Are you trying to lose weight or maintain a successful weight loss after lifestyle changes, medication and/or surgery? It is important to realize that the key to lasting weight management is developing lifelong healthy habits. In addition, it is also necessary to develop good coping strategies to deal with challenges that arise, be realistic with expectations and be creative with ways to keep yourself motivated. This four-part series will offer helpful tips for weight loss and maintenance including: 

  1. healthy eating (parts one and two) 
  2. exercise (part three) 
  3. behavior modification (part four) 


Part One: Healthy Eating  

1. Have a sound eating plan backed by science and that includes regular support from medical professionals 

 It can be difficult to decipher all the information about weight loss out there. Consult with your medical team and a dietitian to develop a specific, individualized weight loss program that incorporates a balanced meal plan (along with physical activity and behavior modification).  Seek out support from your medical team to create a comprehensive and personalized plan for weight loss that you can stick to for the long term.  

  • Plan regular visits with your team to set goals, weigh in, evaluate progress, and help deal with challenges and setbacks. 
  • Come prepared to medical/dietitian visits with a list of questions and any issues you may be having.  Keep a food diary, if possible to review at your visits,  Being prepared will help  maximize your time together and help them help you. 
  •  Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have concerns or setbacks, the more you share, the better your team can work with you to assist you in succeeding. 


2. Choose a meal plan that includes regular meals plus snacks. 

It is important to fuel yourself adequately throughout the day. Excess hunger can lead to overeating, not to mention it makes you feel crummy and can work against your blood sugar and weight goals. Follow a meal plan that provides you with meals and snacks at planned times during the day.! 

  • Eat balanced meals using the plate method (1/4 of your plate from protein + ¼ from starchy foods,  with the other ½ filled with non-starchy vegetables) and add 2-3 sensible snacks in between. 
  • Drinking plenty of water and low-calorie fluids will keep you hydrated and set you up for success. 
  • Look at your schedule in advance to plan times that you can take time to prepare and eat meals, especially during weeks that are busy or when you are traveling. 
  • Set alarms or timers to remind yourself to eat and drink water so you don’t get caught up in chaos of hectic day and forget to eat/drink. 


3. Plan to treat yourself once in a while. 

Of course, it is difficult (and for most, impossible) to never eat the foods you love. If you forbid yourself from eating a particular food, you may feel deprived and end up overeating it.  Lifelong healthy eating is about choice and finding a way to balance all the foods that you enjoy. These foods will need to be eaten within reason as far as your weight loss and weight maintenance plan is concerned.  

  • Don’t cut out the foods you love entirely, instead give yourself permission to have these foods during a special occasion or celebration. Develop strategies ahead of time to work them into your meal plan occasionally. A dietitian can  work with you on this challenge. 
  • Find a way to balance the problem food in a healthy way by not restricting but rather reserving it for a certain time when you are free to really enjoy it.  
  • Plan to “cheat” by eating lighter at meals before and after your splurge.  
  • When treating yourself, remember it is all about the portion size. Have a smaller serving of your favorite food as part of a healthy meal that also includes plenty of vegetables and protein (to help keep you full) to avoid overdoing it.  


4. Stock your pantry and fridge with the right foods and minimize less healthy ones. 

Having healthy alternatives available when you are hungry encourages adherence to your meal plan whereas having too many high calorie foods, snacks and desserts invites temptation. Relying on willpower to stop you from eating irresistible foods will not work if faced with these food choices every day. In fact, willpower should not be one of your ongoing strategies to improve your eating habits. Instead, keep yourself in check by stocking your pantry and fridge with healthy choices! 

  • Makeover your pantry by shopping according to a list of foods that fit your meal plan and throw out or give away any foods that are not on your meal plan. Remove problem foods from the house on a regular basis and you will begin to move away from consuming these foods. Try to consume your treats when you are out so they are not in the house to tempt you for repeat consumption, or freeze small portions to be able to have once in  a while. 
  • Keep your food environment stocked with ready to eat healthier food items and snack alternatives that are available at all times. Pre-cut veggies and fruit to have for snacking and to use at meals is helpful.  Keep protein foods like cooked chicken, peanut butter, hard boiled eggs and precooked beans on hand for quick meal prep. Having plenty of healthy food choices ready to eat helps you avoid the pitfalls of eating too many empty-calorie foods that get in the way of weight loss or maintaining your weight. 


5. Avoid eating in bulk 

A large container of food like a bag of nuts or tub of frozen yogurt is an open invitation to overindulge with spikes in your blood sugar and weight as a result.  Even if you are stocking your kitchen with healthy foods, keep aware of portions to stick to your daily goals.  

  • Avoid eating straight out or the container and instead take one serving of your food out and eat it at the table.   
  • Use measuring cups/spoons and scales to help you portion out your food.   It is also helpful to have snacks and meals pre-portioned in baggies or reusable containers to be able to grab and go. 
  • Beware of serving meals family style and instead portion your plate in the kitchen before you head to the table. Pre-portioning your foods ahead of times ensures that you don’t over serve yourself! 


6. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast. 

Many studies over the years  have shown that eating breakfast can help with weight loss.  Make time to include breakfast in the morning so you can fuel your body and mind and stave off any excess hunger leading to overeating at lunch or later in the day. Take a minute to fuel yourself with healthy food to start your day off right. 

  • Include a high-fiber carbohydrate with some added protein to keep your blood sugar stable and help with satiety. Quick choices on the go could include a slice of toast or whole grain waffle with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, one cup of low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with ½ cup berries or banana slices, or a stick of string cheese plus a piece of fruit.  
  • If you have more time to prepare an AM meal, whip up an egg white or 1 egg omelet with shredded low-fat cheese and diced veggies with a side of toast or fruit.  Or try ½ cup cooked oats sprinkled with ¼ cup chopped nuts. 


Keep an eye out for PART TWO which will reveal some additional healthy eating strategies for weight loss and maintenance success!