My Best Weight Loss Tips To Stick To Your Diet in 2022
If I could sum up the one weight loss tip that has been more important to my weight loss journey than all others in 2021, the one thing that made it possible to stick to my plan, it would be this one:
No Snacking Between Meals
If I never counted calories, counted macros, or worked out, and I could do this one thing, I can maintain my weight loss almost effortlessly.
Let me explain why this is the most important diet strategy:
Looking back at 2021, I’ve learned so much about myself and my eating habits. I’ve really tried to be reflective and find out, why I eat, why I overeat, how to maintain my weight loss, how to avoid temptations, which foods are triggers for me, what my reasons for sticking to my diet are, and more.
But because I’m human, the answers to these questions are always changing.
Sometimes, I can’t control myself around certain foods, while other times I have incredible discipline.
For every habit I believe I struggle with, I can find evidence in my behavior of a time I didn’t struggle with the same thing. Finding out where I am, in different seasons of my life, and how to best cope with my challenges is going to be a life long pursuit. It requires me to be thoughtful before I impulsively indulge in foods, and be reflective when I do.
Throughout the year, there was one thing that was true-it was easiest to stick to my food plan when I didn’t graze, snack, taste my food as I prepped it, or told myself this one bite doesn’t matter, etc. When I didn’t eat between meals, I kept my weight off.
My slippery slope
This past month, I did a LOT of snacking. I took about 10 days off of exercise during the holidays, and I was pretty consistently eating between meals. Let’s be honest. Food is ALWAYS within arms reach!
It’s a slippery slope. It always starts with one untracked bite of leftovers, or treats sitting on the counter, and it balloons to zero tracking and bowl after bowl after bowl of cereal in between meals.
It’s not that my weight got out of control. It was only a few weeks of eating mindlessly, but I felt out of control, and I don’t like that feeling at all. When I feel disciplined, I feel good. When I give into every craving the second I have it, I don’t feel good.
Just so you can get to know me a little better, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the times I eat when it’s not meal time.
- I have a habit of getting something to eat before I start on a project, when I finish a project, or when I get home from being out.
- I have a habit of eating while I cook or prepare food.
- I have a habit of getting a craving, and indulging it IMMEDIATELY. Without discipline or being conscious of my actions.
- After a meal, I graze while cleaning up the kitchen.
My goal for 2022
It takes 66 days to solidify a habit.
There’s pretty good research indicating that the true length of time to form a habit is 66 days (source)
Do you know how awesome it would be if I only ate at 7 am, noon, and 5 pm. Three meals and a high protein dessert. If the habit was so strong that at 10am I wasn’t even thinking about food, I think that would be a success.
So, here are 10 tips I have considered would help me stick to the best habit of not eating between meals:
- Before I eat the meal, I clean up the food prep. This way, I’m not continuing to eat while I clean up, after I’m already done with my meal.
- I’m Not going to eat while cooking. This is VERY difficult for me. I literally have no idea why it’s so hard. But if I could stop nibbling on food while I’m cooking, I’m sure I’d be cutting out a massive amount of calories.
- Learn to pause between stimulus of wanting to eat and the response of eating. When I first started losing weight, this was the only thing I did, and it was so important in starting my weight loss journey. Pausing more, being reflective and thoughtful is important in ALL areas of life, including dieting. (read more about this weight loss strategy here)
- Get snack food out of the house. I am capable of overeating even the healthiest of snack foods. Even rice cakes! There have been many days when I’ve eaten a whole package of rice cakes. Although I don’t believe this would ruin my weight loss, I don’t like the feeling of being out of control. So pretzels, crackers, rice cakes, popcorn, etc, if I’m not going to eat it during meal time, I don’t need it in my cupboards.
- Practice NOT taking action on my impulses. When you take action on a craving, it reinforces the behavior. It’s SO hard to say no and not indulge when the urge hits. But, the ability to walk away from the urge gets stronger each time you do it. In fact, I’ve been known to keep a tally of the times I’ve walked away from indulging a craving during a day, and it does get easier every time you do it.
- Studies show, not eating the food reduces cravings better than eating the food. When I’m craving a snack, one hour after eating a meal, not eating it actually helps cravings go away than eating it. (great source here!)
- Pause to ask myself, “Why did I overeat and was it worth it?” Being reflective has been so important in my weight loss journey. Being present and asking questions to why you do certain behaviors is not just enlightening, but can help you create better health habits.
- Knowing the consequences of telling myself, “just this once.” I know eating off plan once in awhile does not lead to weight gain. But what it does lead to, is reinforcing a habit of grazing, and eating multiple times of ‘just this once’. Once I start, it’s a slippery slope. This year I want to catch myself every time I tell myself, just this once, and decide if it’s true.
- When I slip up, I won’t skip the next meal! This is a tough strategy, that inherently feels wrong, but in the long term, helps me stay more consistent. Here’s what it looks like (as evidence by just YESTERDAY. haha). Yesterday, I decided I wouldn’t eat between meals. I ate at 8am, and was planning my next meal at noon. But at 9am, I sat down to start working, and immediately had an urge to just “get a little snack to help me concentrate.” Was I hungry? No. Was it a habit that I would get a little snack before I started working? Absolutely. Unfortunately, I caved and got myself a tasty Built Bar. December me would have kept snacking and decided I would just turn it into a meal and then I’d skip lunch. New me, decided to accept the slip up, and just start again with a real, proper lunch, and it worked! The rest of the day I wasn’t snacking and I didn’t tell myself “screw it anyway and start fresh tomorrow.” I started fresh 3 hours later! It was much more effective than trying to make up for it by skipping the next meal. In fact, I like so much that this worked, that I might write more about this strategy in the future.
- Stay busy between meals. Getting bored is a huge reason I eat between meals. But, when I’m in flow, working on an article or project, the time between meals goes so quickly! Finding ways to stay busy is good for me. When I don’t feel like doing something, I can easily decide to do something easy and mindless and not let it be food. Watching crime shows on Youtube or reading a magazine actually works for me.
So, those are my best tips for sticking to my diet in the new year. The most important thing to remember is, the behavior, not the results is under your control. You can measure the success of not eating between meals, but you can control what the scale says each day. The behavior, not the results is the goal!
So, Who’s with me in avoiding snacking mindless in 2022?? Tell me in the comments below!
- Making Health Habitual, British Journal of General Practice
- James Clear, How long does it take to form a habit, with science
- Neurobiology of cravings, Harvard
- Never Binge Again- a great book and podcast.
Thank you for sharing your article for sharing meal plans and all 🙂
This blog is definitely helpful and informative. Great blog by the way and thanks for sharing these!
Your story is so very inspiring! I too have had weight issues my entire life. I’ve been losing then gaining even more back over and over again for years now. It’s so frustrating!! But after reading this, I finally have decided to not get so hung up on being a certain weight, but plan to just eat healthy with the suggestions you’ve given, exercise regularly and choose to be happy right NOW. This is the encouragement I needed to set me on this journey. I’m so grateful that I found your page!! I truly appreciate you sharing your story because I’m sure it will change the lives of many people. Prayers for your continued success as well as for all the others you’ve inspired for the better too!
Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I’m excited for you to have this new outlook. I hope you keep me updated on your progress, and don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions!Amy Roskelley
Your story is so very inspiring! I too have had weight issues my entire life. I’m just so tired of being consumed with my size. I’ve been losing weight then gaining even more back over and over again for years now. It’s so frustrating!! But after reading this, I finally have decided to not get so hung up on being a certain weight, but plan to just eat healthy with the suggestions you’ve given, exercise regularly and choose to be happy right NOW. Life’s too short to continue being discouraged. Your story is the encouragement I needed to set me on this journey. I’m so grateful that I found your page!! I think it’s time for me to just accept where I’m at today and start really enjoying my life instead of waiting to be happy until I reach a certain weight. So that’s what I plan to do! I truly appreciate you sharing your story because I’m sure it will change the lives of many others for their good. It’s given me the push I needed to remain focused on staying healthy. Prayers for your continued success as well as for all the others you’ve inspired to change their habits for the better too! Thank you!!
I love these tips! Count me in! No mindless snacking between meals.
Challenge approved! I’ll hold you to it. LOL
Love, love, LOVE this reminder. When I finally lost weight after years of serial dieting, it was following a three meal, no snacking approach. I couldn’t believe how easy it was because I ate proper meals and stopped binging. To lose the last few vanity pounds I’ve turned to calorie counting, but you’ve reinvigorated me to maybe try it again!!!
I’m so excited that you’re motivated! We all need this reminder!
As always, Amy, thank you for this sensitive and well-written piece. I do all the same things — even though I am at a “goal” weight. It helps normalize behavior and keep me from being stuck in a shame cycle.
Thanks Cara! I totally agree!
I’m just starting on one of your meal plans this week. I can relate to the mindless eating. Three years ago I was able to diet to my goal weight. I’ve gradually put the weight plus back on. I struggle because my husband is a big junk food eater. He will overstock the house with junk. Since it’s easily accessible I’m constantly finding reasons to justify just one. I’m going to try to mindfully resist my cravings.
I totally get it. One of my biggest weaknesses is crackers! And everyone in my house loves to have them around. They are just too easy to justify “just one”, and then I eat a whole sleeve of Ritz!
Good luck to both of us!!
Wow.. I’m amazed at this on point, smart article. I used to behave as a bulimic..meaning; it is behavior that is reinforced by obsessively thinking about what you can or cannot eat. I’ve also lost alot of weight in the past couple of years doing keto/intermittent fasting, but have noticed that it has morphed into another version of all or nothing mindset, and the weight and the calories have been climbing. I came to a “duh” realization, that when something has quit working, doubling down on it isn’t the answer 🤦🏻♀️ So I decided to let go of the extremes and just do what you are saying, which is EAT MORE- SNACK LESS. It also has the benefit of curtailed feelings of deprivation, and the “just this once” mind games to try to “beat the system”. The reduced level of stress has been the biggest bonus, and my weight has stabilized even with the reduced level of activity due to the weather. (I ride bike ALOT- over 7000 miles last year). Again THANK YOU!!
I’m so glad you got this from my article! I should have emphasized, when my meals are bigger (eat more), I’m less likely to binge and graze all day. So YES! I totally get it.
I love your biking miles! It’s so great to be outside for exercise.
Keep me updated on your journey towards less snacking, bigger meals!
Just read aloud a couple of your articles to my hubby!
Have (another) Healthy and Happy New Year!
Thank you so much for all you do… sharing meal plans, thoughts on habits, and strategies for staying on track! Your content has helped me more than any other I have come across. I feel it all relates to my fitness/nutrition journey (this article in particular as I struggle with cravings) and is super helpful. The meal plans are perfect for me as it is all foods I love to eat!
Thank you so much Jennifer! I needed to hear this today! I’m so glad you can related. I get nervous about things I say- even in this post, my husband thought it sounded like I have control issues. LOL. Maybe I do??! But, I just don’t want to go backwards and regain what I lost!
Happy New Year to you!
Thank you so much for reading and answering my comments straight away. I will definitely give maybe 4 meals per day a try as well as No Snacking when cooking. Cheers !
We got this! Keep me posted.
Since September I have been doing Slimfast. It has actually worked out great as I am losing weight like crazy. But I only do the two drinks a day. My truck is to truck my metabolism and not have the drinks on the same times everyday. According to Slimfast you can snack three times a day. The other thing I do is since I don’t do much I keep track of my calorie intake and I keep it under 1000 most days. Then I exercise for 1 hour everyday.
I am 58 years old and I still haven’t met goal! (I never had a problem until I was in my 40’s.) I am excited mostly for the simple meals. I work full time and I find myself getting anxious when it comes to planning, shopping and preparing food for supper. It doesn’t help that my hubby is big on eating out. I also don’t like spending money on all the ingredients that I will never use again. Your simple menus will greatly help me overcome this problem; I believe.
Question, I have a lot of arthritis and my knees are an issue. I plan to start being more discipline in my water exercises. Could I expect to see results like that in the area of exercise?
Thank you for creating this meal plan of 1200 calories. (If I exercise, I may have a protein/carb bar to help me have the energy, if I am really tired. LOL
God bless you!
Hi Tammy,I’m so excited to watch you on this journey! thanks for sharing your story with me.I KNOW you’ll have success with weight loss, even with minimal activity or water exercise. 1200 calories will put almost everyone in a calorie deficit so you shouldn’t have a problem at all.
Please keep me posted on your progress!
Hi Amy. Thank you for sharing your article. I definitely identified with it. I need to work on not eating “mindlessly”. I still do not understand why I do it. Just like you, I do not like feeling out of control with my eating. My weak point is usually after dinner. I go for a snack right after dinner when I am not really hungry. One snack turns into another and then another. Thanks for the tips. I will work on my bad behavior.
Hi Nicki – YES! It’s crazy how AFTER a full meal, habits kick in and we keep eating. I think just being aware we do this is great. And the more times you stop eating after dinner, the easier it will get!
You and I are exactly the same when it comes to eating but the thought of only having 3 meals during the day and nothing else fills me with despair.What if I stopped nibbling whilst preparing a meal, especially the evening meal…..do you think that could be a start ?
I wouldn’t mind I only want to lose 1 stone but it might as well be 10stone ! Think I’ll try that for now and let you know how it goes. 66 days to form a new habit !!!
I should have clarified, but even if you eat 3, 4 or 5 meals a day, it doesn’t matter. The entire challenge is to have actual meals, and not graze all day or eat in between meals. So, if you have 4 meals, you could eat at 8 am, 12:00, 3:00 and 6:00. I do this a lot!
But also, a GREAT start is to stop eating during meal prep! It’s possible to eat hundreds of calories before the meal ,and then we still eat the meal! It’s crazy. Definitely a great place to start.
Here’s to 66 days!