How to Eat Healthy Without Following a Strict Diet

Does the thought of following a strict diet send chills down your spine? Do you hate counting calories? If yes, you should consider taking a different approach to achieve your weight loss goals.

You see, doing what everyone else is doing isn’t really a good idea, especially when it comes to weight loss.

The weight loss strategy that may work for others may not work for you.

Many people looking to lose weight have the notion that one has to follow an overly restrictive diet to lose weight, but that is far from the truth, as you can lose weight by making few dietary changes.

What most people don’t know is that following a strict diet, in the long run, is next to impossible, even for disciplined people.

In this article, we are going to be looking at some tips that can improve your diet and help you achieve your fitness goals.

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Add fiber-rich foods to your diet

Fiber is an essential nutrient that can improve your health and help you lose a few pounds.  

Studies have shown that eating fiber-rich foods like beans, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits can encourage rapid weight loss and prevent weight gain (1) (2).

Besides helping you lose weight, eating fiber-rich foods may reduce your appetite and prevent you from overeating.

You can increase your fiber intake by eating a small serving of salad after your mealor eating oats in the morning. Feel free to snack on fiber-rich seeds and nuts between meals.

Say no to sugary drinks

Truth be told, sugary drinks taste great and are somewhat refreshing.

But taking them regularly may sabotage your weight loss efforts and even make you gain weight.

Studies have shown that people who consume sugary drinks regularly have a higher chance of gaining weight. Even more, they are more likely to develop severe health conditions like heart disease and diabetes (3) (4).

Another problem with sugary drinks is that they have very little or no nutritional value. So drinking a ton of them isn’t going to benefit your body in any way.

Before drinking any beverage, juice, or soda, check its label to see if it contains additional sugar. And if it does, you should find a healthier alternative.

Eat a lot of protein

Protein is an important nutrient that can help us build muscles and lose weight.

One study shows that eating high protein foods can increase fullness and prevent one from overeating (5). It does this by reducing the hormones that promote hunger and increasing the hormones that encourage fullness (6).

Research suggests that increasing protein intake 10 to 30 percent can help one eat 441 fewer calories and lose 11 pounds over 3 months (7).

The best time to eat high protein foods is in the morning. When you eat foods high in protein in the morning, you will be less likely to crave unhealthy foods or overeat during your day.

So, if you have been eating a grain-based diet in the morning, you should switch to a high protein breakfast as soon as you can.

Below are some high protein foods you should consider adding to your diet.

  • Almonds
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Fish

Drink more water

How much water do you drink daily?

If you are like most people, you only drink water when you are thirsty or after eating.

Well, it may surprise you to know that water can do more than just wash food down and hydrate us.

One study in adults found that drinking 17 ounces of water before meals can make one eat less. The participants of the study who drank water before meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t over 3 months (8).

Water is an excellent replacement for sugary drinks and beverages like soda and juice.

Even if water isn’t as tasty as sugary beverages, you need to keep in mind that water offers a lot more benefits than them (9).  

Use smaller plates

Do you know that the size of plates in your home can determine how much you eat?

People with large plates are more likely to eat more than those with small plates.

A small plate will make a small serving look bigger. On the other hand, a large plate will make a serving look smaller (10) (11). This, in turn, will make people add more food.

So if you have large plates in your home, you should consider replacing them with smaller ones.

Get rid of the unhealthy foods and snacks in your home

Storing unhealthy snacks in your home is by no means a good idea, regardless of how disciplined you are.

One study shows that people who store unhealthy foods in their homes are likely to succumb to their cravings when they are hungry (12).

Another study found that homes of inhabitants where high-calorie foods and snacks are in visible places have a higher chance of becoming obese, especially when compared to residents who keep a bowl of fruits in visible areas of their home (13).

If you live on your own, you should make out time to inspect every area of your home and trash or donate any junk food you find.

On the other hand, if you have a roommate, you should make a rule to store unhealthy foods in cupboards or an area where they won’t be seen easily.

Serve smaller portions

Regardless of how hungry you are, you should discipline yourself to serve a small portion of food. If you finish it and are still hungry, you can go for a second plate.

Several studies have shown that serving large portions make people want to overeat (14) (15).

Other studies have found that people who consume large portions of food have a higher chance of becoming obese or overweight (16) (17).  

One new study found that increasing the size of a dinner appetizer can make one eat 30% more calories (18).

The bottom line here is that large servings can make one more likely to eat more.

Eat more vegetables

Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and a few other nutrients our body needs to carry out its daily functions.

Besides improving your health, increasing your vegetable intake can help you lose weight and consume fewer calories.

As can be seen in this study, eating a small serving of salad before a meal can make you eat less and feel fuller.

Numerous studies have shown that eating veggies regularly can help one maintain a healthy weight and reduce the odds of one developing serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease (19) (20).

If you don’t like common vegetables like broccoli, you should consider doing a little digging to find the ones that you will love.

Snack smarter

Preparation is one of the keys to weight loss success.

If you know you’re likely going to crave unhealthy foods later in the day, you should prepare healthy snacks you can eat when you are starting to feel hungry.

If you can, store a small portion of healthy snacks at your workplace and car. This way, you will have no excuse to eat out of your diet.

Eat without distractions

Do you know that paying attention to your food can help you eat less?

People who eat while playing video games, operating their phones, or watching TV have a higher chance of consuming more food than those who focus on their meals.

After a careful review of 24 studies, scientists found out that people who were distracted while eating consumed 10% more calories (21).

One new study found that people who are absent-minded or distracted during meals are likely to consume 25% more calories than those who wereobservant (22).

So if you have a habit of watching TV or operating your phone when eating, you should discipline yourself and turn them off.

Don’t deprive yourself

Telling yourself that you aren’t going to eat your favorite snacks may set you up for failure.

Depriving yourself of a particular food is only going to make you want it more.  

For example, if you make a strict rule that you will not eat cake; your cravings for cake will automatically increase.

Instead of depriving yourself of a particular unhealthy food, tell yourself that you are going to reduce the number of times you consume it. This way, you won’t feel like you are missing out.

Keep in mind that having a small portion of your favorite dessert every now and then isn’t going to sabotage your weight loss efforts.

The bottom line on eating healthy without following a strict diet

To lose those extra pounds, you have to make a few dietary changes. These changes don’t have to be extreme for you to get the results you want.

As mentioned above, making simple changes like eating more protein and fiber or using smaller plates can make a huge difference.

Regardless of the nature of your fitness goals, you need to keep in mind that following a fad diet or extreme workout program will only take you as far.

In the end, you will end up right where you started, so it is best to start with simple changes.

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