7 Realistic Ways to Lose Weight Without Restrictive Dieting

Hint — there’s truly no one-size-fits-all.

By: Dominique Michelle Astorino

If you’re thinking about cutting out major food groups or massively restricting your calorie intake: stop right there! There are some things you should know about diets, including this: there’s a better way to live. Obviously, we’ll always be here to tell you that eating well and working out is about so much more than weight loss, but if losing weight happens to be your goal or something you’re working on with your medical provider, then let’s take a look at how to go about this with realistic weight loss tips and without destroying your relationship with food. 

Why Restrictive Dieting Doesn’t Work

Can you think of anyone close to you who’s been on a restricted diet for a long period of time and has succeeded and enjoyed it? If you can, this is a pretty special exception. 

For the most part, diets tend to fail (particularly restrictive ones), and those who lost weight (i.e., succeeded) tend to gain back more weight than they lost within four to five years.

These types of meal plans, if you will, tend to backfire — not only are they generally quite tough to stick to, but the stress they cause can do more psychological and physiological damage than just eating a balanced, healthy diet with foods you love incorporated in (read: something you’ll stick to for a long time). 

What and how we eat is a complex psychological, emotional process. Not only does nutrition play a role in our mental health, but how we think about food can affect our metabolism, thanks to stress. In sum, feeling good about what you eat is just as important as the nutritional content of the food itself.

When you don’t honor this, you’re in for a lot of the wild ride mentioned above: backfiring plans, gaining more weight, and dealing with psychological consequences. So what do we do?

7 Realistic Weight Loss Tips That Don’t Involve Dieting 

#1 Focus On Healthy Foods You Enjoy

So many dietitians and nutritionists love this approach to healthy eating. Instead of focusing on the “don’t,” instead focus on the “do.” In lieu of cutting out foods, try adding new, nutrient-packed meals into your weekly or daily routine. 

If you’re newer to the healthy eating corner of the internet, welcome. It’s more delicious than you think (and yes, we are saying that as people who still enjoy pizza, pasta, and ice cream). To get started with your new healthy food experiment, try adding in one new recipe a week. FitOn PRO offers nutritionist-developed healthy recipes that will get your wheels turning (and mouth salivating — trust us). 

#2 Make Satiety Your Goal

Have you heard about satiety? It’s the sciency way to describe physical and emotional satisfaction… feeling truly full and satiated from what you eat (i.e., no cravings or hunger pangs 30 minutes later). 

If you’ve ever skipped meals for hours on end and thus turned into a hangry, low-blood-sugar monster, you might recognize this: you’re starving, you don’t have the energy to even think about a healthy meal, so you eat something quick and at your disposal, like a candy bar or a piece of bread. Those foods are all fine and well, but they don’t leave you feeling full. A short while later, and you’re hungry again, despite ingesting a pretty significant amount of calories. But why?

It’s likely because they’re simple sugars (you know, that quick hit of energy you needed!) without any form of protein, fat, or complex carbohydrates (that take longer to digest).

Focusing on those healthier macronutrients will allow your body to feel full for longer, which can help cut down on excess consumption.

Satiety is one of those weight loss tips that may make a big difference for you simply because you can start focusing on eating for nourishment — when your body is nourished, you may find those pesky cravings start to subside! 

#3 Try Portion Control

While we don’t want you to overemphasize calorie restriction or eliminating food groups, there is some use to be found in portion control, particularly if you find that overeating is a tough habit to break. 

There are certain portion control tips, like switching the size of your plates and bowls. In fact, there’s science that shows how different colored plates affect how much you eat — crazy, right? Like we said, food psychology is incredibly nuanced and complex. Try reading up on healthy portion control techniques to help you stick to your healthy eating goals. 

#4 Drink More Water

You may have heard this one before, but sometimes the body confuses thirst for hunger,  especially if we’re not as tuned into our mind-body connection. Pause and ask yourself: am I actually hungry, or do I just need a glass of water? That afternoon craving for a snack might just be a bit of good ole dehydration. 

Proper hydration isn’t just a weight loss tip, it’s super important for overall health. So, you can try drinking a full glass of water before every snack and meal and prioritize keeping up with your hydration throughout the day. 

Improved hydration has been associated with weight loss, among other significant health benefits. And even if you think you’re drinking enough water, chances are (according to American statistics) that you’re actually probably at least a little dehydrated.  

#5 Experience Mindful Eating

We love that more and more nutrition experts are talking about the benefits of the art of mindful eating. Simply slowing down, sitting down, putting the screens away, and truly focusing on your food can change the way you eat and digest

Think about if meditation and eating had a baby: that’s mindful eating. And the beautiful thing is: you don’t have to cut out your favorite foods… you just have to enjoy them more. Yes, seriously. Thinking about, appreciating, and experiencing the present moment with your food can impact your health.

An Oxford study in 2017 shared that “Mindfulness and mindful eating have the potential to address problematic eating behaviours and the challenges many face with controlling their food intake,” and that this approach to eating is solid “weight management advice.” 

Sounds nicer than cutting out carbs, right?

#6 Reduce Stress

In general, you’re going to want to give yourself the best chance at maintaining a healthy body. This applies to building immunity, feeling strong, having more energy, and yes — losing weight. You can give yourself a running start by eradicating major stressors in your life. And, we simply can’t talk about weight loss tips that don’t involve dieting without mentioning stress reduction. 

There are zillions of ways to approach this, but start with a deep reflection and look inward. What are some of the most triggering, most stressful experiences you have each day? What causes you to feel feelings of anger, fear, sadness? Are there certain things you vent about to your friends more than others? Take inventory — this can give you major clues as to what you need to work on (or eliminate) from your life to live healthier and happier

We believe that everyone can benefit from working with a mental health professional (why do we have an annual “physical” health check-in, but not a mental one??), but if that is inaccessible to you, there are so many resources for finding more joy each day, practicing self-care, recharging, and reducing stress.

Reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone or in front of a computer, get outside a bit more, connect with loved ones, journal — they might sound annoying at first, but breaking out of bad habits and getting into new, healthy ones will allow you to grow and thrive. 

#7 Find Your Perfect Workout Routine

And finally, the pièce de resistance in your no-elimination-diet weight-loss program: a workout you love. If you haven’t found something that really gets you to come back day after day, fear not: try anything from dance and barre to yoga and Pilates, to HIIT and kickboxing and strength training

Try a few five to ten-minute workouts to get yourself started (think of it as an appetizer platter or beer flight — but for workouts). Find what charges you up and clicks with your mood and energy, and go from there. Like adding in healthy foods you love, by adding healthy exercise you love, there’s one more reason why you don’t need to eliminate anything from your life to reach your goals. 

Find What Works For You

Maybe you haven’t been too stressed, but you have been dehydrated. Or you find yourself snacking on simple sugars when you really should try some almond butter and apple slices for healthy fats and fiber (satiety!). Or, maybe you’ve got the satiety dialed but have yet to find a workout routine you love. Maybe you need every single tip on this list!

Whatever the case may be, we are here to remind you again that health is not one-size-fits-all, and your path to feeling good and reaching your goals is unique. Good luck on this journey, and know we’re here for you every step of the way!