I was overweight for several years, up until the summer between my freshman and sophmore year in college. I made a decision then to get my weight under control and to keep it there - not by dieting, but by adopting better eating habits in general. I'm in my 40's now and have been happy with my weight for the last 20 years. Here are tips that have worked for me (and my family):
1. Don't rely on willpower alone.
I don't buy ice cream, chips, or candy at the grocery store. Having those items in the house means I have to make the decision not to eat those things several times every day. By making the decision not to buy these items at the grocery store, I only have to have willpower once a week.
2. Have treats occasionally.
While I don't keep ice cream at home, my family and I go out for ice cream cones most Monday evenings. It's a family tradition that lets us spend some time together, it's something to look forward to, and I get my favorite treat. One scoop of any flavor I want. If I go out to dinner or to someone's home, I have dessert if I feel like it. If I crave something sweet, I have a tootsie pop. They're only 60 calories and I can make one last at least 5 minutes.
3. Be realistic about snacking.
I know I like to snack, so I eat smaller, healthier lunches. At 3 in the afternoon, I can have a little snack without guilt. Sometimes a few pretzels or almonds, carrot sticks, fruit, or even a cookie is just what I need.
4. Stay hydrated.
I drink all day. I have one cup of caffeinated coffee each morning, then I drink lots of decaf tea and water all day. I like Diet Coke, but I limit that to once a day as well. Drinking makes me feel full and warm drinks bring comfort. I don't drink alcohol often, but I do like the occasional glass of wine. If I have a drink, I skip dessert.
5. Take responsibility for your choices.
I don't specifically count calories, but I do read labels and try to be aware of calories and fat. I make trade-offs when I decide what to eat. If I'm really in the mood for french fries, I have some, but I don't pair them with a cheeseburger. Instead, I order the baked chicken breast for the entree. I choose pretzels over potato chips. I choose steamed veggies over rice. I never eat sweets or carbs that taste just so-so. If I'm going to ingest the calories, I want them to taste really great.
This is actually my worst area. I go for walks, play Wii Fit, and occasionally ride my bike, but I'm really not as active as I should be. I'm still working on this one...
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