Dietitian Melissa Meier shares what your day on a plate should look like for healthy weight loss, plus why depriving yourself of food might actually be counterproductive.
If you have a goal to lose weight this year, you might be wondering where to start. I can confidently say the last place I’d ever recommend is with a silly fad diet – they’re unrealistic, unsustainable and usually nutritionally inadequate.
So, where to next? Well, there’s no specific diet or miracle elixir to help you shed kilos… it all comes down to consistent healthy eating and exercise, which both work to create an energy deficit. To get you started on the healthy eating front, here are my top five dietitian-approved tips for long-lasting healthy weight loss.
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1. Focus on your mindset
Weight loss isn’t just a numbers game, the way you think about food is pivotal to your long-term success. So, it’s time to drop the ‘all or nothing’ mentality and instead, adopt a more balanced approach to eating. Accept the fact that there’s no such thing as a perfect diet – just do your best to eat as well as you can most of the time and let go of food guilt.
2. Don’t deprive yourself
The reason diets don’t work is they drag you into a downward spiral of deprivation, where you eventually give in to temptation and then feel bad about yourself, only to start the cycle again the very next day. Instead of this restrictive cycle, factor regular guilt-free treats into your meal plan so you don’t feel deprived, and you’ll be far more likely to get the results you’re after.
3. Follow the healthy plate model (at every single meal!)
The healthy plate model is a formula for plating up healthy meals that’ll help you get the balance right every time. The idea is that you fill half of your plate with non-starchy veg, a quarter of your plate with lean protein and a quarter with low-GI carbs.
4. Cut back on everything you drink, except water
Alcohol, juice, soft drink, cordial and energy drinks – you name it, they’re packed with unnecessary liquid calories. Instead of pouring yourself a sweet sip every time you need to quench your thirst, choose a simple glass of water. It could easily save you hundreds of calories over an entire day.
5. Track yourself
A little bit of accountability goes a long way – but I’m not talking about logging each and every mouthful in a calorie-counting app or weighing yourself and recording it every other morning. Instead, invest some time in a mindful eating journal. It’ll help to increase your awareness around food and help you to tap into your hunger and fullness cues.
Your weight loss day on a plate
All that being said, you might still be unsure where to start when it comes to your shopping trolley. To give you a helping hand, here’s my dietitian-approved weight loss day on a plate that follows the healthy plate model to a tee.
Notice there are no superfoods or expensive health food buys in sight, just humble, wholesome goodness you’ll be able to find in any regular supermarket. Plus, it’s delicious and super satisfying – everything you want in a weight loss meal plan.
- Breakfast: half a cup of natural muesli with 170g reduced-fat yoghurt and the pulp of one passionfruit
- Morning tea: one skim flat white and one nectarine
- Lunch: salad made of half a cup of cooked quinoa, half a sweet potato (roasted), a third of a can of chickpeas and a handful of rocket, dressed in a mixture of Greek yoghurt, mustard, lemon juice and finely chopped parsley
- Afternoon: four whole grain crispbreads topped with a tablespoon of hummus
- Dinner: 200g fillet of baked white fish, served with roasted pumpkin, homemade coleslaw dressed in yoghurt and lemon juice and a small wholemeal bread roll
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.