3 Simple Rules for Losing Weight (and Tips for Following Them)

A woman eats a salad
(Image credit: Healthy eating photo via Shutterstock)

It seems like there's a new weight loss study released every day, so it's no wonder why we're all so confused. There are so many different schools of thought, how could you know which is right? The truth is, although we're learning new things every day, the basic tenants of healthy eating haven't changed in hundreds of years:

  • Mother Nature produces the best health food around.
  • In order to be healthy, you must exercise.

Sure, following the rules falls into the category of "easier said than done," but that's why I was so pleased to see the results of a recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers took a close look at many dieting methods, and found three things that stood out. The best news is that while these things are simple and take very little effort, according to the study, they're also highly effective. The rules are:

  1. Keep a journal: Participants who were diligent about keeping food logs lost an average of six pounds more than those who weren't.
  2. Don't skip meals: Those who ate three meals a day lost an average of eight pounds more than the women who skipped meals.
  3. Avoid restaurant food: Restaurant food often contains more fat, calories and sodium than food prepared at home, so it's no surprise that women who ate away from home at least once per week lost an average of five fewer pounds than those who didn't.

Although these are simple tips, I know that a busy schedule can sometimes stand in the way of doing the right thing. So here are some tips for following these rules, regardless of what else is happening in your life.

  • Share your food journal with a partner. If you know someone will be checking up on your food logging, it will be a lot more difficult to skip a day. You don't want to have to explain yourself, do you?
  • Set aside some time, one day per week, to prepare meals and snacks. I like to prepare all my food for the week on Sunday. It's relaxing, and it makes me feel good to know I won't go hungry while I'm at work or on the go.
  • Find a lunch buddy at work and plan to eat in the cafeteria. There is safety in numbers, as they say. If you always have a plan to eat food you've prepared at home, you won't be tempted to head to a restaurant for lunch.
  • If you must eat out, order a simple garden salad with dressing on the side. Salads are generally safe because you know they're made with fresh ingredients. As long as you don't slather it with unhealthy dressing, you should be able to stay on track. It's still restaurant food, but it's a lot closer to the stuff you would have made at home.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.