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5 Ancient Habits to Help You Lose Weight Today

Sticking to a healthy diet was simple in ancient times, when physicians like Hippocrates and the Roman doctor Galen—who studied obesity-related diseases 1,800 years ago—advised the masses on how to achieve wellness. According to David Zulberg, author of The 5 Skinny Habits, these classic approaches may be key to staying slim in the 21st century.

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Eat only two big meals daily

In ancient times, it was routine to eat only two major meals a day, but three has become today’s cultural norm today. Try this compromise: Have two regular meals and a light and healthy third. Your light meal can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner—just keep it under 250 calories. Ideas might include instant oatmeal, whole bran cereal with fat-free milk, or a bowl of lettuce and peppers.

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Designate a “PV” meal

Translation: protein and veggies. For your biggest meal of the day, combine a lean protein main dish with a side of vegetables, skipping starches and grains. Add a glass of dry red wine if you wish. The protein source could be chicken, fish, meat, or a soy product—think teriyaki salmon with sautéed vegetables or a chicken salad. Leaving out carbs will prevent overeating, according to ancient physicians. The vino will provide a sip of health benefits like fewer common colds, weight loss, mind and brain enhancement, disease prevention, and better heart health.

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Fine-tune your lunch

Think of your remaining meal of the day as your “V-Plus” meal. Usually lunch, this is your practical and enjoyable meal. Eat whatever type of food you’d like, such as one moderate helping of protein and one moderate helping of your favorite starches and grains, but for any second helpings only take veggies. So, if you munch on a tuna wrap and you’re still hungry after, dig in for more salad. 

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Get moving!

Exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous to be effective; consistency is more important than difficulty. Even regular light exercise improves mood and controls appetite. Start with just 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week, which can include vigorous activities like jogging or jumping rope or more gentle workouts, like walking briskly or leisurely swimming. As you become more fit, you can include strengthening exercises and interval training for even more health benefits.

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Resist cravings

Everybody gets cravings (surely, even the ancient physicians), but don’t confuse them with hunger. The trick is to substitute those junky foods with something else. A fundamental rule: drink plain water between meals, as it’s common to mistake thirst for hunger. If you still feel hungry after hydrating, try fat-free or low-fat dairy between meals, like yogurt or cottage cheese. Or, nibble on fresh fruit.

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Rodale Books

Learn more ageless secrets

For more tips inspired by ancient docs, pick up The 5 Skinny Habits, where you’ll learn how to stick to your new healthy routine, fascinating facts about favorite food and drinks (like the best time to enjoy wine), and smart workouts and snacks even Hippocrates would approve. Take a look here.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest