You can figure out your body type here. You can find out the ideal weight for your height and body type here. You can get a suggested calorie range right here, and you can can get an estimation of how long it will take you to lose the weight right here.
1. Start logging your intake. You could just write it down in little food diary notebook you keep for yourself, but I suggest using a site like loseit.com, myfitnesspal.com, caloriecount.com or livestrong.com [I use LoseIt] because it allows you to see your nutrient intake and gives you counts for everything, fat, carbs, protein, etc, all in one spot. Then you can see what you’re not getting enough of (or what you’re getting too much of.) Either way, write it down. This will make you accountable for what you’re eating and you can see it all, right there in front of you, which will cut out mindless eating. Everything that you’ll be putting in your body from now on will be there because you thought about it and decided to put it there. Writing down that you ate five bowls of Capn’ Crunch and a three-foot-tall chocolate bunny isn’t fun for anyone, so you’ll be less likely to do it.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables. Seems obvious. But really, they’re an integral part of a healthy diet. Our bodies have been eating, extracting nutrients from, and excreting fruits and vegetables for centuries, yours will know exactly what to do with it. If you don’t like fruits and vegetables, you haven’t tried enough. Go to the grocery store and throw in everything that looks like it could be good, whether or not you’ve tried it. Try dried fruits or vegetables. I hate tomatoes, but I discovered that it’s really the texture I hate. I’ll eat dried tomatoes all day long. Before I decided that I was going to love fruits and vegetables, I didn’t know I liked grapefruits, sugar snap peas, baby spinach, green peppers or pomegranates, because I honestly had never tried them. (Don’t worry, I tried a lot of stuff I didn’t like too
like mushrooms, but that’ll happen. You need to find what works for you.)
3. Pay attention to food labels. Are the calories going to provide you with the nutrients you need? Low-cal is great, but if there isn’t a whole lot of other nutrients in it, it’s not going to keep you full or nourish your body in any way. Pick foods high in protein and fiber, and low in added sugar or fat, especially saturated and trans-fat.
4. YOU decide what is healthy, not the company that created it. If you’re really trying to do the above, you’ll start to realize that a lot of food that you probably thought was healthy really isn’t. I used to eat Nutri-Grain bars all the time (Nutrition? Grains? I should be all set, right?) But when I started really reading labels, only 1 gram of protein, zero fiber. It might as well be empty calories. A Kashi Go-Lean Bar has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein for the same amount of calories, something I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t read food labels before I ate anything.
5. Eat all the time. The biggest reason people binge is because they get very hungry (you can read all about that right here). If you don’t eat until you get very hungry, when you finally get around food you’ll want everything in sight, and you’ll end up overeating. A very hungry tummy wants as many grams of fat, carbs and protein as it can get per bite to restore that energy it’s been missing all day, so you’ll crave junk and fast food, naturally. If you get hungry, have a little snack, have an apple, or a banana, or some carrots.
6. Never get “full.” Of course eat until you’re not hungry anymore, but don’t get so full you can’t move. This stretches your stomach so you’ll have more room for food next time (your body is constantly adapting to serve you best, so naturally, it would stretch.) It also confuses your brain, because if you’re not hungry anymore but you’re still eating, you’ll get a distorted sense of what “full” is.
7. Pay attention to your body. If you’re hungry, it’s because your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs. Give it some. If you’re not, there’s no reason to force feed yourself, your body is all set.
8. Don’t clean your plate. This is a big thing now, most of us as kids were told to “clean our plates”
There are starving kids in Africa. I’m not pro-wasting food, but I’m not pro-overeating either. Try this: eat five bites, then put your fork down and drink some water. Wait a minute, talk to your family if you’re eating with them. Then, if you’re still hungry, have five more. Fork down. Sip. Talk. Think about if you’re hungry. If you’re not, stop eating.
9. Don’t ever drink anything but water. Really, there’s no point to it. (Tea and coffee are fine.) Fruit juice has a crazy amount of sugar, so don’t drink that either, and definitely don’t drink pop. The jury is still out on diet soda, I suppose, but I wouldn’t drink it unless soda is already an integral part of your diet and you can’t see it go.
10. Measure your food. Of course you’re counting calories like a madwoman right now, but your bowl of cereal, if just poured haphazardly, is likely at least 50% bigger than the “serving size” listed on the box. Your peanut butter toast probably isn’t just a tablespoon, like you’re assuming. To very accurately measure your calorie intake, you absolutely have to measure everything out.
11. Pay attention to absolutely everything. The few teaspoons of brown sugar you add to your oatmeal. The glob of butter you eat with your peas. Cream in your coffee. Milk in your cereal. If you’re used to adding a lot of extras to your food (like me) this can really add up, skew your intake, and lead to frustration that you’re not seeing results as quickly as you should be, even on a heavily restricted diet. This could have one of two outcomes, neither of which are ideal: You give up on losing weight and go back to your old eating habits, or you cut your intake by even more and get caught in the ED trap. Know what is going in your body.
12. Drink a glass of water before you eat a meal. It will fill up your stomach so you’re likely to eat less. Also, thirst is often mistaken as hunger, so if you think you’re hungry, you might just be dehydrated.
13. Find better versions of the food you love. Try different things all the time, if you think it might be good, it just might be. There is often a healthier replacement option for the food that you’re eating now that you can’t bear giving up. I love peanut butter, but even the reduced fat version was still super high calorie. I kept looking and now I have a version that has 85% less fat and 40% less calories than regular peanut butter, and it’s actually good. The point is, try everything.
14. Remember that your body is not a calculator, or a machine, and it will not run happily on 753 calories just because you told it to. It will not stop craving cookies just because you decided you weren’t going to eat them. Low calorie diets are very hard. It’s okay to eat something unhealthy sometimes, so do not cut your calories to nothing if you eat something unhealthy. The heart wants what the heart wants, same for the mouth. If you want to eat a cookie, eat one, but give yourself the same amount of nutrients and calories as you would any other day, even if this means you eat a few extra calories that day.
15. Relax. Eating something unhealthy once in a while will not cause you to gain back all the weight you’ve lost, so there’s no reason to feel bad about it.
16. Have an exit strategy. You don’t need to count calories forever. I’d suggest staying accountable for your eating by writing it down if you’d like to, but you really only need to measure things out and count for a month max. It’s just to get a good idea of nutrition, what’s healthy and what’s not, portion sizes, etc. It’s not a necessary everyday thing that you need to continue. After that, start making steps toward making healthy choices on your own, but don’t make it your life. Your body is just a part of you, it’s not everything.
-Before and After Workout Snack Ideas
-Making Conscious Health Choices: Who Decides?
-Why Starving Seems to Work
-“The Binge” and Why You Should Eat When You’re Hungry
-What is Intuitive Eating?
-How to Determine Your Ideal Weight
-How to Overcome A Plateau
-Why You Aren’t Losing Weight
-How to Burn Fat Fastest