It’s no secret that eating fewer calories than your body burns leads to weight loss. However, some people find it hard to control their appetites or habits around food.
Research suggests that the quality of your diet matters, in addition to calorie density. The foods that protect against heart disease and diabetes-like whole grains, nuts, and vegetables-also tend to help manage weight.
3. Change Your Sleep Patterns
People who do not get enough sleep tend to eat more calories during the day, Makekau says. This is because they experience hunger and are more likely to choose high-calorie foods, such as fried food or donuts, that contain lots of carbohydrates and calories. Research suggests that getting a good night’s sleep reduces ghrelin and increases leptin levels, which can help people feel full. In fact, one randomized clinical trial found that overweight adults who received sleep extension counseling and extended their sleep duration saw lower calorie intake than those who did not receive this type of therapy.
Set a regular bedtime and wake up time to help your body establish a consistent sleep-wake pattern. This is important because a messed up schedule can lead to stress, which can cause your body to store fat, Polos says.
4. Change Your Stress Levels
Stress is known to cause a variety of physical problems, such as stomach and sleep issues, headaches, fatigue, and even some breathing disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. However, it’s also been linked to weight gain, as elevated cortisol levels can affect metabolism and encourage cravings for sugary and fat-laden foods. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way can help you keep your weight and health under control. Stress reduction activities include meditation, yoga, and massage therapy.
5. Change Your Habits
Changing habits is a key part of making lasting changes to help you control your weight. To change your habits, you need to reflect on them, identify any unhealthy ones and come up with strategies to replace them with healthy ones. For example, if you find that you often eat too quickly or eat before or after a stressful event, consider eating with a friend or putting your fork down between bites to slow down your pace. This will help you feel more in control of your food intake and make healthier choices. Consider what stage of change you are in (contemplation, preparation, action or maintenance). The chart below may be helpful to identify roadblocks you might face as you try to change your habits.