1. Cut red meat down to twice a week. Not only does this make a dramatic difference in your calorie intake, it is also beneficial to your health. Unless you have a deficiency, you do not need to eat red meat more than twice a week in order to have enough iron. Meat—particularly red meat—is extremely fatty, so cutting down your consumption helps with problems like heart conditions, constipation and a fat belly, too.
2. Cut out/cut down bread and pasta. It is a Western myth that bread and pasta are what you should consume the most of on the food pyramid. The reason this came about is that oats and grains are considered one of the healthiest of the food genres (for use of a better word) and being the quickest and tastiest, foods made of wheat or flour won in this department. In reality, they are not that good for you at all and have a whole lot of calories in them. Instead, opt for things made of whole oats and grains (muesli, rice, cous cous, wraps, porridge or a decent muesli bar—no Uncle Toby’s fruit and yoghurt-coated crap please), or, if you do choose to eat bread or pasta, ensure it’s the healthiest version possible. Think gluten free, wholemeal, sourdough, etc. This will help you lose weight, feel less bloated and will probably lighten your mood.
3. If you’re a snacker, snack all day! The only catch is that these snacks will most likely replace a set lunch, if you’re looking to lose weight. As someone who is used to consuming snacks throughout the day on top of lunch, I found that I was going over my calorie count when I started my diet and would get tired and hungry when I tried to lose the snacks, which I won’t stand for in trying to get healthy. So, I found that by replacing lunch with a large snack instead, I was satisfied throughout the day and wasn’t going over my calorie count. A lot of our eating is habitual, and without some of these habits being filled we will feel unsatisfied and grumpy, so it’s important to keep eating regularly in a diet or you’ll lose it. For a lunch in these cases, I recommend 2 carrots and hummus (or 4 sticks of celery and hummus), a bowl of low-fat yoghurt and a banana, a small bowl of mashed potato and pumpkin (easy on the butter!), a small rice salad or a bowl of vegetable stir-fry.
4. Gardening. Or more so, weeding. I was so shocked when I found out that 30 minutes of hardcore gardening burned the same amount of calories as the 30-minute walk-run I’d been working so hard on! As long as you put your back in to it and really hack into those weeds, you’re looking at burning about 170 to 200 calories per half-hour. This is about as much as a decent power-walk, but you will probably find you have more drive to keep going on this one as you visually see the progress you’re making. Just be careful you wear gloves and don’t make your garden look like an excavation (guilty as charged).
5. Calorie counting. I know, I know, I’m a real wanker for suggesting this, but unfortunately, it works. It’s extremely hard at first and a bit of a risk if you’re not the most disciplined Joe, but once you’ve been doing it for about two or three weeks, you will know enough off the top of your head to know around how many calories you’re consuming. Just don’t tell anyone you’re doing it, because you really will look like a piece, and for God’s sakes, don’t try to do it on your own! Download an app such as My Fitness Pal or Calorie Counter and let them do the work for you. You can also download measurement calculators to help you with things like converting kj’s to calories or grams to cups. I would highly recommend this method if you’ve been trying to lose weight and are not getting anywhere, even if you just search some of your most consumed foods and gain a little knowledge of which contain lots of calories and which don’t. Something vital to remember when doing this is to do your research and see what other people eat; otherwise, you could end up starving yourself, for lack of a better process. Remember, you never have to go hungry or unsatisfied in dieting!