12 Eating Habits For Permanent Weight Loss

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Do you want to lose weight and keep your ideal weight forever? I know it’s easier said than done. I struggled to lose weight for three years after giving birth.

What I learned is that short and quick weight loss programs and quick-fix slimming products don’t produce lasting weight loss by themselves. They can help you lose weight temporarily, but as soon as you stop using them, you gain the weight right back up.

It’s because you haven’t yet developed the right daily habits that actually support lasting weight loss. What you eat, when you eat, how much you eat, how you eat, how you choose and buy your food and how much you move all play an important role in your weight loss.

I know it’s hard to let go of unhelpful habits and it’s equally hard to develop new helpful habits. The key to creating a habit effectively is choosing the simplest, easiest habit you can start with. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else. If it’s too hard for you, dissect it and try one step at a time.

I’m excited to share with you the habits that have helped me achieve permanent weight loss in a safe and healthy way. In this article, I’ll only be talking about habits surrounding food and eating behavior. Stay tuned for my other articles on weight loss.

1. Track your calories.

You can only lose weight if your calorie intake from food is less than the calories you burn. If weight loss primarily involves calories, it’s worth your while to understand and track them.

If you want to learn more about calories and how to track them, please read my posts “Weight Loss: What You Need To Know FIRST” and “Weight Loss: How To Track Your Calories“.

Calorie mindfulness is the best way to lose weight. But if, for whatever reason, you find it impossible to do after giving it a try, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of good habits you can develop.

2. Eat more protein.

Protein is harder to digest compared to carbs and fats. It uses up more energy just by digesting it, helping you burn more calories. And because it takes longer to digest, you feel fuller for longer, which helps avoid cravings.

Examples of good protein source are fish, chicken breast, lean beef, pork loin, egg, greek yogurt, tofu, nuts, seeds, beans, peas and lentils.

Remember, though, that you should not eat too much protein in addition to your carbs and fats. Anything in excess will still be stored in the body as fat. Instead, you can swap your additional protein with some of your fats and sugars. Having 25-50 g of protein in most of your meals would be ideal.

3. Eat more fiber.

Fiber has a similar effect as protein: fiber prolongs your feeling of fullness after meals, reduces your feeling of hunger and appetite, and reduces your total calorie intake.

Notice, for example, that when you eat high-fiber unrefined whole grains for breakfast such as muesli, you feel full for longer.

That’s because fiber also takes longer to digest. It stays in your stomach longer. It absorbs water, providing bulk.

When you increase the portion of fruits and vegetables within your meal, the portion size will be the same but the calorie count will be lower, as well.

Fiber has many other benefits aside from supporting weight loss. It improves bowel movement and it also feeds your gut microbiome, which has diverse benefits to your health.

4. Choose low GI and low GL carbs.

The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks the carbohydrates in your food based on how quickly it affects your blood sugar. If it raises your blood sugar quickly, it’s considered high-GI (GI of 70+). If it raises your blood sugar slowly, it’s low-GI (GI of 55 or less). You can check the GI of your favorite foods in glycemicindex.com.

Examples of low-GI foods are:

  • vegetables
  • pulses (beans, peas, lentils)
  • whole grains (such as oats, muesli and quinoa)

Because low-GI foods raise your blood sugar slowly, your insulin will also be released slowly. Insulin is the hormone released by your pancreas to push blood sugar into your cells.

Low-GI foods help you avoid drastic changes in the levels of your blood sugar and insulin. The result is that you have prolonged energy and you don’t starve and crave shortly after eating. For this reason, low-GI foods are also called “good carbs”.

The opposite is true with high-GI foods, such as:

  • refined sugars, sugary foods and drinks
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • potatoes

High-GI carbs raise blood sugar quickly. Insulin is released to compensate for this. This leads to feeling hungry shortly after a meal.

Constant drastic changes in your blood sugar and insulin can eventually lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

Glycemic Index (GI) has some limitations mainly due to its changeability depending on how ripe the fruit is, how the food is prepared, and what other foods are eaten with it. It also does not reflect the level of vitamins and minerals the food has.

For example, chocolate cake with frosting has low GI (38) but it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy food. Watermelon has a GI of 72, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad carbs. GI also does not reflect the amount of calories in the portion size.

These limitations have been addressed by Glycemic Load (GL), which helps you check the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates you eat. GL less than 10 is low, and more than 20 is high.

You can see the GI and GL values in the International Table of Glycemic Index and Load. Don’t worry if you eat high-GI from time to time. Just eat it or offset it with more nutritious low-GI and low-GL foods.

I’ve seen many studies studies that prove the ability of low-GI low-GL to support permanent weight loss as well as overall good health. However, there are also studies saying that the effect of low GI and GL on weight loss has been inconsistent. Check out this meta-analysis, for example.

Nevertheless, low-GI and low-GI particularly works for me and for many people and I recommend it to you, as well. I believe it can help you lose weight if you stick to it and if you are more conscious of your other eating habits, as well.

5. Eat because you are hungry, and stop eating when you’re just full.

Eat because you are hungry and not because it’s out of habit. Before you eat your meals, dessert and snacks, always pause for a minute to ask your self if you are hungry.

If you are, then it’s okay to eat. If you are not hungry, food is not necessary. Food that your body does not need gets converted into fat, leading to weight gain. Do not feel obliged to finish everything on your plate once you are feeling just full.

When tempted to eat when you’re not hungry or to finish everything on your plate even when you’re full, ask yourself the magic question: “Where do I want this excess food to go: to the bin or stored in my body as fat?” That question has been consistently helping me to control my eating. I hope it will help you, too.

Don’t wait for you to feel very full before you stop eating. Stop eating when you’re just starting to feel full. That way, you’ll feel hungry just in time for your next meal, which you’ll enjoy more because you’d be hungry.

Move away from the food, distract yourself and do something else to keep you busy if you find it hard to resist the temptation.

6. Eat smaller portions.

Reducing your portion size will reduce your overall calorie intake. Here are some tips for you to eat smaller portions:

Use a smaller plate. This produces an illusion that you have “plenty” of food on your plate if it somehow fills your smaller plate.

Remember what you ate in your last meal. This can help you decide to eat less for dinner if you remember what you had for lunch.

If you are still hungry after your main meal, you can have dessert but it would be better if you choose the healthier alternative such as fruit and yogurt, or something that is not as calorie-dense.

If you’ve been planning to have dessert, adjust the size of your main course.

If you’re really just craving for dessert, consider having a dessert-only meal.

Buy food in smaller-sized packages.

7. Eat slower.

If you eat slower, you give your body more time to digest the food and build up your feeling of fullness. It also increases the hormones in your digestive system which are responsible for detecting fullness.

Here are some tips on how you can eat slower:

  • Chew your food longer than you usually do. Chew soft food 5-10 times, and chew harder food up to 32 times before swallowing. I’ve recently counted the number of times I chew my harder food, it actually ranged between 30 and 35. How about you?
  • Put down your utensils while chewing.
  • Use your non-dominant hand.
  • Use a smaller spoon and fork.
  • Use chopsticks if you are not a regular chopsticks user. Have fun!

8. Eat mindfully.

If you are paying attention to what you are eating, you will experience more pleasure from it, it will satisfy your appetite more, and you will stop eating when your appetite is satisfied. Being mindful will also enable you to notice if you are starting to feel full.

Here are some tips on how you can be more mindful when you are eating:

  • Feel the pleasure of your food: how it smells, tastes, and feels in in your mouth
  • Use a heavy plate, heavy cutlery and a heavy glass as they heighten the pleasure of eating.
  • Sit down on the dining table for your meals.
  • Avoid eating on the go while standing up or walking.
  • Avoid watching TV.
  • Avoid browsing your phone.

When you are watching TV or when you’re browsing on your phone while eating, your brain is distracted, and so it is not able to accurately tell that you’ve had enough to eat. This can lead to overeating.

9. Use menthol mouthwash or brush your teeth after meals.

Menthol mouthwash reduces craving, appetite and hunger after meals, which means it can help you avoid snacking in between meals or just before bedtime.

Look for an alcohol-free mouthwash so you don’t kill the good bacteria in your mouth, which you need in promoting oral health.

10. Don’t buy calorie-dense snacks.

Do you eat snacks even if you’re not hungry, just because you have them in your house? Do you find yourself rummaging through your stash of snacks if you’re bored or stressed or angry?

If you don’t have the snacks in the house, you won’t be tempted to eat them. Don’t buy them. It’s a matter of resisting it once at the supermarket, or resisting it constantly if it’s in your house.

(Actually, my husband used to say that to me a lot, because I looooooove snacking. I didn’t listen to him at first, which led to more snacking and weight gain. But when I finally stopped buying my favorite snacks, I stopped snacking, as well! It’s a miracle!)

I’m not saying that you should never snack. You can, just make sure you don’t go over your calorie requirement because of them.

If having them in your house makes you go over your calorie requirement regularly, then it’s worth not having them in your house at all.

However, eating snacks does not necessarily mean it will make you gain weight. If you are hungry, it means you need food, but choose your snacks wisely, considering their calories so you can stay within your target.

Consider snacking on healthier options such as boiled egg or carrot, bell pepper and cucumber slices with hummus or nut butter without added sugar.

If you’re on the go, have a packet of nuts and seeds or fruit with you.

If you particularly love chocolate and won’t have no as an answer, have a small portion of 90%-100% dark chocolate.

11. Don’t go to the supermarket when you’re hungry.

Your senses can wreak havoc on your appetite when you go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Trust me, I’ve been there many times.

Supermarkets release a distinct aroma of fresh bread which stimulates the appetite, making you more likely to buy extra food. The drinks and food will also look more visually appealing when you are hungry.

Do you remember how much you bought at the supermarket the last time you went there hungry?

12. Eat your meals within a 12-hour period.

Without food intake for several hours, your liver releases enzymes that break down your stored fat and cholesterol, which means that your liver is helping you burn fat. This also improves blood sugar control and appetite signalling.

Some people can go for several hours or days without food (fasting) and they report several health benefits with it. However, long periods of fasting can be problematic for some and impossible for many.

12 hours without food (micro-fasting) is manageable for most of us. If you finish your dinner at 7 pm, start your breakfast at 7 am. Outside your 12-hour eating window, you can have water and tea, but move away from caffeine at night.

This would also help you control your late-night snacking.

If skipping breakfast works for you, skip it, just make sure that you are not binge-eating at lunch and dinner. Skipping meals does not guarantee weight loss if you are eating excessive calories in your other meals.

Choose At Least One Simple Habit You Can Start Now

My goal is to inspire you to develop simple health habits one at a time. You’ll be surprised to see how your new habit will eventually make you feel better about your health and about yourself.

Your habits also have a compounding effect, and they’ll lead you to the kind of health and the kind of life that you’ll have 20, 30, 50 years from now. It would be great if you work towards the kind of health you want to enjoy in your retirement years.

Which one of these would you like to start with today?

  1. Track your calories.
  2. Eat more protein.
  3. Eat more fiber.
  4. Choose low-GI and low-GL carbs.
  5. Eat because you are hungry, and stop eating when you are just full.
  6. Eat smaller portions.
  7. Eat slower.
  8. Eat mindfully.
  9. Use menthol mouthwash or brush your teeth after meals.
  10. Don’t buy unhealthy, calorie-dense snacks.
  11. Don’t go to the supermarket when you’re hungry.
  12. Eat your  meals within a 12-hour period.

Which new habit did you choose? Please let me know by commenting below. I’d also love to know your thoughts after reading my article.


“Nutrition: Maintaining and Improving Health” 5e by Geoffrey P. Webb (2020)

“Eat What You Like & Lose Weight For Life” by Grame Tomlinson (2020)

“Not A Diet Book: Lose Fat. Gain Confidence. Transform Your Life” by James Smith (2020)

“The 4 Pillar Plan” by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee (2018)

“The Energy Plan” by James Collins (2019)

“How To Retrain Your Appetite” by Dr. Hellen McCarthy (2019)




Why follow a Low GI Diet?

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