Ah, it’s that time of year again. It seems ironic that we make weight-loss resolutions in winter, when there’s no shortage of warm pies fresh from the oven or crock-pots full of comfort food, rather than in summer when we can look forward to fresh berries and cool salads. But while researching my latest New York Times best-selling book, The Digest Diet, I was really struck by how much of weight loss is mental rather than physical. It’s not just about what you eat, but how you eat, when you eat—and how you present your food. For instance, studies have reported that people eat a whopping 40 percent more food when watching TV than during other activities. Imagine how much healthier we could all be if we stepped away from the tube!
I’ve pulled out my five favorites below, because I promise you, they make for completely achievable New Year’s resolutions. Start making 2013 the year of a happier, healthier you!
1. Eat just one less cookie a day.
Or consume one less can of regular soda, or one less glass of orange juice, or three fewer bites of a fast-food hamburger. Doing any of these saves you about 100 calories a day, according to weight-loss researcher James O. Hill, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado. Ask yourself if you really want it before you pop that bite in your mouth. Because that 100 calorie deficit alone is enough to prevent you from gaining the two-plus pounds most people pack on each year.
2. Avoid any prepared food that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label.
You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same food, even items you wouldn’t think are loaded with sugars like ketchup, mayonnaise, or salad dressing. Also, think about how you can “thrive in five”: Look for fiber, protein, vitamin C, calcium, or dairy in all of your food choices. Seeking out these fat releasing groups of vitamins and nutrients on labels makes it easier to fill up without filling out and burn fat naturally.
3. Clean your closet of “too-big” clothes.
As you move toward your target weight, throw out or give away every piece of clothing that’s too loose, baggy, or ill-fitting. The idea of having to buy a whole new wardrobe if you gain the weight back will serve as a strong incentive to maintain your new figure. And what better time to start fresh than January 1st?
4. Downsize your dinner plate.
Studies find that the more food that’s in front of you, the more you’ll eat—regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using 10 to 14 inch dinner plates that look empty if they’re not heaped with food, serve your main course on salad plates, which are only about 7 to 9 inches wide. The same goes for beverages. Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the “old” days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups. You’ll probably find you don’t miss the additional portion. You may already know this tip, but now is a great time to put it in action.
5. State the positive.
We’ve dubbed 2013 the year of optimism. You can, too! Instead of focusing on the things you think you can’t do—resisting junk food, or getting in a daily walk—repeat positive thoughts to yourself. “I can lose weight.” “I will get out for my walk today.” “I know I can resist after-dinner dessert.” Repeat these phrases like a mantra every day. Before too long, they will become your own self-fulfilling prophecy.
Happy New Year!