How to Get Healthy Without Dieting

Is it possible to get healthy or lose weight without dieting? We're firmly in the pro-healthy-living but anti-diet camp over here, so if there's a way to drop unhealthy extra pounds (stress on unhealthy — your bod is probably pretty great as it is) or get healthy without resorting to diets, I'm all ears. The word "diet" has been getting a bad reputation the past few years, and for good reason: Research shows that crash diets, generally defined as eating under 1200 calories a day, are not successful in the long run, and in fact may be detrimental to your health. So how to get healthy? Huge changes to an unhealthy lifestyle can be a daunting prospect, making it difficult to start losing excess weight. Fortunately, Quartz reports that new research from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University shows that even just one small lifestyle change can trigger a chain reaction of sorts — small changes lead to small amounts of weight loss, which leads to other small changes, with an overall effect of more weight loss over time.

According to Dr. Brian Wansink, the lead researcher and author of Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, in an interview with Quartz, this model of weight loss is supposed to be so easy you don't even think about it; after "one small change, you're done," as opposed to the constant battle against cravings caused by many diets.

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So what are the most helpful changes to make? Wansink's interview gives four as a starting point:

1) If you're going to keep food on the counter, make it fruit. According to Wansink, women who kept cereal on the counter weighed an average of 21 lbs. more than those who didn't.

2) Order smaller portions at restaurants, and use the "Rule of Two." Get a half-size portion if you can, and choose two items to go with it, like just one drink and appetizer (instead of drinks, an appetizer, and dessert).

3) Chew gum. People who chewed gum while shopping bought seven percent less junk food.

4) Don't eat while you're working. It's easy to snack while you're focused on work, and you won't notice how much you've eaten until it's too late.Completely overhauling a lifestyle may be intimidating at first glance, but the health benefits beyond just weight loss are too important to ignore. Gradual weight loss for those carrying unhealthy extra weight is also associated with better maintenance of that loss over the next few years. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise in addition to watching what you eat, of course, but by tackling it one step at a time, you might lose weight without even realizing it.Image: Getty