Losing weight and keeping it off comes down to making permanent changes in the way you eat. Although many eating habits are formed in childhood, it’s never too late to improve. But you’ll need to reinforce them until they become second nature.
One high-tech way is with diet apps that send you motivational text messages as reminders to stay on track. It’s like having a personal coach on your phone or smartwatch.
Be very focused about your diet. Set yourself up for success by taking time each week to plan out daily menus, draw up a shopping list, and make a few do-ahead meals if possible. This prevents impulse shopping and eating when you’re short on time and willpower, especially toward the end of the day when hunger hormones ramp up.
If preparing a high-quality meal takes too much time, you’re not likely to do it, so look for healthy shortcuts, like buying a freshly made rotisserie chicken rather than a bucket of fried nuggets. And stock up on fresh fruit and nuts for snacks.
Continually adjust the balance of healthy and unhealthy foods you’re eating by decreasing high-fat sweets and increasing vegetables, for example. But make the switchover gradual so you won’t feel deprived. That means just one or two one-for-one food substitutions each week, like replacing “baloney-on-white” sandwiches with turkey on whole grain bread for lunch.
And remember to reward yourself for following good habits in non-food ways. Rather than celebrating a job well done with a hot fudge sundae, treat yourself to a bouquet of fresh flowers or a new book.
Kaiser Permanente offers a roundup of the best diet apps according to user reviews, and many of them are free.