Home > mint-lounge > business-of-life > The ‘no-diet’ weight-loss plan

If someone told you that it is possible to lose weight without dieting, would you believe them? Well, it is possible, but it requires adopting a healthy lifestyle and making choices that you will have to stick with for your entire life.

Here are some ways of staying fit without dieting. Remember, you will lose some weight initially with these tricks, but after some time these will help you maintain a steady weight rather than reduce it dramatically.

Savour your food

Reinvent yourself as a slow eater. This means you should take no less than 20 minutes to finish your meal. This is a simple habit to adopt for shedding weight without a complicated diet plan. Eating slowly triggers the body’s satiety hormones. When you eat in a hurry, your stomach doesn’t have the time to tell the brain that it is full, which typically leads to overeating.

Sleep more

According to a 2006 research, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, just an hour of extra sleep every night could translate to a 14-pound (around 6kg) weight loss over the course of a year in a person who eats 2,500 calories a day. This basically means a 6% decrease in intake of calories, since sleep replaces idle activities and snacking. Post dinner time, especially if you are watching TV or surfing the Internet, is a dangerous time for mindless snacking. Chewing sugarless gum with a strong flavour can help kill food cravings.

Include more vegetables

Eat more vegetables. Most vegetables have less calories than cereals like rice and wheat. Also, choose water-based green vegetables like bitter gourd and spinach to root vegetables like potatoes and yams, because they have lesser calories and are high in fibre content, so they fill you up.

Begin with a low-calorie soup

Soup is a great choice both as an appetizer and as a substitute to an entire meal, depending on how it is made. Choose healthy broth-based soups like minestrone, won-ton, or one made with green vegetables. If using ready-made options, use low-sodium broth to lower the salt content. Add vegetables and a lean protein of your choice, like chicken or fish, to make a soup that fills you up. If you must use a base other than broth, then substitute cream with low-fat curd.

Try eating from a quarter plate to save up to 100-200 calories a day, which translates into weight loss of about 5kg a year

Choose wholegrains

Wholegrains include brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, amaranth and whole wheat. These are healthy carbohydrates, which provide energy and keep you full for longer.

Use a skinny outfit as motivation

Choose an outfit you really want to get into, but is a little too snug for you. Keep it in the front of your closet and use that as motivation. Just make sure it’s not a outfit that’s several sizes smaller than your current size, else that will backfire.

Make junk food healthy

All junk foods, like pizza and pastas, don’t necessarily have to be off the list if you are trying to shed weight. Replacing meat toppings with vegetables can save you 100 calories per meal. Non-vegetarians can replace bacon and chorizo with lean chicken. Using a reduced-fat cheese or any hard cheese as topping also works because these are low in fat content. Thin crust and wholewheat base is a healthier choice. If cooking at home, try cauliflower mash base—a no-grain, gluten-free crust—for a pizza, which is quite delicious, nutritious and low in calories.

Say no to sugary drinks

This is an absolute no-no. If you swap 350ml of regular soda for water, you will avoid 10 teaspoons of sugar. Add citrus fruit wedges or mint leaves to plain water. It makes for a refreshing drink, especially in summer. You could also add chia seeds to chilled green tea and sip it through the day. It is a refreshing summer drink and chia seeds are a good source of fibre.

Limit alcoholic beverages

Reduce your consumption of alcohol. Have a glass of water for every glass of alcohol so as to drink less. Also avoid cocktails which have juices and sugar syrups that pile on more calories. Alcohol has seven calories per gram, which is more than carbohydrates (4 calories/g) or protein (4 calories/g). Also, choose a tall, skinny glass rather than a short, wide one. These visual cues can actually trick you into consuming 25-30% less of whatever beverage you are drinking.

Eat more home-cooked meals

This is a no-brainer. Try to have home-cooked meals at least five times a week. No matter how careful one is in ordering food when eating out, the oil content will normally exceed that of home-cooked food.

Use smaller dishes

Pick a smaller plate. Try eating from a quarter plate to save up to 100-200 calories a day. This translates into weight loss of about 5kg a year. Serve yourself as much as you need to eat in one go and then, if possible, send the serving dishes back to the kitchen. This will keep you from taking second helpings.

There is an interesting Japanese rule called “hara hachi bu". This means eat until 80% full, then stop. You can practise this rule by serving yourself 20% less food.

Vishakha Shivdasani is a Mumbai-based medical doctor with a fellowship in nutrition. She specializes in controlling diabetes, cholesterol and obesity.

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