10 Ways to Lose 5 Pounds

Want to lose 5 pounds? It's simple: Eat less, move more. Easier said than done, right? We've asked experts to share some smart, doable ideas about how to lose those first few pounds and stay on track for a healthier you.
  • Tips for Losing Weight

    There is no one right way to lose weight. So much depends on finding out what works for you. But there is widespread agreement among experts that dropping a few pounds -- and keeping them off -- can have tremendous benefits for people living with diabetes (PWDs). While it can't reverse the disease, maintaining a healthy weight can help slow its progression and delay the need for medication, says Hope Warshaw, R.D., CDE, coauthor of The Real-Life Guide to Diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2009) and contributing editor to Diabetic Living magazine.

    Weight loss can be more challenging for PWDs due to insulin resistance. The body fights even harder than usual to hold on to the pounds. Here are some tips to help you shed just 5 pounds -- a good first step to a healthier you.

  • Control Portion Sizes

    It's not practical or realistic to weigh and measure everything you eat. So pick one day a week to pull out the scale and measuring cups and spoons to see if you're getting the proper portions.

    "Our eyes grow with time," says diabetes educator Hope Warshaw. "It's easy to rationalize: But it's just a little more." To fine-tune your skills to eat proper portions, keep essential weighing and measuring tools on the countertop -- a food scale that accurately weighs meats, fruits, and starches; measuring cups for starches, vegetables, and dairy items; and measuring spoons for fats, oils, salad dressings, and more.

    Check out our visual guide to serving sizes.

  • Trim Fat

    Fats are the most concentrated sources of calories; find ways to cut just a little and the payoff can be big. For instance, instead of 2 tablespoons of regular salad dressing, use 1 tablespoon and dilute it with balsamic vinegar. That one move can cut 90 calories.

    "It's not about a diet, it's about a tweak here or a tweak there," says diabetes educator Hope Warshaw.

    Try these gotta-have low-fat recipes.

  • Distance Yourself from Tempting Foods

    If there are foods you just can't stay away from -- chips, ice cream, cookies -- keep them out of your kitchen. If tempting foods are already in the cupboard, fridge, or freezer, toss them.

    And don't use your spouse or kids as an excuse for keeping problem foods on hand. Help the whole family eat healthy. If someone else does the shopping, be sure to pass along the ban on tempting foods. "A lot of grandmas rationalize having candy and cookies around the house for their grandchildren," says diabetes educator Hope Warshaw. "Is that really what you want to feed them?" Challenge some of those preconceived notions and encourage grandma to go healthy, too.

    Check out the top 5 foods to avoid with diabetes.

  • Make Smart Choices at Restaurants

    When you go to a restaurant, make smart choices so you don't overeat, says Jeff Mechanick, M.D., FACP, FACE, FACN, clinical professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

    Consider splitting large entrees or putting half in a to-go box right away. "Get a double portion of salad; order broiled, grilled, or baked fish; and make sure there is no bread at the table," Mechanick says. Take advantage of healthy menu choices or ask the chef to prepare a low-fat version of an item.

    Stay motivated with our top 12 weight loss tips.

  • Embrace Fruits and Veggies

    Enjoy a healthy, plant-based diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables packed with fiber. Professor Jeff Mechanick tells his patients with diabetes to push beyond the recommended 5-7 servings a day and try for 7-10. "You can have unlimited amounts of these foods -- salad, raw vegetables -- there is no upper limit," Mechanick says.

    Try the plate method when serving your meals. Fill half of your plate with fruits and nonstarchy vegetables. One remaining quarter is for a starch, such as rice, and the other quarter is for meat. "This reinforces the concept of meat as a side dish," says diabetes educator Hope Warshaw.

    For dessert, eat fruit rather than cake or pie. "It's a great way to end a meal," says Marisa Moore, R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and a nutritionist in Atlanta. "Fruit often does the trick, and you'll be surprised at how many calories you'll save and still have a sweet ending to a meal."

    Try these 8 easy ways to eat more veggies.

  • Downsize Your Dinnerware

    The more food you put in front of you, the more you're likely to eat, according to research by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., professor of marketing at Cornell University and director of the school's Food and Brand Lab. So serve meals on small dinner plates (7-inch diameter) and use tall, narrow 4-ounce glasses for juice and other caloric drinks. Your brain will reset its expectations of a normal portion size, and you'll find yourself feeling satisfied with less food.

  • Don't Let Yourself Get Too Hungry

    "Don't skip meals," says nutritionist Marisa Moore. "Be sure you eat regularly to avoid major blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to a ravenous attack on the refrigerator."

    Be prepared with snacks when you're on the go. Carry a piece of fruit, crackers, string cheese, or yogurt. Tucking away something ahead of time will keep you from being tempted by fast food or vending machines.

    Try the top 20 power foods for diabetes.

  • Move Throughout the Day

    Along with modified eating, incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. Move throughout the day. Stretch while you make breakfast. Take the stairs at the office. Go for a stroll during your lunch break. It's a myth that you need to sit to digest your food, says professor Jeff Mechanick.

    You should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines. Many adults need up to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days to prevent unhealthy weight gain. Those who have lost weight may need 60-90 minutes of daily activity to avoid regaining the weight.

    Get fit with these simple moves.

  • Track Your Progress

    It's a proven fact that keeping a food diary is an effective way to eat healthier. If you have to write down what you eat before you eat it, you're more inclined to make good choices. "It's a great way to identify triggers or patterns in your eating behavior that you want to get rid of," says nutritionist Marisa Moore. Use a memo pad, online food journal, even your cell phone -- whatever works for you. "When you realize you have to write it down, you aren't as likely to eat unhealthy foods," she says. Journaling makes you feel accountable for what you're eating.

    What's for dinner? Enjoy our best diabetes menus.

  • Fill Up with Fiber

    Make sure your diet includes plenty of oats, oatmeal, and beans -- all great sources of fiber, says nutritionist Marisa Moore. "Fiber will make you feel full longer and lower your cholesterol."

    Aim for 30-35 grams of fiber each day -- two-thirds from soluble fiber and one-third from insoluble fiber, says professor Jeff Mechanick. Soluble fiber is in oat bran, nuts, carrots, and oranges. Insoluble fiber is in dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, wheat, and corn bran. Instead of high-calorie foods loaded with sugar and refined starches, shift to lower-calorie foods with more fiber. Whole foods and whole grains are better than processed.

    Enjoy these tasty whole grain recipes.

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