How to lose weight without dieting

When it comes to dieting, Dr. Ayanna Buckner says, many of us don't have the best track record.

"Most people will start a diet for a short time period, whether it's a goal to fit into a dress for a wedding, or to look good for a high school reunion," Dr. Buckner says. "But, once that's over, they go back to eating the same junk that they did before."

So, Buckner, Chair of the Metro Atlanta Heart Association Health Equity Committee, says instead of focusing on the foods you can't have, focus on everything you can have.

First, she says, fill your shopping cart with fruit and vegetables, the more color the better.

"You should think about making half of your plate colorful with fruits or vegetables," Dr. Buckner says. "So, whatever fruits and vegetables you like, start with those, and then, expand from there."

The American Heart Association recommends loading up on foods like whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fish or plant-based proteins. If you like meat, go for lean meats, removing the skin.
At the top of the list of foods to limit are sugary drinks. 

"I like to tell people I prefer to eat my calories than drink them," Buckner says.

Cut back on salty foods, processed snacks and meats, full-fat dairy, and commercially-baked goodies, the Heart Association recommends.

The list of foods to avoid is shorter:  avoid snack food and junk food partially-hydrogenated or trans fats.
Also, Dr. Buckner says, watch your drive-thru dining.

"If you've got to eat fast food, looking at some of the more healthful places," Dr. Buckner says. "But, also, thinking ahead of time.  If you're busy at work, or running around with the kids, thinking ahead of time about where you can get healthful foods.

And when you want to splurge, she says, do it. Don't beat yourself up on cheating.

"I call it a treat day, not a cheat day," Dr. Buckner says. "Because, just as I don't like the word diet, I don't like the word cheat. It's okay to schedule days where you can have your favorite things."