Here's five to get you started:
- Start with Breakfast
Surprised? Contrary to what you might think, skipping breakfast does not seem to be a good strategy for managing your weight. When the eating habits of over 3,000 people who have maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for one year were analyzed, 90 percent reported that they eat breakfast almost every day – and cereal was a popular choice. Other researchers also found that breakfast skippers tend to have a higher weight for their height than breakfast eaters. So start your day with a bowl of Cheerios® cereal, skim milk and fruit – it’s a choice you’ll feel good about!
Cho et al. The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2003;22(4):296-302.
Wyatt et al. Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity Research. 2002;10(2):78-82.
- Favor Low-cal Foods
Losing weight at a safe rate – about 1 pound per week – requires trimming 500 calories from your daily calorie intake. To cut calories without feeling deprived, you’ll need to focus on low-calorie foods that fill you up. Look for foods that have a high water or fiber content – like soup, fruits and vegetables – while avoiding foods that are high in fat. Fat provides 9 calories per gram – so you get a lot of calories in a little food.
- Focus on Portion Control
Managing portion sizes is another way to make sure that calories stay in check.
- Spend Luxury Calories Wisely
Luxury calories are the little extras that you add to food to make it taste better. Cream in coffee, butter on toast, and gravy on mashed potatoes are just a few examples. These foods add flavor and richness to a healthful diet, but few important nutrients. When they are used without discretion, these little extras can add up quickly to foil your weight-loss plans.
Did you know that eating just 100 extra calories each day will result in about a 10-pound weight gain in one year? Luxury calories can easily add 100 calories in a day.
- Be Active...Every Day
Any way you look at it, physical activity will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that weight-loss programs should include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week (or 30 minutes of activity five days per week).
If this sounds like a lot, start with a smaller goal. Every bit counts – even if you start with five minutes a day, that’s great! The key is to get moving and work toward getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.