1. Drink water. People often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like eating something, reach for the water first. Drinking also helps you feel full. Some experts suggest sipping water (or iced tea) just before you sit down to a meal. Continue drinking as you eat to add volume and weight to your meal.
2. Set realistic goals. Aim for 0.8–1 kg per week for safe weight loss. The slower the loss the more likely you are to maintain the weight. Top weight-loss programs advocate stopping after the first 5 kg and maintaining that loss for about six months before trying to lose any more.
3. Build in splurges. If you allow yourself to eat whatever you want for two meals out of every 21, you won’t inflict enough damage to subvert your weight-loss program. And you’ll feel less deprived.
4. Count to 10. Studies suggest that the average craving lasts only about 10 minutes. So before caving in to your urge, set your mental timer for a 10 minute time-out. Use the time to tackle an item on your to-do list. Choose one that will give you a sense of accomplishment — and get you out of the kitchen.
5. Eat more often. People who have kept their weight off for more than a few years tend to eat an average of five times a day. Light and frequent meals tend to curb your appetite, boost your energy, improve your mood and even speed your metabolism, because the process of digestion itself burns kilojoules.
6. Make weekly resolutions. Don’t try to overhaul your diet overnight. If you make too many changes at once, chances are you’ll get frustrated and throw in the towel. Instead, make one change, such as eating at least one piece of fruit daily, every week.
7. Start with 10 per cent. People who start by focusing on achieving just 10 per cent of their long-range weight-loss goal may have the best chance of ultimate success. Losing those first kilos yields the biggest health gains too, since fat around the stomach is usually the first to come off and is the most dangerous.