two orange smoothies beside lemons and flowers

It’s a New Year, filled with boundless promise and potential. I love that clean slate feeling…like anything is possible. And maybe for you, 2015 brings with it the dream of building a healthier body.

Of course, if weight loss is part of that new, healthier you…you will have to enter the minefield of Dietworld. Pick your poison: websites, books, magazines and well-intended friends are all there to give you advice on how to lose the weight. Some of it is solid…but most of it isn’t.

It might seem like reaching a healthy weight is the hardest thing you will ever do.  The whole world does seem driven to  keep feeding you unhealthy food while it obsessively berates you with health information. Not exactly fair. And for those of us who truly want to change, we are bombarded with advertisements and commercials promising that their exclusive program will help you keep the weight off for good.  Inevitably, quick fixes fail as soon as you give them up because working out for two hours a day is boring or you actually don’t like the taste of bran all that much.

Permanent change requires permanent change. You CAN be successful at reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and there are no pills, powders or weird equipment to buy. It takes a careful evaluation of your lifestyle and identifying places where you can make simple swaps and changes that won’t overburden you. Weight loss should be a positive act – one of self-love and self-care.

Try these simple tips and tricks for how to maintain a healthy weight without being on a Diet.  With the start of the New Year and resolutions still fresh in everyone’s mind, what better time to try some of these suggestions?

Try a smaller plate: You’ve heard it from your mom while growing up, “finish your plate!” and we are usually programmed to eat what is put in front of us, feeling full only when we have cleaned our plates. Research from Cornell University has shown that this ideal holds true regardless of plate size!  So if you want to shave off some unnecessary calories, try eating meals on smaller dishes.  You’ll probably still feel satisfied after your meal when you’ve eaten less.

Fill half your plate with vegetables: Vegetables truly are the superheroes of maintaining a healthy weight.  High in micronutrients, low in fat and calories, and a source of dietary fibre, vegetables fill you up without weighing you down! Aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables at every meal and your figure (and the cells within it) will thank you! There are  so many ways to prepare vegetables that you’ll never get bored; have fun and experiment.

Watch portion sizes: I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “everything in moderation” hundreds of times throughout your life, but it is one of the easiest tricks to enjoy your favourite foods without expanding your waistline.  Portion meals out onto your plate before you begin eating.  This is especially important for snacking and easy-to-overeat foods like pasta, cheese and breads. Portion out a single serving and put the bag or container away to discourage you from devouring the whole container!

Know the dangers of drinking your Calories:  In the winter months, warm specialty lattes might be your favourite way to feel warm and cozy but beware: some of these coffee beverages can contain over 400 Calories!  More often than not, we don’t compensate for this by eating less later on, leading to weight gain.  Instead, try drinking regular coffee with a bit of milk and some honey for sweetness, and add a dash of cinnamon to spice things up.  Save those lattes with whipped cream and chocolate shavings as a special treat, not an everyday indulgence.

Make Super Snack Swaps: Eating to maintain a healthy weight doesn’t mean that you have to give up the foods you love. Instead, experiment with healthy swaps!  Love chips and dip?  Try chopped veggies (like carrots and kohlrabi) with hummus to get that same satisfying crunch.  There are also a lot of healthy substitutions you can use in baking to make your favourite treats a little better for you.  Applesauce, Greek yogurt, and avocados can easily be swapped into recipes with minimal differences in taste and texture.

Track your activity: Feel like you might be getting off track?  There are lots of great diet tracking apps that can help you chart your progress and see where you can make improvements to maintain your weight.  Apps such as MyFitnessPal allow you to record what you eat at meals so you can keep track of your daily caloric intake.  Dietitians of Canada has developed where you can record your daily physical activity and meals, as well as plan future meals and browse recipes. These are especially great to take to your dietitian so he or she can review your progress and make realistic plans for future change.

Here’s to a deliciously healthy New Year,

A big thank you to Britney Lentz for helping me to put this post together!