When it comes to weight loss, diets are typically the first place people start. Whatever name they go by, all weight-loss diets are basically the same thing at their core – they impose structure and accountability that (hopefully) results in calorie restriction. That structure can include self-monitoring, food lists, peer-support, and more.
Diets do work for many people, but sometimes they become an exercise in frustration and yo-yoing numbers on the scale. This happens when diets are too restrictive, don’t fit our lifestyle, or fail to address the main problems. Or maybe, the time it takes to execute the diet just doesn’t fit in an already busy life.
If diets don’t seem to work for you, there’s no need to force it. Instead, we just need to find another approach.
There are many ways to achieve calorie restriction without the rigid structure of a diet. Here are four examples:
Rethink Your Drink
Beverages are a common source of extra calories. If you regularly consume sodas, juice, energy drinks, sweetened coffees, or alcohol, then changing your drink might be enough to start weight loss. A consistent reduction in these types of drinks can easily save several hundred calories per day.
Mindful eating/Tuning into Your Hunger
Many of us have lost touch with our body’s hunger and fullness cues. We eat because of stress, distraction, or simply because the food is in front of us. Mindful eating can help us focus on our body’s signals and be present with our meals. When we better understand our hunger and fullness, it can become easier to balance our calories. The UNM Center for Life has several excellent mindfulness programs.
Snacking More (or Less)
Do you go long stretches of time between meals? Are you famished and tend to overeat when mealtime comes? Then adding a snack or two might help control the hunger – and result in fewer calories eaten overall. Here are some good snack ideas.
Or maybe you experience the opposite- grazing all day? The more often we eat, the more chances we have to overeat. In this case, changing our routine to eat fewer snacks (and maybe slightly larger meals) might lower our total calories.
Upgrade Your Fiber
Fullness plays a big role in how much we eat, and fiber plays a big role in fullness. The average American only eats about 15 grams of fiber per day – well beneath the recommended amounts (25g for women; 38g for men). Choosing to eat more fiber-rich foods can help you feel fuller and eat fewer calories overall. Here are 16 ways to eat more fiber.
These are just a few non-diet options to control calories. The real point is that there are a lot of approaches when it comes to weight loss. If one way doesn’t work, don’t get frustrated – it just means it is time to try something else.
Like these tips? Subscribe to Reed’s Eat Well email listserv for weekly topics on joyful eating and healthy living.