How to stay on a diet

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Do you find it hard to stay on a diet? You're on, you're off, and you never really lose the weight. Yeah, us too. Here are some practical ways to keep you on track from Shape magazine's Trisha Calvo.

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  • Trisha Calvo

    Trisha Calvo Executive Editor, Shape Magazine Trisha Calvo has been a health and nutrition editor for more than 15 years, joining Shape in 2005 as deputy editor for health and nutrition and became the executive editor in 2006. more about this expert »

this month: World Health Day
How to stay on a diet
  • If you’re starting a new plan, don’t set a goal weight. Don’t say 'I want to lose 20 lbs.' Most people think that gives them a goal but it just sets you up for disappointment. You can’t control how fast your body will lose weight but you can control what you do to get to that weight loss.
  • Vow to make changes necessary to get to goal weight instead. Instead of saying I’ll lose 20 lbs, say I’ll walk 20 minutes, and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t eat fast. If you eat slowly, you will eat less. You don’t get a sense of satisfaction when you eat too fast. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full.
  • The most important rule is, never eat out of a bag or a carton. You won’t know how much you’re consuming. If you ‘re eating carrots, okay, but for snack foods like potato chips, take a measured portion out and put it on a plate.
  • You don't have to give up carbs, but you do have to watch portions when you're eating pasta because it does have a lot of calories. You shouldn't have more than a cup of pasta, but you can mix in chopped vegetables or beans, and in that way you double the portion without doubling the calories. And you're also getting nutrients that are hard to come by when you're dieting.
Transcript

Hi, I'm Jennifer Morris for Howdini. We've all been on a million diets. It's really hard to stay on a diet. You start it, then you stop it. Then you get on another one. We're here with Trisha Calvo, Executive Editor of Shape Magazine. And she has some sure-fire tips for us on how to stick with your weight loss plan. Hi Trisha.

 

Hi.

 

Welcome back.

 

Thanks.

 

And so what are some sure-fire ways that you can stay on your weight loss plan?

 

Well, if you're starting a new plan and you've said I want to lose weight, here is something that you shouldn't do, set a goal weight. Do not say I want to lose 20 pounds or I want to weigh 127.

 

And why is that? I feel like, most people, that's the first thing that most people do.

 

And they do. They think it gives them an objective to reach for. But all it does is set you up for disappointment because, really, you can't control how fast your body loses weight. You can control what you do to get to that weight loss. And so what you should do is vow not to lose a certain number of pounds, but vow to make the changes that will get you to your goal weight, even though you're not calling it that.

 

So, instead of saying I want to lose 20 pounds, I'm going to lose 20 pounds this month, which is not possible, but I'm going to lose 20 pounds this year, let's say, instead of saying that, say I'm going to walk for 20 minutes every day. I'm going to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables because these are all things that are going to get you to your goal weight. So do those things, and the weight loss will follow without you even having to think about it.

 

So your second tip has to do with how fast we should eat.

 

Yes. Do you eat like a crazy person? I do. I mean, it's the one habit that I have that I am really seriously trying to work on because I'm so busy, and I'm trying to move on to the next thing. And what I've really learned to do is to slow down and pay attention to my food.

 

What happens when you eat quickly, it's like you've inhaled it. And you don't even know that you've eaten. So you don't get the sense of satisfaction that comes from eating. And so that's one reason why eating quickly is bad for a weight loss plan. The other reason is that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full.

 

Oh, really?

 

Yeah, because the neural-chemical pathways don't work instantaneously. So, when you're eating like crazy, you may still think I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry. But you're not. And then you're going to feel overstuffed afterwards. And you will have consumed more food than you would have if you had just slowed down a little bit.

 

And, when you eat more slowly, you'll also give your brain time to register. And I guarantee you that you will eat less food immediately. You'll just notice a difference immediately. You'll go, oh, I'm full. And, look, there's stuff left on my plate, huh. It's really, really important.

 

Oh, OK. So can you give us one trick, one other weight loss trick for us?

 

Yes. The most important thing, my number one rule, never eat out of bag or a carton.

 

And why is that?

 

Because you don't know how much you're consuming. And this is particularly important with snack foods. You want to eat baby carrots out of the bag?

 

Go for it.

 

More power to you.

 

Celery?

 

You want to eat celery out of the bag? That's great. But you want some potato chips? You want some ice cream? Take a measured portion out and put it on a plate or in a bowl. You will then have this is your amount that you can eat. You'll know exactly how much you're eating. And you won't get caught up in that food amnesia where you're just hand to mouth, hand to mouth, hand to mouth. Remember, that's the most important thing you can do.

 

OK, so now I have one more question. How can you make your favorite foods a little bit healthier?

 

It's very easy. Do you love pasta?

 

I love pasta. It's my downfall.

 

And the pasta is fine when you're dieting. The whole low-carb craze, it's over. But pasta does have a lot of calories, and they do add up quickly. There are about 200 calories in a cup of cooked pasta.

 

What you can do with pasta, and to make it feel more satisfying-- because a cup of pasta really isn't that much. You look at in your bowl, and you're like, hm, not so much food.

 

And you feel a little disappointed.

 

You feel a little disappointed. So take the pasta, take a cup of pasta, cooked, and then mix it with chopped vegetables or beans. And then you've doubled your portions, but you haven't doubled your calories. And you feel more satisfied. You're also getting more nutrients in, which is also very important when you're controlling calories because women who are on weight loss plans tend to have a hard time getting some of the important nutrients in their diets. So the more fruits and vegetables you can add, the more beans, lean protein, the better off you're going to be from a health perspective and from a weight perspective.

 

Sounds delicious. So next time, I won't have eight cups of pasta, [? that'll be two ?].

 

Yes. Yes.

 

More great advice. Thank you, so much. Trisha Calvo, from Shape Magazine. I'm Jennifer Morris for Howdini.


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