So you decide to make some changes in your lifestyle and start with a diet. After all, nutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy and happy life. But, do you feel like your diet could be more effective? Like you’re not getting the maximum from your daily menu? Don’t worry, it’s not that difficult to make your diet work better. Some seemingly harmless habits may hamper your progress. Or introducing a couple of useful lifestyle tweaks can push things in the right direction. Scroll down to see some of the most effective tips to make your diet more effective.
1. Avoid fad diets.
The first and most important tip to make your diet work better is to choose your diet wisely. Nowadays we are swamped with all sorts of fad diets that promise miraculous results within a couple of weeks. Many of these diets are promoted by social media stars, or influencers, who swear by them and claim their enviable physique is the result of following that specific eating regimen.
However, fad diets can be dangerous and the best thing to do is to avoid them. A vast majority of fad diets require very low carbohydrate intake, which may not be such a good idea. Persons who adhere to these diets often need to use dietary supplements to improve nutrient intake and support their weight loss (1).
One study found that the models who followed fad diets didn’t have adequate levels of nutrients in their bodies due to improper food selection and psychological factors (2).
In other words, to make your diet work better you should eat a well-balanced diet instead of adhering to trendy nutrition programs that carry more harm than good.
2. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
It’s not always about what you eat only, but how you eat. The pace at which you eat can influence the results of your diet and contribute to or impair your weight-loss efforts.
You see, fast eating is associated with increased BMI, higher intake of calories, and poor cardio-metabolic health (3, 4). A person’s appetite, the amount of food they eat, and how full they feel are all regulated by hormones. These hormones send signals to the brain to notify it when you’re full or hungry. That being said, it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive these signals.
For that reason eating your food slowly gives the brain enough time to realize you’re full. As a result, you will not overeat and consume too many calories, which could lead to weight gain. In fact, evidence confirms eating slowly can decrease the number of calories you eat and thereby helps you slim down (5).
Yet another reason to eat slowly is that you also get to chew food more thoroughly. The digestive system finds it easier to absorb all the nutrients. Also, chewing food thoroughly aid weight loss and its management.
3. Be creative.
A common problem for many people is that they believe there aren’t many delicious and healthy foods they can eat. As a result, they are stuck with a few ingredients they eat all the time. That’s not the wisest approach in the world.
As you limit yourself to a few foods, you fail to obtain the nutrients that other foods provide. Even if the foods you do eat are healthful, too. When that happens, you can’t get the most from your diet and it is not going to work properly.
The solution is simple – be creative.
Strive to educate yourself on different foods you can eat to supply the body with a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other much-needed compounds. The more foods you include, the healthier your diet will be and results will show.
You should also explore your creativity in the kitchen. Mix and match different foods and ingredients to find combinations that work for you and your family the most. You don’t have to be the Masterchef to do so. A little bit of willpower and creativity is everything you need.
4. Change how you feel about your diet.
Relationship with food may influence our adherence to some diets or results we obtain from them. In many cases, people consider a healthy diet as a punishment or a temporary solution for a specific problem such as weight gain. It’s not uncommon for people to encourage themselves to stick to a certain diet for a little longer, just to lose a few more pounds.
But, that doesn’t work and it could be the reason your diet isn’t giving you what you need.
You see, a healthy diet shouldn’t be considered a punishment. At the same time, an unhealthy diet should not be regarded as a reward.
Instead, try thinking about your diet as an integral component of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t think about it as an eating regimen you’re going to abandon eventually.
Once you change your attitude toward healthy eating, you’ll be more motivated and work harder. That way, your diet can become more effective. Because as long as you consider healthy eating a punishment or temporary lifestyle measure, you won’t give 100% of your potential to make it a success.
5. Eat whole grain bread.
Most people love bread and can’t imagine eating a meal without it. The problem occurs when we’re told to ditch the bread and never eat it again. This rule is difficult to stick to. It’s not uncommon for people to give in and eat bread again, in higher quantities. But the bread per se is not the problem here, it’s the ingredients used for baking.
You can support your diet, make it more effective, and eat bread at the same time by making a simple tweak – instead of refined, eat whole grain bread.
Refined grains are not the healthiest whereas whole grains have a wide array of health benefits ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (6, 7, 8). Additionally, whole grains are a good source of fiber, B-complex vitamins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, and magnesium.
The best thing about whole grain bread is that it’s available in several varieties. Plus, they’re tastier than refined bread.
6. Don’t shop for food when hungry.
Grocery shopping is a regular activity. Some people do it every week, others once a month, everyone’s got their routine. What you buy in the grocery store or a supermarket influences the effectiveness of your diet. Just think about it for a second, you enter a huge supermarket and you’re surrounded by all sorts of foods, including snacks and other unhealthy foods. The problem with these unhealthy foods is that they come in appealing packages and simply call us to buy them. And, in many cases, we do. We buy these foods thinking we won’t eat them immediately, but of course, the opposite happens.
One way to avoid all this hassle is to avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach. While it may seem like such odd advice, it makes sense. In fact, it’s scientifically confirmed that grocery shopping on an empty stomach makes you buy more calories than food (9).
When you’re feeling full, you don’t crave unhealthy foods. In turn, your shopping choices are wise and you buy healthier, more satiating foods that are lower in calories.
7. Don’t go grocery shopping without a list.
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. Not only should you avoid going grocery shopping on an empty stomach, but you should also avoid going to the store without a shopping list. Why, though? Well, when you don’t know what you need, you are more inclined to buy things you don’t. This includes some unhealthy foods that you would otherwise skip and not write down onto your shopping list.
Basically, shopping lists keep your trips to the grocery store or supermarket focused on items you need only. As a result, you don’t pay attention to unhealthy items that would jeopardize your diet. By buying foods that support your diet, the eating regimen will be more effective.
8. Drink plenty of water.
Our overall health requires plenty of water. It would be impossible to talk about different things for a more effective diet and skip water intake primarily because many people don’t drink enough water during the day.
So, how does water help your diet work better?
Drinking water before meals can decrease appetite and promote a feeling of fullness thereby reducing food intake during the meal (10, 11). A lower intake of calories during the meal can support weight loss or aid weight management.
But, keep in mind it’s water that can make your diet more effective, not just any other beverage. Many people opt for fruit juices instead of water. But these beverages, especially store-bought items, are abundant in sugar and calories. In other words, they could be an enemy to your diet, not a friend.
Strive to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Set up reminders on your phone or download an app to track water intake.
9. Be picky with nighttime snacks.
Nighttime snacks are the greatest obstacle to a healthy diet and successful weight loss for most people. Everything’s going fine the whole day. Suddenly you find yourself in front of a fridge taking out a big ice cream container, or you’re holding your phone in your hand ordering pizza. Mindless eating is at its worst after dinner when you’re sitting, watching TV, and trying to relax after a long day. While this may seem like a cozy scenario, it’s a major enemy to your diet and may lead to weight gain.
To avoid this common pitfall, you should make sure to eat a healthy, satiating dinner. Choose foods that are delicious, but also fill you up and keep you full for hours. Avoid eating junk food for dinner because it’s laden with empty calories that will only make you hungry shortly after.
If you simply can’t say no to late-night snacks, be picky about them. Don’t reach for ice cream, chocolate, cookies, or pizza first. Instead, you may want to opt for a low-calorie snack.
10. Choose restaurants wisely.
Yet another reason your diet may not work properly is that you fall off track when eating out. That’s a common problem for many people. Their diet seems to be working okay until it’s time to meet up with friends somewhere. However, eating out doesn’t necessarily mean you are bound to eat something unhealthy that will impair your diet.
Choose restaurants wisely. If you feel like a specific restaurant won’t support your diet regimen, feel free to recommend an alternative to your friends. The best thing to do is to choose restaurants with a wider selection of healthy meals so that everyone can eat something delicious, yet healthy.
11. Eat baked potatoes instead of French fries.
Americans consume over 16 pounds of French fries every year. That accounts for over two million pounds of French fries (12). Reasons people like French fries are numerous. They’re tasty, affordable, and quickly prepared. But, are they healthy? Not exactly!
Eating baked potatoes is a great way to make your diet work better. Instead of French fries, just opt for delicious, yet healthier baked potatoes and decrease the number of calories you consume. You see, 3.5 ounces (100g) of baked potatoes contain 93 calories. The same amount of French fries supplies the body with 333 calories (13, 14). The staggering difference, right?
French fries are abundant in salt and trans fats. Not only do high-sodium foods and trans fats contribute to weight gain, but they can also harm your cardiovascular health.
If you are a fan of French fries, this could be the reason your diet isn’t working at the level you hoped it would. Start incorporating baked potatoes into your diet instead and decrease your intake of French fries. You can combine baked potatoes with other vegetables and get a healthy, yet delicious meal.
12. Eat the green first.
Do you push the greens aside during mealtime to eat them last? If so, you may want to reconsider this habit because it could be preventing your diet from working properly. By the time you finish with others, less healthy parts of the meals, you’re not hungry (or willing) enough to eat the greens. As a result, you don’t obtain all the nutrients and fiber the greens have to offer.
So, a great way to avoid this problem is to eat the greens first. Remember, they are abundant in fiber which supports digestion, suppresses appetite, and keeps you full for longer (15).
If you feel like your diet could be more effective, it’s not too late to make some tweaks. Simple adjustments in your lifestyle, shopping habits, and eating habits can make your diet work better. The key is to adopt a healthy lifestyle in general and opt for foods that will give you plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Try to experiment with ingredients and strive to learn to prepare a new (healthy) meal every week or month.