When you have a weight loss goal, your eating habits are the number #1 determiner of your success. Anyone can use willpower and motivation to make healthy choices for a short period of time. The problem comes when the willpower and motivation start to fade…
Reaching your goal weight can be a slow process. If you don’t have proper eating habits in place, when you don’t see results quickly it can feel defeating.
That is enough to make anyone want to quit — Why pass on the pizza if you aren’t seeing the pay-off on the scale?
That’s where your habits come into play. When you have healthy eating habits as a part of your normal, daily lifestyle you don’t need to feel motivated, use willpower, or see immediate results to keep you going.
11 Weight Loss Eating Habits That Actually Work
Just like waking up and going to work is part of your normal, daily routine — something you do now, even when it’s not fun, to get the future result of a paycheck — so it can also be with eating healthy, drinking water, and not overeating to get the future result of reaching your goal weight.
Today I’m sharing 11 weight loss eating habits you can start implementing now that will help you reach your goal weight in a sustainable (and even enjoyable!) way.
Ready? Let’s dive in…
Habit 1: Write a food plan for each day
One of the most helpful eating habits you will ever create is planning your food in advance.
Whether you plan an entire week out or just one day at a time doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you stop making decisions in the moment about what to eat.
When we make plans in advance, we always choose things that will get us to the ultimate goal. However, when forced to make decisions in the moment, the instinctual part of the brain wants to take over and convince us to prioritize short-term pleasure over long-term reward.
By making your choices about what to eat in advance, you eliminate the need to make little decisions all throughout the day.
You’ll no longer rely on your limited willpower to help you make good choices. You already have the good choices made. Then, all you have to do is follow-through with them.
Habit 2: Journal about your progress
Once you have your food plan, this next step is crucial…Get into the habit of reviewing daily the challenges you face and progress you make towards your weight loss goals by journaling.
I recommend journaling every morning about how you did with following your food plan from yesterday.
Tracking your eating habits in this way will keep you from stalling out or getting into a rut. You will be acutely aware of what you need to improve on each day. Plus, you’ll get an opportunity to celebrate all your little wins along the way!
When doing your daily review, journal about your answers to the following questions:
- Did I follow through on my food plan? Why or why not?
- What’s one lesson I can learn from the day that will help me improve?
- What are 3 things that I did well during the day?
Habit 3: Drink water before coffee in the morning
Research has proven time and time again that increased water intake leads to increased weight loss.
Without proper hydration, you’ll feel fatigued and have increased cravings through the day. In fact, just a 1% decrease in your bodies base line hydration levels can impair your cognitive function!
In women, even just these slight levels of dehydration have been reported to impact aspects of mood (like vigor, alertness, fatigue, calmness, confusion, and happiness).
For most people, the time when they’re the MOST dehydrated is first thing in the morning. When you first wake up, you’ve likely gone somewhere between 7-9 hours without any water…Imagine how thirsty you’d be if you did that while awake!
The trouble is, many of us jump straight to our favorite caffeine source to help us feel more alert instead of starting off with the essentials: WATER.
Make it a goal to drink a large glass or bottle (I recommend 32oz, but even 16oz will do) of water before you drink anything else in the mornings. Starting each day off fully hydrated will help you make better food choices and feel more calm, centered, and positive throughout the day.
Habit 4: Plan your treats in advance
One of the most common weight loss mistakes I see is when women try to lose weight as fast as possible by 100% cutting out all “less healthy” foods.
I get why this approach is so tempting…I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt! What I learned through my own trial and error is that any time you tell yourself, “I’ll figure out how to maintain the results once I get there”, you’re in serious danger of re-gaining any weight you lost very quickly.
Instead, my advice is to learn how to include the “treat foods” you enjoy as you go. That way, when you do reach your goal weight, you’ll already know how to indulge in a treat every now and then without going totally off the rails and re-gaining your weight.
You need to focus on losing it in a way that you’ll also want to live the rest of your life. Crazy strict diets usually aren’t doable for most people in the long-run.
Habit 5: Question why you’re hungry
Most of us eat out of habit. It’s our normal meal time, we’re having a craving, or someone offers it to use…and without even questioning if we’re hungry, we automatically eat.
If you can get into the habit of pausing for a moment and asking yourself WHY you’re wanting to eat, you’ll find that often, it has nothing to do with a physical need for food. Instead it’s a thought or an emotion you have that is driving your desire for food.
Waiting for true, physical hunger to come is a habit that will serve you well in weight loss and maintenance. When you start doing this, you may be surprised by how little food your body actually needs!
Eliminating all that “extra eating” is one of the quickest and easiest ways to lose weight. In order to do that, every time you have the urge to eat you need to pause for a moment and question why you’re hungry. Is it real hunger or something else?
Habit 6: Always stop eating before you’re full
Another habit to help you lose weight (without changing anything about WHAT you eat) is to simply stop eating when you’ve had enough.
It sounds like an oversimplification, but in reality, many of us are eating until we feel “full” or until our plate is empty. Those habits will keep you from discovering how much food your body truly needs for fuel.
Start paying attention to how you feel as you eat — with each bite, question whether you’ve had enough.
I know that might sound tedious, but the more you practice it while you’re eating alone, the better you’ll get at assessing your hunger/fullness levels in a distracting environments (like at restaurants or family meals).
Get into the habit of stopping when you feel like you body is satisfied, but before you feel “full”. You can do this practice no matter what you’re eating — healthy or not so healthy.
Habit 7: Stop punishing yourself for overeating
It’s inevitable that you will overeat at times. No one is perfect — not even me (shocking, I know😉).
What’s more important than how much to ate is how you decide to react to that circumstance. What will you make your overeating MEAN?
If you decide it means you are a failure, you’ll never reach your goal weight, or that you’re lazy and unmotivated, then your reaction to that thought will prove it true. You’ll either quit on your goal all together or you’ll punish yourself by restricting your food or working out to “make up for it”…Which, by the way, will only make it more likely that you overeat again later and reinforce the whole cycle.
Instead, when you overeat, remind yourself that one meal will never be enough to make or break your progress. One salad won’t make you skinny just like one piece of cake won’t make you fat.
You’re result will be an outcome of your cumulative habits over time. So don’t punish yourself for overeating. Just brush it off and get right back to your healthy habits as per usual.
Know that it means nothing about you, your worth, or your ability to reach your goal weight.
Read more: How To Overcome Perfectionism With Food
Habit 8: Turn off the computer, phone and TV
One easy way to reduce the amount of overeating that you do is to reduce distractions while eating.
Get in the habit of focusing on your food when you eat by turning off the TV, putting your phone and computer away. Don’t even listen to music or a podcast — just simply sit in silence or talk to the person (or people) you’re eating with.
When I first started practicing eating alone in silence I was SO uncomfortable! The amount of discomfort I felt about it let me know that I was onto something…I needed to get used to paying attention to my food instead of rushing through my meal while working or watching a video or show.
But eliminating distractions made it SO much easier for me to tune into my body and know when I was satisfied so I could stop eating before I felt full.
Habit 9: Eat with your non-dominant hand
This is one more tip that will help you to SLOW DOWN and pay attention while you eat. Are you noticing a trend here?? Mindful eating is one of the most under-rated keys to weight loss!
I tend to be a fast eater, so when I’m eating alone I sometimes practice eating with my left hand instead of my right.
Yes it feels awkward, but doing this forces me to eat slowly and pay more attention to what I’m doing. By doing so, it becomes much easier to stop eating mindfully and stop at the appropriate time.
It might sound silly, but for all my other speed-eaters out there, this one little hack could be a game-changer!
Habit 10: Cravings? Go for a 10 minute walk & drink water
Like I mentioned in tip # 5, you need to start questioning your hunger. However, there may be times when you do pause to question your hunger and it’s still hard to tell whether you actually need food or you’re just having a craving.
When that is the case, give yourself 10-15 minutes to decide. During that time, make sure you drink a glass of water.
Often, dehydration can be the root cause of your hunger. If your body doesn’t get enough water it can send your brain hunger signals in an attempt to extract water from the food that you eat. Plus, drinking a glass of water gives you something to do while you wait.
Another helpful thing to do while you wait is to go for a quick walk or change your environment in some way.
Whenever I feel a craving coming on, I like to get up and go do a few tasks around the house (like doing some laundry or loading the dishwasher).
Often, I find that once my mind has been distracted by something else for a couple minutes the craving passes and I forget all about it.
Habit 11: Plate your food well & enjoy it
Learning to fully enjoy the experience of sitting down to a meal is another underrated eating habit. Instead, so many of us are rushing through our meals, eating them on the go, or just standing in the kitchen eating chips right out of the bag. That is no way to enjoy a meal!
Make the experience of eating healthy, delicious food more satisfying by putting your food (or snack) on a plate or in a bowl. This is another way of practicing mindful eating.
Bonus points if you can fill your plate with lots of colorful fruits and veggies! Bright colors are nature’s signal of a high antioxidant value.
Plus, scientific research demonstrates that the color of food can “exert a sometimes dramatic impact on the expectations, and hence on the subsequent experiences, of consumers”.
Food companies use this psychological hack to sell more of their artificial, highly processed food products all the time. So why not use it for good on yourself by making your healthy diet more enjoyable?
One last note…
Habit change can be a long and difficult process.
Remember that the journey is how you become the type of person who can maintain the results for life.
If you could somehow jump straight to your goal weight, but you hadn’t gone through the process of creating these healthy eating habits, you’d re-gain the weight anyway because you wouldn’t yet be the type of person who had the ability to maintain it.
By doing the work to create these weight loss eating habits and making them part of your daily life, you will become the type of person who never struggles with food or their weight again.
Now that you know the steps to take, it’s up to you to implement them.
That is the part that I help women do in my Health Coaching program. I help them see their own patterns and limiting beliefs and stay focused on what’s most important so they can implement the changes they need to finally reach their goal weight in a sustainable way.
If this think you could use help like this, I want to encourage you to schedule your free consultation call with me now and find out how I can help you transform into the new and improved version of YOU.
Changing your eating habits isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. You’ll reap the benefits of this work for the rest of your life.
November 4, 2021