8 Helpful Tips to Help You Stick to Your Diet

A customer at a fitness bar at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph enjoys a smoothie.
Reginald Creech, Force Fitness Bar customer, receives a protein smoothie after a workout at the Rambler Fitness Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Jan. 20, 2017. (Airman 1st Class Lauren Parsons/U.S. Air Force photo)

It appears that most people are concerned about eating properly, but many need a few tips. I have received several emails about proper dieting habits and what foods are good to eat during the day. Well, I am not a dietitian but one of my co-authors is, and this article is almost entirely Lauri Cutlipe's dieting recommendations. In the book "Maximum Fitness: The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Cross-training," Cutlipe wrote the nutrition chapter.

1. Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y

Eat slowly and enjoy the flavors. Try to chew your food at least 40 times per mouthful.

2. Don't skip breakfast

Eat something: a piece of toast, fruit, etc. Your body's metabolism rate slows down at night and does not speed up again until you eat something. If you wait until lunch to eat, that is four or more hours that your body is burning calories at a lower rate. Eat something soon after you get out of bed, and your body will burn calories at a higher rate until lunch. This is a great time for exercise, too, by the way.

3. Don't eat after 8 p.m.

Because most of us work, we eat when we are told to eat. Whether we are hungry or not, if the office lunch hour is noon, then we must eat at noon or go without food. Many of us eat because it is "time" to eat. In other words, we eat out of habit, not because we need to eat.

Eat snacks whenever you "need" to. Fruits, vegetables, yogurt or a tuna sandwich is a great mid-day snack that will help your body stay in fat-burning mode. So don't go more than five hours during the day without eating. It causes you to eat more at meal time and decreases your metabolism.

4. Fight cavities

Right after eating a meal, especially dinner, go straight to the bathroom to brush, floss and mouthwash so that your mouth is feeling nice and clean. This makes it less appealing to eat more (especially before bedtime).

5. Chew gum and/or drink water if hungry

Most people confuse hunger with dehydration. If you just drink a glass of water, that usually will take care of the food yearning. Optimal levels of water per day, as stated by the National Institutes of Health, are a half to one gallon a day. Add one extra glass of water per every 10 pounds overweight, too.

6. Avoid distracting places for eating

If you eat your meals away from the TV and other distracting places, you will enjoy them more and will take a little longer to eat them.

7. Keep a daily diary of your caloric intake

Your weight in pounds, multiplied by 15, will equal the number of calories per day needed to maintain that weight. Five hundred calories less per day will result in approximately one pound of weight loss per week; 750 calories = 1½ pounds less per week; 1,000 calories = two pounds less per week. Keep a daily diary. Fat, carbohydrates and protein will adjust themselves automatically to stay within the allotted calories per day.

8. Exercise more instead of decreasing your food intake

I would rather exercise more than decrease what I eat. If you burn these excess calories during the day through exercise, it has the same effect as dieting. And eat more often, not more portions. Try to eat something every 3-4 hours you are awake. This will help your metabolism stay high.

Good luck.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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