You’ve tried dieting, exercising your tush off, cutting out midday snacks, joining weight loss groups and maybe even hypnosis—but you’ve gained the weight back and then some. Not to mention, you feel frustrated when you keep such close tabs on your food intake only to still have trouble buttoning your pants. You know you should be upping the veggies and cutting out sugar and refined carbs, but what else can you do? Well, here are 7 unconventional—and frankly, more enjoyable and attainable—things to consider that just might do the trick.
- You don’t need to cut out carbs, but focus on the right ones. Try switching out your grain-based foods (like pasta, bread, rice or crackers) for starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squashes (think acorn, butternut, spaghetti and delicata), green plantains, taro root and yuca. These are easier for our bodies to digest, offer an array of antioxidants and micronutrients to stave off illness and keep us healthy, and some also help feed the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts—the right balance of which not only keeps us healthy, but contributes to a healthy weight as well. Haven’t heard of some of these? It’s a great opportunity to experiment with trying some new recipes and getting creative. Most of the tubers are easy to prepare, another bonus.
- Stay super hydrated. Sometimes thirst is masked as hunger, so we reach for food instead of what our body is really asking for—water. Aim for about half your body weight in ounces per day of water, and try drinking a glass or two of water before eating if you feel hungry but think you may not be.
- Try sniffing or sipping essential oils. Dropping a dash or two of peppermint essential oil into a glass of water or inhaling some before a meal may help decrease your appetite and feel more satiated with less. Grapefruit essential oil may also aid in weight loss efforts, and the citrus scents like bergamot, sweet orange and lemon can help uplift your mood and reduce stress. Angst and worry can tend to counter weight-loss success, so these oils can be a subtle player in reaching your goals.
- Snack and season simply. Using just a few ingredients and flavorings will make your food less palatable (but tasty enough), which helps us stop eating sooner. When meals contain a lot of fat and flavor, we tend to keep eating, and have a hard time saying no. When foods reveal their natural, simpler essence, we can tune in to when we’re actually full, and stop eating rather than continue because it just.tastes.so.good. Save the extra-indulgent items for special occasions so the results don’t add up over time.
- Increase the amount of protein you eat. Protein can help ward off sugar cravings, and also fills us up and keeps us full longer than, say, carbs—yet they’re less palatable than carbs or fat, so we tend to eat less of it. And high-quality sources of protein like fish, poultry, meat, eggs or nuts are nutrient-dense foods that offer an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants our bodies need.
- Incorporate bitter foods into your diet. Greens like mustard greens, radicchio, dandelion, kale and arugula can prompt the release of gastric and bile secretions, which the body uses for digestion, fat burning and liver/gallbladder detox. Bitter foods can also help regulate blood sugar levels and hunger. Including these foods regularly also may reduce sugar cravings, and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, helps clear heat from the body. Taking a bitter tonic before or after meals is another option.
- Don’t fear fat! Fat won’t make you fat, and instead fills you up and provides fuel for our brains and helps us absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) that we need for a myriad of daily functions. Enjoy beneficial fats like grass-fed meat, avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut and olive oils, and fatty fish.