Changing habits, especially ones you've had for many years, isn't easy. But breaking these five unhealthy habits can make a big difference in your weight. To jump-start your success on the scale, try eliminating them for two solid weeks.
No TV while eating — and only as much as you exercise.
Studies show that watching TV — or any other "screen time," such as computer use — is a driver of weight gain. You aren't moving, and there's a good chance you're also sipping or nibbling on something. So spend only as much leisure time watching TV — or in front of any screen — as you spend exercising. That way, you're breaking the bad habit of mindless eating and adding the good habit of being more active.
No sugar — except what's naturally found in fruit.
If you want something sweet, eat fruit. Otherwise, stay away from sugar and sweetened foods, including table sugar, brown sugar, honey, jam and jelly, candy, desserts and soda. Alcohol also counts as a sweet. Keep in mind that many artificially sweetened foods like candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream and yogurt still add calories to your diet but are low in nutrients. Relying on fruit to satisfy your cravings is a healthier habit.
No snacks except fruits and vegetables.
Common snacks typically have a lot of calories and little nutritional value. If you're hungry between meals, eat fruits and vegetables and nothing else. Snacking on healthy fruits and vegetables a couple of times a day can help you manage your weight. Stock your home with a variety of ready-to-eat produce.
Moderate meat and low-fat dairy.
Limit total daily consumption of meat, poultry and fish to 3 ounces — the size of a deck of cards. If you consume dairy products, use only skim milk and low-fat varieties, and consume them in moderation. Full-fat dairy products contain saturated fat that can raise your cholesterol. Even lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry have some saturated fat and cholesterol and can be high in calories.
No eating at restaurants — unless the meal fits your healthy-eating plan.
Eating out is associated with weight gain. The tantalizing sights and smells of a restaurant, deli counter, bakery display, food court or concession stand entice you with high-calorie menu items and large portions. If you must eat out, make sure you order foods and beverages that fit the habits in your weight-loss plan.
Changing habits is challenging, but with confidence and the right strategies, you can succeed. And remember: Your immediate goal is to stick to these changes for only two weeks. Then you can figure out which habits you may want to continue on your path toward better health.
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