10 Total Body Diet Tips for Keeping the Weight Off

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Here are ten Total Body Diet tips to help you effectively keep weight off in a realistic and healthy way. Remember, the road to weight loss and maintenance is a well-beaten path, with arrows pointing in many different directions promising success, but then dead-ending with unrealistic goals and rigid food rules.

Keep a food diary

It sounds so simple: Write down what you eat and drink every day to create awareness of your consumption patterns and encourage healthful choices. A food diary fosters a sense of accountability — to yourself.

So, what are some quick and simple ways to stick with a food diary day in and day out? Here are some Total Body Diet suggestions:

  • Keep a notebook by your bedside or desk at work to make it easy to jot down meals and snacks.

  • Create a simple food log on your computer or smartphone to simply note what you eat and drink.

  • Use the voice recorder on your smartphone to keep track of your intake and how you feel before and after eating.

  • Take advantage of the myriad food diary apps or websites and record your foods and feelings that way. You can even take photos with some apps, making it even easier!

Plan, plan, plan

Planning creates purpose. If you have a plan, you’re more likely to stick with it. Mindless eating comes in when there’s no structure. Weight gain can occur when the future is unclear, but if you’ve planned your meals and snacks for the day, there’s less chance of overeating and more security in keeping your weight stable. When left up in the air, food choices become knee-jerk reactions, in-the-moment decisions — and that typically doesn’t go very well.

Plan to not plan at least one day a week. This unplanned day will allow you flexibility and renew your focus for the rest of the week.

Cook the healthy way

Unfortunately, cooking does not top the list of priorities for the average American. If you had four extra hours in the day, would you cook more? Not so much, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2015 Food & Nutrition Survey.

The good news is, you need only 20 to 30 minutes to make a tasty and healthy meal! And you don’t have to be a trained chef to cook healthy meals.

Here are five simple ways to get cooking that don’t take a lot of time:

  • Gather a repertoire of three or four recipes that are simple to make and use them throughout the week. Grocery shop for the week with your recipes in mind.

  • Limit your recipes to five ingredients total. Feel free to swap ingredients — such as different fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, or herbs and spices — to add variety to your meals and snacks.

  • Cook with family and friends to make it more fun!

  • Play music while you cook to relax into the process.

  • Dabble and try new flavors with herbs and spices, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans. Enjoy a bounty of good food in your kitchen!

Steer clear of temptations

Foods that cause you to binge (excessively indulge to the point that it’s hard to stop) are often called triggers because they set off a period of overindulgence. Usually, these foods and drinks don’t have a lot of nutritional value, and your brain and body are craving the feeling they give you. (Think sugary beverages, cakes, cookies, candy, or alcohol, as well as salty chips, dips, and fries.)

Set a steer-clear attitude — not a restrictive one:

  • Clear your home of tempting foods or beverages.

  • Replace unhealthy foods and beverages with healthier, individually portioned substitutes.

  • Share with family and friends. Sharing creates more from less. If you’re dining out and you usually get dessert and wind up overeating, share a dessert with your spouse, friends, or family. Just think: You’ll eat less overall and get the feeling of more that comes from sharing!

Establish a supportive structure

Surrounding yourself with social support is key when you’re trying to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Think about it: Who can help you on your journey to a healthy lifestyle?

Try naming at least one person who can help you in each of the following situations:

  • When you’re tempted by food at work

  • When you want to stop at your favorite fast-food restaurant on the way home from work

  • When your neighbors invite you to a party where you know there will be a lot of food and alcohol

  • When you want to blow off your workout

  • When you’re dining out with friends and you’re tempted to overeat

Check in with yourself

How you feel about your food choices is just as important as the actual food on your plate. That’s why checking in with yourself to see how you feel is so important. At first, you may find it challenging because you’d rather eat waffles than oatmeal, but making a compromise by switching to whole-grain waffles will allow you to feel much more content with your choice.

The Total Body Diet isn’t about eliminating your favorite foods — it’s about allowing you to stretch your taste buds by making new, healthy choices. You may never even have thought of making vegetable chili with beans instead of meat or replacing a sugary, gourmet coffee drink with a cup of green tea for a soothing, stress-relieving reprieve during your workday.

Savor good foods and flavors

Eating on autopilot doesn’t allow for savoring and really tasting foods with their amazing bevy of flavors. If you think about it, when you go to a tasting class — whether it’s wine, cheese, or chocolate — the flavors on your tongue ignite as you stop and slowly allow the food or beverage to dissipate.

To savor means to taste and enjoy the food or drink completely. The slow, deliberate act of tasting excites the senses and creates an extraordinary experience.

Stay active every day

Exercise is one of the top ways to maintain weight throughout a lifetime. You don’t have to spend a lot of time working out, either. Activity can come in many forms and in short bursts — ten-minute increments spaced throughout the day can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit!

Before beginning any new physical activity consult with your healthcare provider. Start small, with light activity, and then progress to the harder stuff. Aim for 150 minutes per week.

Here are some ideas for short-burst, ten-minute activities:

  • Ride your bike to and from a corner store.

  • Walk your dog around the block.

  • Jog to and from the mailbox.

  • Hula-hoop to music.

  • Dance to your favorite song.

  • Hit the mat for push-ups, sit-ups, and/or planks.

Eat balanced meals and snacks

Combining lean sources of protein with high-fiber carbohydrates and healthy fats helps keep blood sugar in check, fends off cravings, and can help to decrease the chance of overeating and weight gain.

The goal of the Total Body Diet is to place less emphasis on foods to avoid and more emphasis on foods to add for health, happiness, and vitality for life.

Think about balancing the nutrient density (the quality of the calories you consume) with what you expend with physical activity. Aim to include more foods that will give you greater nutritional bang for the calories.

Nutrient-dense foods to include in your day include: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and lowfat dairy products, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, and seeds.

Allow small indulgences

Part of balancing your eating and drinking is allowing some of your favorites — moderately and mindfully. There’s nothing wrong with having a cookie, chocolate, or ice cream, but it’s how often — and how much — you eat that counts.

Your parents offered sage advice when they told you to eat your vegetables, fruits, proteins, and grains on your plate before reaching for a sweet treat. After you’ve eaten a day’s worth of nutrient-rich foods, indulging in a decadent, calorie-controlled treat is perfectly acceptable.

Here are guidelines for a small indulgence:

  • Eat nutrient-rich foods beforehand.

  • Calorie-control the indulgence (150 to 200 calories is enough).

  • Choose food over liquid indulgences — you’ll enjoy it more and chewing food will force you to slow down.

  • Don’t forget to write your indulgence on your food diary. Include how you felt before and after eating it.

  • Enjoy the indulgence guilt-free!