Quick and easy tips to reach your healthy weight

I must confess I have never been much of a meal planner - which seems funny to admit because in all other aspects of my life I am extremely well organized! Mealtimes always seemed a chore, and because I have suffered from various forms of disordered eating most of my life, thinking about what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat was always very stressful.

So I became quite lazy when it came to meal planning. I used to think it was better to wait until I was ready to eat to see what I "felt like" eating at the time. Unfortunately, when that time came, I was completely starving and reaching for whatever was fast and readily available - usually something to satisfy my sweet tooth like a chocolate bar or my favorite caramel slice, or something salty like corn chips or handful after handful of salted almonds. This would satisfy me for an hour or so, then I would become hungry again. And so the cycle would continue until bedtime. I became a grazer - picking at food every couple of hours without ever planning ahead or consciously stopping to think about what my body actually needed.

After years of this unhealthy relationship with food, I finally figured out that I need to eat mindfully to be able to eat healthily. I need to plan my meals in advance and then make time to sit still and eat slowly and consciously. This has enabled me to finally be able to maintain a healthy body weight for my size and build - eating more than ever!

Here are five simple ways I have found effective to lose weight healthily and keep it off in the long run:

1. Be organized and plan your meals in advance. While this does take some effort, it is well worth the time investment! This really helps you stick to your weight loss goals. Post a meal planner on your fridge listing everything you are going to eat for that week, and try to make some of your meals ahead of time.

2. Plan your snacks. Snacks can be sneaky! You may be eating really well but doing a lot of snacking in between meals, which can add up to lots of extra unwanted calories. Plan some simple snacks such as vegetables with hummus, and have all the veggies you love cut up and ready to go in the fridge.

3. Eat mindfully. Actually sit down to eat each meal. I have been so guilty of eating standing up in the past! I would hover over a bowl of something in the kitchen, checking my email at the same time and being completely unaware of what I was stuffing in my mouth! Chew eat bite slowly and put your knife and fork down between bites. Don't rush.

4. Say a blessing over your food. I find this really works to calm me down before eating, and I eat more slowly. When I do this I tend to be more present during the meal, and when I savor each bite, I can sense more easily when I am full. I love to say a simple gratitude prayer such as, "Thank you for this beautiful meal and for this food energizing and nourishing my body." This infuses your food with positive energy and love.

5. Experiment! There is nothing worse than eating the same boring, healthy salads every day. Your body will soon tire of this and want to rebel and eat something "naughty". Choose different recipes every week to cook and try out new ingredients. Get your whole family involved in the cooking process and make it fun. You don't have to be fancy, just inventive. I love fast, fresh and simple foods, but they have to be tasty!

Above all, be kind to yourself. Recognize that this is a process, and developing lasting habits for life takes time. Baby steps will ultimately get you to your goal.

Now over to you! What tips do you have for losing weight or maintaining your ideal weight? Please post your comments below, I'd love to hear from you.