The battle against overweight seems to be a never-ending story for many. Crash diets promise fast weight loss in a short time without much effort, but if they work it's only a temporary solution to the problem and more often than not the weight comes back after a while. The reason for this is simple: They don't teach you how to eat right. And you can't stick to them for a lifetime.
If you not only want to successfully lose weight but also keep it off, there mustn't be a turning back to your old style of eating after a diet. You need to change your eating habits - permanently. Many of us are not prepared to make all these sacrifices. We don't want to give up the foods we love. The secret of changing your diet for successful and healthy weight loss is to focus on making the meals you eat healthier rather than banning foods or even food groups from your diet. This will ensure a way of eating you can grow old with and that ensures you get all the nutrients you need.
Three key principles of making your favorite meals healthier are:
Reducing calories Adding healthy foods Adapting portion sizes
If you want to lose weight, you need to cut down on calories, namely fat and carbohydrates.
Fat has the highest content of calories and is therefore the first thing to be reduced. You can easily do that by swapping dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt) for their low-fat or fat-free versions. Ricotta for example is a good low-fat replacement for mascarpone. Use low-fat margarine and spreads. Reduce the amount of oil you use when cooking, and preferably use olive or rape-seed oil which are the healthiest oils. To reduce carbohydrates, cut down on sugar. Use natural sweeteners like honey instead. Naturally sweet foods like sweet potatoes, fresh or dried fruit can also help reducing the sugar amount in your meals. Use only small amounts of dried fruit as they contain more calories than the same amount of fresh fruit. Further, swap your carbs for complex carbohydrates: whole grain bread and cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta. These will keep you going for longer as they are absorbed gradually over a longer period, and they are less likely to be stored as fat.
Add healthy foods
Fruits and vegetables are great providers of important nutrients, and because most of them are low in calories you don't have to worry so much about how much you eat. Try the following:
Top up your favorite meals by smuggling some fruit or vegetables in. Serve vegetables along with your meal as a side dish. Alternately, you could serve a vegetable soup as a starter or fruit as a dessert. Fruit purees are easy to make and a great addition to any ice-cream. Fruit goes excellent in chocolate cream or trifles.
Adapt portion sizes
Nowadays, our portion sizes have often grown out of proportion. Listen to your body to find out how much (or rather: how little) food you really need. Serve smaller portions, eat them slowly and enjoy them. Your body needs about twenty minutes to notify you that you had enough food, so give it a chance. If you are still hungry afterwards, you can always have more.
As you can see, you don't need to ban your favorite dishes to lose weight. Follow the outlined principles to make them as healthy as possible, and the foods that remain high in calories you just keep for occasional treats. If you eat healthy most of the time, some sweets once in a while won't make you fat.