Essential core principles of the EatingWell Diet
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The EatingWell Diet is a comprehensive plan designed to help you lose weight safely and permanently. At the core of the plan are seven essential steps-each the result of cutting-edge research, put into practice in real people's lives. They'll work for you too!

Step 1. Make Sure You're Ready for Change

Of course you want to lose weight-that's why you are reading this-but in order to make a life plan you can stick with, you must be ready-truly ready-to make the commitment. Losing weight takes some time and effort. The first step is to make sure you're ready to get started.

So, how do you know if you're ready to lose weight?

Take a moment to assess what you'll gain by losing weight and the sacrifices you'll need to make. Weigh the balance to make sure you're ready to commit before you start.

This Pluses & Minuses checklist (click to download pdf) will help you get started.

Ready-for-Change Checklist


What will you gain by losing?


What will you sacrifice?


Step 2. Set Goals

The next step on your weight-loss journey is to decide what kind of weight loss makes sense for you. Weigh in, assess your eating habits and make a game plan. That will include long-term goals and more immediate goals too.

The next step on your weight-loss journey is to decide what kind of weight loss makes sense for you. Sketch out a long-term goal, based on a healthy weight range (you can calculate your BMI here). Next, calculate your current calorie needs, or weight-maintenance number, then subtract 500 or 1,000 calories each day to determine your daily calorie goal.

You'll get the most out of your goals if they are realistic, specific and measurable. Reward yourself when you achieve them. Revise your goals regularly to keep yourself challenged.

Calculate Your Calorie Goal

YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT X 12 = calories needed to maintain your weight To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day

Step 3. Track Yourself

Self-awareness is self-motivation: by keeping track of your behavior, you motivate yourself to change because you become more accountable. Track yourself with a food diary and exercise log-some of the most powerful tools for managing your weight.

Self-awareness is self-motivation; by keeping track of your behavior, you motivate yourself to change by becoming more accountable. Create a weight tracker to stay on top of your progress and keep yourself motivated. Our Weight Tracker Chart (click to download pdf) will help you put your progress in perspective. Keep a food diary to record the foods you eat each day-this self-awareness will help you eat less. Our Food Diary (click to download pdf) will help you track your daily intake to see if you are achieving your goals. Start an Activity Log (click to download pdf) to help you make a conscious effort to build more activity into your days. Give yourself credit for being active, and each activity adds up!

Weigh yourself right

Since your weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day, it's not important to weigh yourself daily-but some people find it easier to remember that way. Try to do it at the same time of day, with the same amount of clothing. Make sure your scale is calibrated (reads "0" when no one stands on it) and is on a completely flat surface.

Do I have to write everything down?

Yes, keeping a food diary takes time, especially when you're learning the ropes. But it really works: studies show that people who keep food diaries tend to lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who don't. We consider a food diary essential to the EatingWell Diet. If you're balking, you're probably someone who will benefit most from this kind of approach. It might be the first time you've stepped back to look at your daily eating behavior. You might be amazed at what it shows you about yourself! Diary keeping gets easier over time as it becomes instinctive.

Keep a diary

List what you eat and how much. Be specific. Write it right after you eat (or you will forget). Record calories and keep a running tally.

Step 4. Eat Mindfully

Healthy eating means getting a variety of foods in moderation-not making any food forbidden, but not going overboard on those rich foods that were once special-occasion indulgences. Eat mindfully by knowing the foods that make weight loss easier, and understanding key healthy-eating principles.

Want an easy way to eat? Just divide your plate into three sections: 1/2 = vegetables,1/4 = whole grains and 1/4 = lean protein. Try to make most of your meals (lunch and dinner, anyway), follow that pattern, and you'll be eating healthier and leaner.

Eat just enough

As you eat, evaluate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being "ravenous" and 5 being "stuffed." Aim to stop eating when you've reached 3 or 4.

Step 5. Commit to Move More

Exercise makes weight loss much easier-but more importantly people who move more are more likely to keep the pounds off. No matter where you're at now, you can become "an exercise person." It's all good: lifestyle exercise vs. programmed exercise. These two types of activity help you burn calories. While it's important to get as much as you can in both categories, focus on making room for programmed activity daily. That way it will become a habit more easily.

What about strength training? These types of exercises involve using your muscles to push or pull weight. They help you rev up your metabolism and produce satisfying results pretty quickly. You don't need to be a body-builder either to reap the benefits.

Calorie Burning Rules of Thumb (not exact, but easy to remember):

* Walking or running one mile is equal to 100 calories burned. * Riding a bike for the same amount of time it takes you to walk one mile burns about 100 calories.

Can I eat more if I exercise more?

It's motivating to know how many calories exercise burns off-but try not to think of exercise calories and food calories as trade-off items. Doing this can lead to some pretty silly bargaining, such as: "If I run 3 miles, I can eat another doughnut." Besides, most of us underestimate how many calories we eat. Think of daily exercise as a way to compensate for those overlooked calories.

Step 6. Get Support

Losing weight is challenging-we can't expect to do it alone. As you make your way through losing weight, you'll need to cultivate a network of friends, family, coworkers, professionals and like-minded people.

Know your saboteurs.

Some people, unintentionally or otherwise, might try to derail your weight loss plans-like the spouse who buys your favorite flavor of ice cream. Many times these so-called diet "saboteurs" really don't mean harm, but some truly might not want you to lose weight.

How to face saboteurs

Don't wait to take action: talk about it. Let your suspected saboteurs know how their actions affect you. Chances are they're clueless. Talk it over and work out a solution you can each live with. But if you find your loved one isn't truly behind you, look elsewhere for support.

Find a cheerleader

List at least 2 or 3 people you can call on when you need:


Encouragement when you're frustrated or tempted, companions for celebrating success.


Exercise buddies, healthy-food shopping companions, child-care or housekeeping help.

Support yourself

How do you encourage yourself toward your goals? Are you a "cheerleader" who treats yourself with love and kindness, cheering victories, forgiving slip-ups-or a "bad coach" who prods with negative thoughts and berates you if you don't perform perfectly? Your internal thoughts can have a huge impact on your progress. Without the support of your most important champion-yourself-it's easy to feel demoralized and give up. Think of how you might offer positive words of encouragement to someone else, then use the same language on yourself. It works!

Step 7. Have a Long-Term Plan

As you reach your weight-loss goals, you're ready for the final step: creating a long-term strategy that will help your successes stick. You've come a long way-but know that you will have lapses. Everyone does! The key is to get back on track quickly, and move on. Learn to recognize the lapse-relapse-collapse cycle-and nip a lapse in the bud before it derails your weight-loss plans.

How To Stop A Binge:

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

1) Am I truly hungry? If you're not, wait 20 minutes and ask yourself again.

2) Has it been more than 3 hours since I last ate? (If not, it's probably emotional, not physical hunger)

3) Can a small snack, like a handful of grapes and a few peanuts, tide me over until the next meal?

The EatingWell Diet. Copyright 2007 by Eating Well, Inc. Published by The Countryman Press, P.O. Box 748, Woodstock, VT 05091. It is prohibited to copy, redistribute or transmit this work for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher.

The EatingWell Diet (2007)