Written by Melissa Page, MS, RD, LDN
Weight & Wellness Center – Tufts Medical Center
It’s that time of year again where many people are focusing on improving their health and losing a little weight, particularly weight gained over the holidays. And although it can be tempting to try one of the new flashy diets, beware that these fad diets can often lead to restrictive eating patterns and eventual rebound weight gain.
At Tufts Medical Center, we don’t suggest following a strict meal plan as a way of successfully losing weight – and keep it off. Instead, we recommend trying to incorporate some new healthy behaviors into your daily life. We’ve developed some effective and SUSTAINABLE eating and exercise behaviors that will help you stay healthy, and lose a little weight in the New Year.
- Eat a high protein breakfast: Starting the day with a filling breakfast that includes a lean protein can help to manage hunger and lead to weight loss (1,2). Eating protein at breakfast is known to reduce hunger at subsequent meals, making it less likely that you will overeat. Choose from one of these high protein breakfast options to start your day on the right foot:
- Non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt topped with 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds and ¼ cup mixed berries
- 1-2 slices of whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced banana
- High protein cereal (such as Kashi Go Lean Original) with 8 oz of low-fat milk
- Use your kitchen: Restaurant and take-out meals tend to have large portions and high amounts of salt, sugar, and fat. Cooking meals at home gives you more control over ingredients and portion sizes for a healthier meal. Need help with recipes? Try some of these comfort food makeovers!
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Increasing fruits and vegetables on your plate will provide numerous benefits. The fiber from fruits and vegetables will provide fullness and satiety to reduce hunger. Fruits and especially vegetables are low in calories, therefore a plate full of produce will be filling and reduce calorie intake.
- Experiment with different ways of preparing vegetables such as roasting, grilling, or making vegetable noodles.
- Still have leftover sweet cravings from the holidays? Try some fresh fruit for natural sweetness with added fiber. You can also dip 3-4 banana slices or strawberries in 70% dark chocolate for a satisfying chocolate dessert.
- Move more: We all know activity is important for weight management. Not only does activity burn calories and help to increase muscle mass (important for a speedy metabolism), activity releases endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain signaling and provide a feeling of euphoria. We all could use a little extra euphoria to get us through a cold and dark winter in New England!
- Self-monitoring: Whether you log your food on a smart phone or you track your hunger and fullness signals in a journal, taking time to self-monitor your eating patterns can help you to manage your weight. Food logging apps such as My Fitness Pal and LoseIt can give valuable feedback about calorie intake to help you make better decisions during meals.
- Struggling with mindless or emotional eating? Try logging your hunger and fullness before and after you eat to identify times where you could be eating for reasons other than hunger.
As with any lifestyle change, these behaviors take some time to turn into automatic habits. Be patient and persistent. Also, don’t make changes that aren’t sustainable. You’re aiming to do these behaviors long-term so be thoughtful and realistic. Happy New Year and good luck!
For more tips and information on weight loss from the doctors and dietitians at the Tufts Medical Center Weight and Wellness Center, including healthy snack ideas and a breakdown of a wellness plan, visit our Patient Resources Page.
- P. Deshmukh-Taskar, T. A. Nicklas, J. D. Radcliffe, C. E. O’Neil, and Y. Liu, “The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumed with overweight/obesity, abdominal obesity, other cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in young adults. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): 1999–2006,” Public Health Nutrition, vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 2073–2082, 2013.
- P. R. Deshmukh-Taskar, T. A. Nicklas, C. E. O’Neil, D. R. Keast, J. D. Radcliffe, and S. Cho, “The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumption with nutrient intake and weight status in children and adolescents: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2006,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 110, no. 6, pp. 869–878, 2010.
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