The word “diet” conjures up many images.

The word “diet” actually just means the foods we habitually consume during our lifetime.  Specific diets for health problems or restrictive diets for weight loss have become recent meanings of this word. A diet to change health is a prescription to eat certain foods that affect health and weight.  In the desire for weight loss people choose a lower calorie diet and often find immediate success.  Then, most drift back to their previous food choices, lifestyle habits and regain all the weight they’ve lost.

To lose fat, you will need to exercise to burn extra calories and build muscle.  Have you noticed how healthy Biggest Loser participants look?  They work on developing muscles along with eating a healthier diet.

To lower your weight and body fat, and then keep it off you must change your eating habits – permanently.   Lose the mindset of being on a diet to meet some goal of weight loss and begin eating for a healthy body weight.  A diet is what you eat for best health and a healthy weight.  Do you want to change your eating habits to improve your health and support a healthy weight?  Take the time to look at your habits:  what do you eat? When do you eat? Why do you choose certain foods?

Here are a few times during the day that poor-food choices can drift in. These might be just be the changes you need to make to lower your body fat and get healthier in the New Year.  Small habits can have a big impact!

  • Are You Eating Breakfast?  Breaking the fast within an hour rising can help change metabolism – it tells the body to wake up.
  • Close the Kitchen at Night.  It’s quite possible that mindless nighttime snacking is the culprit for weight gain. If you close the kitchen and go to sleep early, you’ll be ready for breakfast in the morning!
  • Stay Away from Sweetened Beverages.  Sweetened drinks can pile on the calories without helping you feel satisfied, so it’s always best to ditch the sweetened drinks and stick to beverages like water, seltzer or unsweetened iced tea.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind. If you know that a certain food (chocolate, candy or cookies perhaps) are impossible to resist. Just limiting your access to these foods by keeping them out of your pantry is a very effective strategy. Just keeping it out of the house is one effective strategy.
  • Think about Portions. If you do nothing else but reduce the portion of food on your plate by 10%-20%, you will lose weight.  Pull out the measuring cups to get a handle on your usual portion sizes and then think about shaving off even a few forkfuls.

The first step towards permanent healthy weight loss is to lose think small changes and lose the dieting mindset. Instead, think about a sustainable, healthy eating plan that you can enjoy for your entire lifetime.

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Written by Mindy Nichols, RD, CDE. Mindy is a Rise Coach and registered dietitian who lives in Seattle. In addition to Rise coaching, Mindy is in private practice in local physicians offices, and a speaker for various health organizations. Mindy enjoys helping people with diabetes, weight management and sports nutrition. Mindy loves mountaineering, back-country skiing, yoga, plant based cooking and a good campfire conversation. If you’d like to work with Mindy or another great Rise coach, sign up at www.rise.us/r/MINDYNICHOLS