There are people out there who seem to look and feel good effortlessly. If you’ve ever wondered what their secrets are, a new study from Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab may have uncovered a couple of clues.
“Most slim people don’t employ restrictive diets or intense health regimes to stay at a healthy weight,” Dr. Brian Wansink, the study’s co-author, said in a statement. “Instead, they practice easy habits like not skipping breakfast, and listening to inner cues.”
It appears maintaining simple, healthy routines may be one overarching rule to easily maintaining good health. Researchers analyzed the habits of 147 adults who participated in an online Global Healthy Weight Registry, a database in which registered users respond to questions about exercise, diet and daily lifestyle habits.
The participants’ responses highlighted one major takeaway for healthy living: Routine is key. For many, routines are a necessity to success. When healthy habits are built-in to a person’s schedule, they become second nature, and feel less-chore like.
While adding new habits to your lifestyle won’t exactly feel natural or necessarily simple at first, the more you continue to include them, the easier they’ll be able to do. Here are five simple and healthy habits thin people enforce in their daily routines:
1. They eat breakfast.
A whopping 96 percent of study participants reported eating breakfast nearly every day. While it’s up for debate whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there’s no denying it’s significant. Research finds that those who forgo a morning meal tend to consume more calories at lunchtime.
Skipping breakfast is also associated with increased weight and increased weight gain over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that pushing past those scrambled eggs causes people to gain; eating breakfast could, instead, really be a sign of living healthfully. It’s routine, people.
2. They exercise.
Forty-two percent of study participants reported exercising five or more times a week. Exercise does so much for our bodies and brains, including reducing stress and depression symptoms as well as the risk of diabetes and a host of other conditions. One more really cool side effect of habitual exercise is that it’ll make you crave a healthier diet. That’s a win-win for weight loss. The endorphin rush you get from a sprint around the neighborhood might help you resist temptation, whether that’s alcohol or a big slice of chocolate cake.
3. They have a scale.
The people of the slim group check in with themselves, including the use of weekly weigh-ins: About 50 percent said they weighed themselves at least once a week. New research finds that weighing yourself daily is a good practice for losing weight and maintaining a healthy size.
“Stepping on the scales should be like brushing your teeth,” David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, told USA Today.
While the number on a scale is only one measure, it can be indicative of progress toward a healthier lifestyle. That said, weighing habits can be problematic for certain individuals. For some, what they see on the scale can trigger feelings of depression and stress and even counterproductive behavior like emotional eating. The feeling of defeat when reading a number may also override successes. If you sense that the scale does you more harm than good, trust your gut and skip this tip.
4. They don’t restrict what they eat
According to the research, 44 percent of participants reported at least one “non-restrictive strategy” to their eating, such as listening to inner cues, eating high-quality and low-processed foods and cooking at home. All three of these practices are proven to lead to healthier lives. If you’re on the job and hungry after lunch, consider cutting out vending machine snacks for more nutritious ones you bring from home. Eating at home is a smart way to cut calories and spending. Check out some healthy and simple recipes to start with here.
5. They eat mindfully
People who look and feel good generally don’t put themselves on restrictive diets. Instead, they think about what they’re putting in their bodies. While 74 percent said they never or rarely diet, 92 percent reported being conscious of what they ate. This number suggests that effortlessly slim people don’t engage in mindless eating — eating out of boredom or with a purpose beyond addressing hunger.
So there you have it. As it seems, naturally thin people are naturally thin in part because they don’t make thinness their main priority. They take a “be” not “do” approach, incorporating healthy habits into their routines on the regular. If you want to follow suit, a lifestyle shift may be in order.