Congratulations – you’ve made it! You’ve achieved your weight loss goal and are transitioning to the maintenance phase. You deserve lots of recognition for this wonderful achievement. However, it can be tempting to slack off once you enter the maintenance part of your weight control journey. It’s important to realize that—while you can eat a bit more—you need to stay vigilant to ensure you maintain the weight loss you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
- Pay attention to portion sizes: It might be difficult to remember that you don’t need as much food as you used to eat, and that the portion sizes you once consumed were what contributed to your weight control issues. Keep the following rules in mind when selecting portion sizes:
a. A portion of meat is about 3 oz—and should be no larger than a deck of cards.
b. A portion of starch—whether brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or potatoes—should be no larger than a cup, or about the size of your fist.
c. A teaspoon of healthy fat—like olive oil, avocado, or nuts—is about the same size as the tip of your index finger.
- Snack smart: Snacking can be an asset to your weight maintenance efforts, or derail them completely. Remember that it’s best to eat every 4 to 5 hours to keep your body fueled. Going any longer between meals invites fatigue and excessive hunger. If you’re able to eat well-balanced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners within 4 to 5 hours of each other, that’s wonderful. However, if you’re like most of us, there will often be times when you can’t eat a main meal every 4 to 5 hours. This is when sensible snacking comes in. Eating a small (about 150-calorie) snack can help maintain your energy levels, and prevent overeating at your next meal. Choose something with some protein, carbs, and a little fat—an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, a cup of plain low-fat yogurt with fruit, even a half sandwich with some lean turkey or ham. Remember, the objective of a snack is to keep you fueled for just a couple hours—until your next meal—so it should just take the edge off your hunger.
- Prepare for success: Everyone knows planning ahead on a medical weight loss plan is crucial to staying on track. However, these strong planning skills will serve you well during maintenance, too. This is especially true when you’re eating a wide variety of foods again, and need to stay on track at your work luncheon, or at brunch with a friend. Each night, think carefully about what the next day’s eating schedule will be. If you won’t be cooking your own meals, figure out what you’re going to eat. This may involve checking a restaurant’s menu online and deciding what will be the best choice for you. Or you may need to ask the assistant who orders your work lunches for a special order. Don’t be afraid to request what you need. The more you prepare, the more likely you’ll stay on track once you’re there. Planning skills are essential in many areas of life; your weight maintenance plan is just another way these skills can keep you successful and healthy, too.
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