We know that losing weight isn’t easy. You’ve really worked hard for it. But maintaining your waistline where it is could be just as challenging.
However, the good news is that there are ways to avoid common dieting mistakes and achieve lasting weight loss success.
Read on for the top 29 tips for maintaining your weight loss over the long term.
1. Take an evening off
Even people who are dieting can have a night off once in a while. Decide what you’re going to have and allow yourself to indulge for the evening, but make it one night only – it’s back to healthy eating the next day!
2. Water Filler
Your body can often confuse hunger with thirst, so next time you think you’re hungry try first drinking a glass of water before you reach for the snacks. That way, you’ll start to read your body’s signs better and only snack when you’re genuinely hungry.
3. Don’t skip to be slim
Many people think skipping a meal makes it easier to cut calories, but you will actually be more likely to overeat later. Instead, aim to have three balanced meals per day plus two or three small healthy snacks.
4. Double up on weight loss
Take a two-pronged approach to losing weight to make it sustainable — instead of trying to cut, say, 500 calories a day from your diet, cut out half the amount and make up the rest with exercise. This would mean cutting out 250 calories and burning off a further 250 by, for example, walking briskly for around 3 km (2 miles).
5. Eat small to eat less
A lot of food satisfaction comes from how food looks on the plate, so to trick yourself into feeling satisfied with smaller portions, simply use smaller plates. It might sound silly, but studies have shown that people feel fuller if they think they’ve eaten a plateful, no matter what size!
6. Full stop
Stop eating when you’re full. It sounds simple, but many of us are conditioned to finish what’s on our plates regardless of whether we’ve had enough. After every mouthful, pause and think about whether you really want the next one.
7. Quality not quantity
The sight of a buffet table is enough to send most dieters running for cover, but don’t despair – a good trick for keeping buffets healthy is to eat larger portions of fewer things, instead of lots of little nibbles. Pile up on protein, fruit and vegetables, and foods high in fibre.
8. Leave a note
Many people snack on high-calorie foods without realising they’re doing it. Train yourself out of it by leaving a note on the outside of your fridge to remind you that if you’re going to have a snack you should a) want it and b) enjoy it.
9. Cut to the chase
If you’re serving bread with a meal or in a sandwich, make sure you cut thin slices rather than doorsteps (thick slices). Most people will eat the same number of slices no matter how thick, so reduce calories by making slices thinner.
10. Keep your balance
As a general guide for someone who does moderate exercise and isn’t greatly over- or underweight, one pound of body fat equals 4000 calories. This means that in order to shed a pound a week, you would need to reduce your total number of calories by just over 500 calories a day.
11. Equal rewards
If you find overeating a problem, find a non-food alternative which you also find rewarding. This could include exercise, prayer, yoga, listening to music, browsing the internet, phoning a friend, reading a magazine, or many other alternatives.
12. Dip your nuts
For a healthy after-dinner snack that won’t pile on the pounds, choose nuts or dried fruits dipped in dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa solids is best.
13. Save yourself for the best
One useful guideline in cutting calories is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Often, people who choose “low fat” versions of their normal desserts or treats are disappointed when they just don’t taste the same. Why not “save up” your calories and have the occasional indulgent treat instead.
14. Ditch the pastry
Quiche is often seen as a healthy choice, but the problem is the pastry. A standard 23-cm (9-inch) pastry case contains 41 g of fat, 63 g of carbohydrates and 818 mg of sodium. Choose a pastry-free omelette instead.
15. Diet with diary
Calcium actually helps your body to expel fat, helping you to lose weight and maintain healthy cholesterol, but only if the calcium comes from dairy products. Lower-fat dairy products have the most absorbable minerals, so try to choose them wherever possible.
16. Trust an angel
Instead of your usual afternoon cake or biscuits, try angel layer cake (or angel cake), which is much lower in fat. To make an even healthier snack, serve it with fruit purée.
17. A new coat
If you’re on a low-carb diet but want to make fish or chicken in breadcrumbs, try using crushed pork rinds instead, mixed with a few herbs or spices. That way, you’ll get the crispy outer shell and stay carb-free.
18. See through soup
Instead of soups containing cream, choose those with tomato or clear broth as their base. For example, instead of leek and potato or cream of mushroom, try tomato and, herb or carrot and coriander.
19. Cheese melt
If you’re a toasted cheese sandwich fan, but don’t want the extra calories, make yourself a low-fat version by grilling the toast and adding a small amount of cheese which has been melted in the microwave. That way you can cut down on non-essential fat.
20. Mix your own yogurts
Replace fruit yogurts, which can contain quite high levels of sugar and fat, with your own fruit purée. Add it to low-fat natural yogurt and top with a sprinkling of seeds for an extra health boost.
21. Cut a quarter
When butter or oil is needed in recipes, try reducing the amount by a quarter. For instance, if your recipe calls for 50 g ,(2 oz) butter, try cutting it down to 25 g (1.5 oz). If you can’t taste the difference, reduce it by another quarter next time. You will be surprised just how little fat is really necessary.
22. Co for cottage
Try pureeing low-fat cottage cheese into a smooth paste and using it instead of full-fat cream cheese in recipes and as a spread. Alternatively, combine half and half.
23. Roll up a treat
If you simply can’t live without biscuits or cakes with your afternoon tea, choose healthier options. Fig rolls contain less saturated fat and more fruit content than chocolate biscuits or those with cream fillings. Mixed berry or fruit and spice oat biscuits have a low GI, too.
24. Reap the rewards
Set yourself realistic goals and reward yourself (not with chocolate!) for achieving them. Try something like “for one week I will eat one additional fruit or vegetable portion a day and avoid second helpings”.
25. Mist your pan
Instead of sloshing butter or margarine into the pan to prevent sticking while you’re frying, invest in a plant mister and fill it with olive oil, which is a healthy cooking oil. Then, y0u can be sure you’re only using as much as you really need.
26. Smooth operator
Thick smoothies can actually fill you up for longer than a solid meal because their volume causes the stomach to expand more. This makes them a great choice for breakfast or lunch, when you may have to wait some time before your next meal.
27. Grate, Fine
It’s the fat in cheese that helps it melt uniformly low fat varieties of melt in patches or take much longer. To make sure your low-fat cheese melts properly, grate it first using the fine side of your grater.
28. No yolks please
An easy way to lower your calorie content of your egg sandwiches is to hard boil eggs and use only the egg whites for the filling. That way, you cut out on the calorific yolks but keep the eggy taste.
29. Pick low fat
Instead of ice cream desserts, choose low fat soya versions or simply use frozen yogurt for a yummy pudding without all the saturated fat or calories.
References:  Zhu W, Cai D, Wang Y, Lin N, Hu Q, Qi Y, Ma S, Amarasekara S. Calcium plus vitamin D3 supplementation facilitated fat loss in overweight and obese college students with very-low calcium consumption: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 2013 Jan 8;12:8. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-8.