take daily. Then try to add about 250 steps each day. Remember, each step counts toward your goal.
  • Wear your pedometer as you walk your usual path around the grocery store or through the mall. Include these measured segments of activity as part of your weekly routine.
  • Use simple checkpoints to measure your success. For example, ask yourself how much less time it took you today than last week to swim a lap or walk around the block. Determine whether you became less winded after riding a bike up the neighborhood hill this week.
  • Find a friend who will join you in your activity and keep you going when you’re tempted to skip a session.
  • Add variety to your fitness plan to help yourself stay motivated and make your activity program more fun.
  • Set aside a 30-minute block of time each day that you can devote to your activity plan without being interrupted. Make physical fitness a priority in your life.
  • Monitor your progress and reassess every six weeks.
Two women and a man walking in park

Tips - Maintaining Momentum: Keep Up the Good Work

  • Pay less attention to the numbers on the scale and more to how you feel over time.
  • Keep a written record of your progress to help you focus better on your goals and remind you of your successes.
  • Try new combinations of eating plans and activity plans to keep your choice tailored to your current needs.
  • Find a reliable source of support. Family and friends can be a tremendous help as you strive to maintain momentum.
  • Consider joining a weight-loss group with goals and approaches similar to yours.
  • Reward yourself each time you reach a target, whether it is a short- or long-term goal.
  • Use your calendar to plan your weight-loss efforts. Schedule in your mealtimes and your workouts as you would meetings and other commitments.
  • Be prepared for life’s inevitable crises. If you now reach for food in times of stress, create an alternate plan so you will be ready to handle the problem without relying on food.
  • Stick to your plan and refocus when you hit a plateau. Think of it as a momentary stall, not a total breakdown. Try to find out what may no longer be working or may have changed. Look for new ways to cut back on calories or be more active.
Little boy and his father cooking

Tips - Pass It On: Food, Fitness, and the Family

  • Introduce good eating habits early in your children’s life.
  • Pay attention to your children’s weight as he or she grows. Be sure to discuss your children’s situation with your pediatrician or other healthcare provider.
  • Let your children learn to respond to internal hunger cues rather than learned social ones. Don’t worry if your kids don’t eat as much as you think they should.
  • Encourage your children to be physically active. Remember that not all physical activity is competitive. Kids who choose not to participate in organized or team sports still can enjoy being active, and the benefits are the same.
  • Eat meals at home together. The time you spend at the table is a great way to help your children develop good eating habits and give them an opportunity to talk about the things that may trigger overeating.
  • Keep bikes, basketball hoops, and other outdoor play equipment available for your children to use and in good working order.
  • Teach your children to reach for water first to quench thirst. Fruit juices, such as orange and apple, are a source of calories that add up quickly.
  • Encourage your children to find activities that develop their own unique strengths. More time spent on hobbies and new interests means less time spent on passive entertainment such as television and video games.
  • Be a kid again and take time to play with your children—play catch, build a snowman, take a nature walk, go for a bike ride, or dance to your favorite music.
  • Get your children involved in making healthful eating choices. Letting them select recipes, shop for ingredients, and prepare food are a few ways.

This material is adapted with permission from American Heart Association No-Fad Diet: A Personal Plan for Healthy Weight Loss, Copyright © 2005 by the American Heart Association. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Available from booksellers everywhere.

This content was last reviewed on 01/10/2013.

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