This simple trick is the key to losing weight

When it comes to diets, weight control and nutrition, this is the key to success. And it could not be simpler.

It is safe to say that most of us know what we should (or should not) be eating – we know that fruits and vegetables are good, and we know that fried food is not so good. We know that chocolate is high in calories, and we know that if we eat less we will lose weight. Knowledge is not the issue.

Rather, in busy, over-scheduled lives, our healthy eating regimes and the best of intentions fall off track when we find ourselves hungry and without good food choices on hand. Sometimes we may be able to ignore the hunger pains and wait until we stumble across an apple, but in more cases than not the deep desire for food sees us searching desk drawers, attacking vending machines or at the local shop stocking up on high fat, high sugar, carbohydrate rich foods that feed our low blood sugar levels like a drug feeds an addict.

The simple act of planning on the other hand ensures that we are never caught off guard and always have healthy options on hand to make it easy to eat well. And while some people may opt to spend hours each Sunday packing portion controlled lunches, the good news is that it does not have to be this labour intensive to get good results.

1. Schedule time

One the greatest barriers to taking control of our food and calorie intake is finding ourselves in a cycle of not having enough time and bouncing from week to week eating whatever crosses our path. The solution to this is easy – all we need to do is schedule time to get organised. All you need is 20-30 minutes each week to plan a few meals, write a shopping list and consider the way your upcoming week will impact your food choices. For example, if you know that you will be home late a couple of nights, you then also know that you will need a couple of quick and easy meal options that can be heated quickly to avoid you resorting to high fat take away

2. Shop online

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If you visit the supermarket several times each week, chances are you are not only purchasing extra foods you do not need, but also wasting plenty of valuable time – parking, queuing and waiting. Shopping online not only saves much time and energy but helps you to plan your meals in advance. There is also the option of ordering a fruit and veggie box delivery each week to ensure you have your fresh staples on hand or have an array of healthy snack options and lunch staples delivered straight to your workplace. This way you do not need to worry about hauling food to and from work every day but you always have healthy lunch and snacks on hand.

3. Cook smart

In an ideal work we would grow fresh produce in our garden, shop locally and prepare healthy home-cooked meals each night. Unfortunately busy lives are not always conducive to this grassroots approach to our food intake and fewer and fewer people are finding time to cook a healthy meal each night. For this reason, looking at time efficient ways to prepare meals is the key to success and this can translate into bulk preparing meals in advance so you cook just once or twice each week. A solid cook up of 1-2 larger meals such as casseroles, stews, mince and soup can give you at least 2-3 meals as well as lunches, freeing up extra time on other evenings when you know you will struggle to find the time to cook a meal from scratch.

4. Create habits

Eating well long-term is about building solid food habits that become your natural default. For example, taking your lunch with you each day, or always keeping a water bottle or healthy snack with you. It takes between 30-90 days to cement a long term habit which is why committing to focusing on your nutrition for a set period of time will help to initially identify and over solidify the health habits you know you need to build and maintain long term. Phone or computer reminders and alarms, post it notes and regular time outs on a daily basis are all tools that can help you to refocus on the health habits you are working and help to keep you on track with your dietary goals.

5. Have back ups

In life, things rarely go to plan – the time you had set aside for meal preparation gets eaten away by other commitments; your shopping order does not arrive or despite the best of intentions you forget to take your lunch. To help buffer for these regular occurrences when it comes to your nutrition, always have a backup plan. Keep a healthy frozen meal on hand; know what you can order from the food court if you need, and keep a protein or meal bar in your work bag for emergencies. Remember, your nutrition does not have to be perfect to get good results, it just has to be consistent.

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How to lose weight this weekend

Use the time off to kickstart your health goals and set yourself up for a week of success.

Weekends are notorious for weight gain – socialising, plenty of drinking and eating and far less time spent at the gym inevitably mean an excessive calorie intake and even a kilo or two of extra weight if you are not careful.

So, how can you make the most of the weekend and even lose some weight?

Well, your weekend may need to be toned down a little but come Monday morning it will all be worth it.

1. Exercise more than usual

Weekends mean more time, and more time means that you have more time to move your body. Forget a single class at the gym or a quick run around the block on Sunday afternoon, if you are serious about shifting the kilos you need to spend a lot of your weekend hours on your feet. Plan a long walk or ride; walk to an event rather than catch a cab or drive, or schedule some exercise both morning and evening of each Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not only will your body feel a lot better at the end of each day, but you will help to compensate for the many hours we spend sitting down during the week.

2. Cut back on your meals

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Weekends inevitably mean more eating, and more eating means a whole lot more calories. A relatively simple weekend strategy is to swap your regular meals and snacks for a couple of larger meals – say a brunch and then a restaurant meal out. Not only will the change in your food routine help boost metabolic rate, but eating a couple of substantial meals with plenty of hours in between will help you actually feel hungry in between eating occasions.

3. Avoid the calorie bombs

You may find it is via alcohol; fast or takeaway foods or weekend fried treats but when you include some pastry, fried food, pizza, hot chips or several glasses of wine or beer you can literally consume hundreds and hundreds of extra calories. Once you ditch the low nutrient density foods such as heavy breads, dips, fried pub foods, pizza and large volumes of alcohol you will keep your calories tightly controlled which will support fat burning.

4. Ditch the feeders

Of all the behavioural research available, there are two key predictors shown to encourage the consumption of ‘extra’ or ‘discretionary’ foods – how available these foods are, and whether those around us (friends, family, and work colleagues) are eating. For this reason, if you spend your weekends with friends and family who are constantly stuffing their faces, ultimately you will eat a whole lot more too. For this reason, if your goal is to really take control of your diet and lifestyle and drop a kilo or two, you need to be strict about who you spend your time with. Seek out supportive, motivated people who will encourage you to keep being active and not make you feel guilty for not indulging in high calorie foods you are trying not to eat. Remember, we become like the people we spend our time with.

5. Go light on Sunday night

A lot can be said for a low calorie meal every so often. Not only are low calorie soups, frittatas and salads packed full of nutrition, but when they are packed full of vegetables and not much else, they can contain as few as 200-300 calories per serve, or less than half the calories we would usually consume in a meal. Swapping your regular Sunday night pizza or pasta for a low calorie meal helps to contribute to an overall calorie deficit and weight loss; it means you will more likely wake up hungry some Monday morning and it sets us up with a good habit of resetting our diet each Sunday night with a vegetable rich, low calorie dinner.

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