There is plenty of weight loss advice out there—you get it from friends, family, neighbors, TV, and the magazines in the checkout line as you’re buying a case of non-diet soda and a bag of chips. How do you know what to listen to? Which piece of weight loss advice takes precedence when they conflict?
Here is a list of the best advice I have found for achieving long-term weight loss success. It may not work for everyone, but these tips are unlikely to conflict and should save time or money, if not both.
Get Rid of the Junk Food
Simply getting forbidden foods out of the house can help you stick to a healthy diet. For me, this means all of my pasta and noodles must be whole grain rather than the more common white semolina flour. Instead of satisfying my starch craving with two bowls of processed spaghetti, I am now forced to eat a bowl of the healthier, more filling whole grain pasta.
Also remove any foods that are loaded with sugar or salt. If you absolutely can not live without cookies, check your supermarket for sugar-free options. If you must have chips, check out the baked options manufacturers are offering. You'll find that the most common flavors, such as sour cream and onion, are also available baked. And there is also pretzels if you have a salt loving palate. But keep in mind, that while these options are better than their high sugar, fried, and salt-loaded cousins, they should still be consumed in small quantities. Vegetables and fruits are still the best snack food options for those who have made dieting a part of their weight loss program.
Grow Your Own Health Food
Many vegetables taste much better if you grow them yourself, and quite a few of these will grow very happily in containers such as pots and planter boxes. A single plant or a whole packet of seeds can often be purchased for the cost of a single pound of that vegetable or less.
Four feet of window sill can grow enough greens to provide salad for a family of four year round, vine plants like tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumber do well on sunny porches and balconies, and many root vegetables can be stored for months in a cool, dry, dark place. If you do your gardening outdoors, you will also burn calories weeding, cultivating, and otherwise maintaining your garden.
Write it Down
Keeping a record of what you eat, when you eat it, and how active you are that day is one of the best strategies out there for reducing calorie intake and increasing calories burned. By simply forcing you to be honest with yourself, keeping a food and exercise journal makes it harder to cheat and easier to spot opportunities for improvement in your daily habits.
These benefits can be increased by using a system, such as some available online, which can help you calculate the calorie content of each individual food and/or the number of calories burned by performing everyday activities. Would you dust more often if you knew how many calories you were burning? How about walking the dog or washing dishes?
Skip the Salt, Skip the Sugar
Sugars are highly processed carbohydrates with few nutritional advantages beyond the raw calories they provide. Excessive salt can cause weight due to water retention and increase blood pressure which, for some, interferes with exercise. Instead, use herbs, vinegar, lemon juice, and high-hdl oils to flavor your food. Those who rarely or never eat seafood will want to use some table salt or take an iodine supplement for thyroid health, but most people will do fine if salts and sugars are nearly eliminated from their diets. Remember the food pyramid from grade school? The space allotted for sugars and oils was the smallest space, showing us that we don't need an excessive amount of either in your daily diets.