While it might seem like some people maintain their weight effortlessly compared to others, there are many well-researched habits that lean people tend to share. Focusing on the “big rocks” of nutrition is going to get you there a lot more sustainably than focusing on quick fixes or fad diets.
With that said, there is not a “get lean quick” fast-track to success. A lean body for life takes time, and there are certain habits that take time and energy to practice before they become part of your lifestyle. But taking the time to work on them pays off in the long run!
So what are the nutrition habits that lean people do to maintain their physical health easily over time?
Lean people don’t skip meals or severely restrict themselves. They realize that too much restriction results in overcompensating later.
“When we eat regularly, we give our bodies a steady stream of fuel,” says Bess Berger, RDN. “When we skip meals, we’re more likely to show up to the next meal too hungry. Then, it’s that much harder to moderate portions or eat mindfully—making staying lean more of a challenge.”
If you find yourself overdoing it at night, you might need to bump up your nutrition game earlier in the day!
Instead of restriction, lean folks eat their meals mindfully! They engage their senses while eating without distractions.
When you eat mindfully, you are much more able to focus on not eating past fullness. This helps prevent overeating, consuming too many calories, and boredom eating habits!
Jana Mowrer, MPH, RDN, CDCES, NBC-HWC states that mindful eating can prevent moments of feeling “starving” and/or “stuffed.”
“With mindfulness, the eating experience becomes more neutral and less charged to help you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy relationship with food,” she says.
If you have a hard time staying present while eating, start by turning off the TV and putting your phone down. It will feel foreign at first, but you’ll get better with practice.
Lean people understand that balanced meals keep them more full and satisfied for longer. A balanced meal consists of a combo of all three macronutrients and a variety of food groups: protein, carbs, and fats.
“Balanced meals promote leanness over time because they keep calories under control,” says Jinan Banna, PhD, RD. “A balanced meal will contain fruits and vegetables, which are rich in fiber and relatively low in calories to help you feel full while maintaining a healthy weight.”
To incorporate balance, you might ask yourself questions like “what can I add to this meal to make it more filling, nutritious, or satisfying for me?”
What you do 80% of the time is more important than the other 20% of the time. Lean folks spend their time focused on the “big rocks” the majority of the time so that they don’t sweat the small stuff.
Small moments of indulgences are meant to be enjoyed and savored, and then it’s time to move on! In fact, indulging in your favorite fun food now might even prevent you from craving it and overindulging later.
Lean people don’t use food to cope with their negative emotions. If you feel like you eat often, even when you are not hungry, then you might be an emotional eater. Having an emotional coping skills “toolbox” that helps address your stress and challenging emotions instead of turning to food is the first step to overcoming emotional eating.
If you are seeking Ways to Quit Emotional Eating for Good, we’ve got you covered.