9 smart tips for losing weight

Stick to your weight-loss plan by making the right food choices.

By Donna Fleming
You've resolved to lose weight this year, but you can't shift the kilos despite what seems like your best efforts. There may be simple reasons - and easy remedies as well.
you're not eating enough
When you suddenly consume a lot less, your body slows down your metabolism to conserve precious calories and you can stop losing weight. You should still be eating plenty, but avoid calorie-dense foods and have those that get your metabolism going, such as berries, broccoli and wholegrains.
You reward any exercise with food
After sweating at the gym, you figure you can treat yourself, but you're just undoing much of that hard work. You need to walk for an hour or lift weights for 25 minutes to burn off a 60g chocolate bar. Is it worth it?
You're drinking lots of calories
Soft drinks, sugary tea and coffee, and alcohol add a lot more calories than you think. Water is best, but try watered-down fruit juices and green tea. Dry wine has fewer calories. Some research suggests that artificial sweeteners in diet drinks can stimulate hunger, and because they don't quell cravings for real sugar, you may start reaching for the biscuit tin.
You're not prepared for temptation
You've worked out what you should be eating for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but what happens when there's a morning tea at work for a departing colleague or your child wants to do baking on the weekend? It can be hard to find the willpower to say no. Have a plan in place. Keep fruit, nuts or other healthy snacks handy for when your workmates eat cake. Learn how to distract yourself, and practise saying, "No thanks."
You're overdoing the "healthy snacks"
Healthy snacks such as nuts are a much better alternative than lollies or chips, but they are also high in calories and you won't lose weight if you're eating too many. Measure out a small portion - a handful of nuts for example - and then put the packet away until the next day.
You're eating more than you realise
It is easy to underestimate how much you eat. You may think you've had three main meals and one light snack, but what about the handful of chips or the soft drink you snuck in the car? Write down every morsel that passes your lips in a diary to keep track of what you consume.
Your old habits are creeping back
It is easy to get complacent when you have been dieting for a while. You tell yourself a dessert or extra butter on your toast won't make much difference, but it does all add up. You only have to reintroduce a couple of bad habits a day and you'll notice its affects.
You are not getting enough sleep
There's a link between sleep and weight - people who are sleep-deprived have higher levels of hormones linked with hunger and fat storage. Plus we tend to crave unhealthy foods that will give us a quick pick-me-up when we are tired.
You're skipping meals
This won't help - instead you can end up eating more to make up for the meal you've missed. And it messes with your metabolism, slowing down how fast you burn calories. Try to eat regularly.

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