Healthy Diet: 5 Tips to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

There’s no reason to starve yourself to lose weight. This article will explain how to have a healthy diet to shed off those extra kilos.

A young woman eating a plate of fresh salad with a variety of healthy foods next to her 

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding weight loss that disregard health entirely. These can include starving yourself, cutting out essential food groups, skipping meals, overexercising, and taking questionable diet pills.

Not only are these suggestions mainly false – they can cause health issues too. For example, snacking on healthy foods can maintain your energy level, so it would be a mistake to avoid them altogether. There’s also little science behind “fat-free” or natural food products that say they will enhance metabolism – some of them may contain a high level of sugar that can cause weight gain. 

A healthy diet is not about shunning foods. It is about establishing a harmonious relationship with foods. Read along as we unveil five tips to maintain a healthy diet and achieve overall health and wellness.

5 Healthy Diet Tips

A young woman sitting at a dining table with a slice of cake and a cup of coffee
A healthy diet makes room for occasional sweet treats.

Here are five healthy diet tips that won’t compromise your overall health and wellness.

1. Change your mindset about diets

First, dismiss everything you think you know about dieting to lose weight. Perhaps, throughout your life, you’ve learned that being on a diet means eating certain foods and steering clear of other kinds.

You’ve probably read that you must eat only salads or vegetables to achieve your ideal weight. Some diet plans may also recommend staying away from rice, fried foods, and sugar – forever.  

It’s true that vegetables are healthy and fried foods are not. However, if you deprive yourself of something too forcefully, you may end up craving foods that are high in fat and sugar, leading you to weight gain. You may also miss some much-needed nutrients from foods that are deemed fattening, like meat and carbs.

2. Portion size is important

The key is moderation! All kinds of foods can be part of your healthy diet when you consume them in moderate portions. You can try this simple healthy plate guide: 

  1. Divide your plate into three parts. 
  2. Fill the first quarter with carbohydrates (rice, noodles, bread, potatoes, etc.). 
  3. Then, fill the second quarter with protein (meat, fish, eggs, etc.). 
  4. Finally, ensure the remaining half is filled with vegetables and fruits.

3. Abide by the 80/20 rule

Give yourself a break with the 80/20 rule. This diet plan allows you to indulge – but just 20% of the time! Ensure a balanced diet 80% of the time (six days a week). During that one “cheat” day, treat yourself to foods you like but may not be necessarily healthy – like cakes, ice cream, potato chips or a bowl of instant noodles. This is a great mood booster that will encourage you to stay on your healthy diet plans more consistently.

4. Consume herbal drinks

We’ve been talking about foods, but let’s not forget that being hydrated is part of a healthy diet as well. When you’re hydrated, you might want to snack less. 

  • For men, the Institute of Medicine recommends a total of three litres of fluid each day.
  • For women, a little over two litres of fluid each day is ideal.   

Water is always crucial for your health. To add to your liquid intake, you can try natural drinks that consist of herbs to regulate physiological functions and promote metabolism. These herbs include Chinese Angelia (radix angelicae sinensis, danggui), cnidium (rhizoma chuanxiong) and red dates (fructus jujube, hong zao).

5. Cook your own food

Taking the time to prepare and cook your food has been scientifically proven to help you lose weight. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University conclude that home cooks are less likely to consume sugar, fat, and calories. The study shows that people who regularly make their own food eat fewer calories per day.  

Moreover, cooking for yourself is a great way to practice healthy eating. The same research also finds that the more you cook, the more conscious you become of the foods you have outside your house. There’s an indication that since you’re already used to eating healthy foods at home, you subconsciously opt for them when you’re dining outside.

Healthy Diets According to Ancient Medicine

A nutritious meal comprising salmon, beans, peas, and tomatoes
A healthy diet should consist of grains, meat, vegetables, and fruits in proper proportions.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our daily diet should have balanced nutrition to maintain health, prevent diseases, and promote longevity.

Ancient TCM monographs like those in the Canon of Yellow EmperorShennong’s Classic of Materia Medica, Invaluable Prescriptions for Ready Reference, Principles of Correct Diet have discussed in detail how diet plays a significant role in human’s physiology, pathology, health maintenance, and treatment of diseases. 

Proper proportions

In TCM, grains, meat, vegetables, and fruits in proper proportions are key to ensuring our body functions optimally. More importantly, we should not starve ourselves, even if we are trying to lose weight. This is because starvation will cause deficiency of vital energy and blood as well as negatively impact our immune system, resulting in diseases such as malnutrition, anaemia, or gastrointestinal issues. 

Nutritional tips

TCM Physician Jolene Chong from Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic offers a few nutritional tips for a balanced diet:  

  • Consume foods that are cooked thoroughly 
  • Avoid foods and drinks that are cold, raw, oily, too sweet, spicy, or deep-fried 
  • Choose low-fat and low-sodium foods 
  • Go for a light diet with more fruits and vegetables is an excellent choice, but keep balanced nutrition in mind 
  • Observe the intake of rich foods such as organ meats and seafood  
  • Ensure regular mealtimes and drink sufficient water every day 

Physician Chong shares that there are also many lipids-lowering Traditional Chinese herbs that can assist in better metabolism of lipids and the expulsion of excess water from our body. For example, alisma (泽泻, ze xie), hawthorn fruit (山楂, shan zha), cassia seeds (决明子, jue ming zi), polygonum or fleeceflower (何首乌, he shou wu), coix barley (薏苡仁, yi yi ren), finger citron fruit 佛手, and others.  

“Apart from observing a healthy diet, smooth bowel movement also helps promote metabolism,” she says, adding that regular exercise, good sleep quality, and maintaining a happy mood are also important.  

Often, many people mistake a healthy diet as eating less, or worse, not eating at all. It’s high time that we free ourselves from this mindset. Getting to know your foods, instead of avoiding them, is one of the most fulfilling ways towards a truly healthy diet.

This is an adaptation of an article, “两大要诀- 如何与你的食物和平共处? (Two tips: how to live in peace with your food?)”, which first appeared on Health 123 website.

References

  1. National Health Service. 2018. 10 weight loss myths. [Accessed 9 November 2021] 
  2. Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. 2014. Study Suggests Home Cooking is a Main Ingredient in Healthier Diet. [Accessed 9 November 2021] 
  3. ScienceDirect. 2018. Food therapy and medical diet therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. [Accessed 9 November 2021] 

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