5 Steps to Lose Weight the Healthy Way

‘Wait 15 minutes before going for seconds.’

Losing weight is never easy. These tips from dietician Megan Marshall will help you to eat well while still making sure you get the correct nutrients in.

1. Have breakfast

‘Eat your breakfast’ your mom might have nagged! If it wasn’t her voice then it was someone else’s but we have, without a doubt, all heard this one before! You might not agree with her on everything but this is actually one area where she was right.

An abundance of studies has shown that people who eat breakfast have a more balanced diet than those who skip it. They are less likely to be overweight and are able to lose weight more successfully. Studies also show a reduced risk of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in breakfast eaters.


How does eating breakfast help? Well, missing breakfast may increase feelings of hunger later on in the day, resulting in snacking on less healthy foods without necessarily catching up on essential nutrients. Skipping breakfast often leads to blowing out on portions for lunch and dinner because you are so hungry. It may also help to improve mental performance, concentration and mood – three more good reasons to eat something in the morning.

Give it a go: If you aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, try to eat within 2-3 hours of waking up and choose a breakfast containing three of the four main food groups on a regular basis:

  1. Starchy foods,
  2. Fruit and vegetables,
  3. Milk and dairy foods,
  4. Meat, fish, eggs and non-dairy sources of protein.

If you are in a hurry then grab a fruit on the way out and pack a wholegrain sandwich for when you get to the office. Alternatively, leave some instant oats or whole-grain cereal at the office.

So let’s start today, and each day this week, with a healthy breakfast.

2. Tick tock…. wait 15 minutes before going for seconds.

It takes time for your brain to know your stomach is full so wait for at least fifteen to twenty minutes before deciding you need more food.

The feeling of satiety occurs due to a number of bodily signals that begin when a food or drink is consumed. The feeling continues as the food enters the gut, is digested and absorbed. These satiety signals, which feed into specific areas of the brain, are generated in response to a number of factors. Such as how filling we believe the food is, the expansion of the stomach and the hormones released during the digestion and absorption of the food. It takes time for the full range of satiety signals to reach the brain… about 15 minutes!


We have nothing against second helpings, if you are truly hungry you should eat something but have a good honesty session with yourself before dishing up those seconds. Are you really still hungry? Our guess is that after 15 minutes you’ll be over it and tadaah! You’ve saved yourself from an unnecessary 500 calories, feelings of guilt and a big food baby!

3. Dish up a good portion.

You are eating all the ‘right’ foods and a piece of chocolate hasn’t touched your lips in months. So why are the hips not getting smaller? Firstly, well done on improving the quality of your diet. BUT… for weight loss, quantity is important too. Even seemingly healthy, low-calorie foods will lead to weight gain if they are eaten in the wrong portions. Some smoothies pack away more calories than a Big Mac!


Most people choose portion sizes that are familiar, not scientific and will eat more at a sitting when presented with larger portions than when presented with smaller portions, however, they will still feel equally satisfied by the end of the meal. The trick seems to be to eat until satisfied and then stop but that innate sense of satiety that we are born with is most often overridden by the time we are adults.

Try this trick to guide portion sizes:

  1. When looking at your plate, starchy foods such as rice, pasta, potato, butternut and sweetcorn should be the size of your fist.
  2. Meat and meat alternatives should be the size of your palm.
  3. Vegetables should be the size of two fists.
  4. If you add any fats to your meal, like super-healthy olive oil, keep it to the size of your thumbnail.

4. Eat at the table

Avoid eating at the same time as doing something else, for example when working, reading or watching TV, as this can cause you to overeat.


This comes down to allowing those satiety hormones to kick in and stop you eating more than you need to. If you are distracted when eating, it takes longer for these hormones to kick in. It doesn’t take long to eat a meal so step away from your desk or the TV for 10 – 20 minutes if that’s all you can spare and enjoy your food.

5. Go ahead…reward yourself!

You have done well and it’s time to reward yourself! Margarita, a slab of chocolate, dinner date? Let’s rethink that one for a moment…


When food is given as a reward, you start to connect it with something good or bad, rather than to see food as fuel for your body. In the long run, this could lead to emotional eating in adults and generate an unhealthy relationship with food. Food rewards lead to poor nutrient intakes, eating when not hungry and excess calories.

Here are some ideas for non-food rewards

  • Professional make up lesson
  • Manicure
  • Home facial
  • Spa day
  • Treat yourself to the latest edition of COSMO

Megan Marshall is a registered dietician who practices at The Atrium Lifestyle Centre and Teeni Tummies in KZN.

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