Most diet strategies involve long-term, intricate plans that are quickly abandoned. It’s just another failed attempt.
Because most don’t cover instant and actionable advice. They focus on overhauling too much at once - intimidating you from the start.
Yes, in theory they all have their merits. Long-term planning is a must to be successful, but you may be the type who needs small nudges to build into something bigger. You would rather dip your toe instead of cannonballing straight into the deep end.
Below are 9 tactics that are easy, instantly set into motion, and effective. The key is to try one at a time. Give yourself around two weeks before adding another habit. Over time you will find that these small tactics will pile into one big dieting strategy, no long-term stress required.
1. Eat Protein First
Your meal is in front of you, what do you go for first? Protein takes energy and time to digest, and that’s a good thing. Your body will actually burn a significant amount of calories to digest and break down protein into usable material.
Eating protein first will also fill your stomach with bulk so you won’t be as inclined to scarf down a sugary alternative or a bunch of filling starches that just add calories. So go ahead, eat fish, red meat, chicken, turkey, yogurt, or any other source you enjoy most before any carb-heavy option.
2. Stuff Yourself with Vegetables
Another first is vegetables. Packing in vegetables before any simple starch is a good practice as well. Not only is this good timing, it also allows you to stuff your face with the green stuff. Green, leafy vegetables shouldn’t really have a limit on your menu. Feel free to eat as much as you want.
This isn’t only a good thing because that’s what your mom always told you as a kid (eat your veggies!), but it also will provide more bulk in your stomach so you are even less tempted to go for that heap of buttery mashed potatoes.
3. Drink Water Before Every Meal
Drinking water prior to each meal will fill your stomach and make you less likely to binge (do you see a trend here?). When you down a full glass of water, you make less room on your gut and you get a quick feeling of satisfaction. This will, in turn, give you pause allowing you to think about what you are about to eat.
You get an opportunity to become less impulsive and become more mindful of your situation whether it’s at home, an office party, or perusing a restaurant menu. Added bonus: you develop a habit of staying hydrated throughout your day.
4. Eat Mobile Fat and Protein
The snacking options in society are sometimes too overwhelming. Vending machines, convenience stores, and office events all tempt us to do the simple, easy, and lazy thing: give in to our hunger pangs and scarf down the nearest sugary treat.
A little planning can circumvent this instantly. Always have your “emergency snack” ready for whenever you are caught with your guard down. Pack some mixed nuts, beef jerky, or other convenient and healthy fat or protein source you can count on during these tempting times.
5. Eat Slow
It takes your brain 20 or so minutes to get the message that you have food entering and filling your stomach. This is why if you are the type to inhale your food, you risk overeating and then feeling a bit miserable after your meal is over. Eating slower will give your brain enough time to receive the message and you will actually feel fuller faster.
When you eat out, this can translate into you eating only half of your meal and then taking the other half home for leftovers for the next day. Plus, eating slower will allow you to actually taste and enjoy your food more.
6. Be Mindful/Set a Reminder
Mindfulness may be a buzzword currently, but it’s been around for centuries, if not thousands of years. So many of us partake in mindless eating. We don’t even look at our food half the time. We were also brought up to “make a happy plate.”
Well, our plates have gotten a lot larger over the years (literally) and it hasn’t made our waistlines very happy. Be mindful of your present situation. Set a reminder on your smartphone to slow down, look at what you’re eating, and think about how it will impact your diet goals. Stay aware, stick to your plan, and take control.
7. Write it Down
The act of writing down what you eat on a daily basis will do wonders for helping you adhere to a diet plan. Even if you actually do nothing with your diet log but simply write down your meals, you will create awareness and actively turn on mental cues to help you adhere to your healthy eating plan.
Now, most reading this will quickly run to their smartphone and open the latest app to track their eating. That is perfectly okay, but some may subject themselves to too much distraction. Using a simple notebook will do just fine and will separate your journal from everything else further making the act more authentic and unique.
8. Shift to Goal-Oriented Eating
As stated above, mindless eating only leads to loss of control which will derail you from reaching your ultimate goal. When preparing a meal and/or eating be present, ask yourself a set of predetermined questions such as: Is this meal part of my overall plan? Are these foods helping of hurting my efforts? Could I make a better choice?
When you stop, realize what’s in front of you and what you are about to do, and shift to more of a goal-oriented state of mind you will be better equipped to handle any situation.
9. Start Now, Again
Are you the all-or-nothing type? Are you either completely and totally committed to your plan of action or nothing at all? Although this can seem to be admirable in many instances, it could hinder your dieting process and get you nowhere fast.
When (not if) you fall off the horse during your journey to a better, healthier body, the key is to get back in the saddle then and there. Don’t adopt the all-or-nothing mentality and throw it all away to start from scratch another day.
You will have bumps along the way – just pick up where you are and move forward. Even though you had a hiccup, it’s important to keep driving on. In time the bumps will be smaller and less frequent and you will gain more control of your actions.