14 Secrets of Women Who Never Diet

Updated: May 13, 2024

Theoretically, the key to weight loss is simple—eat healthy and exercise. But that's so much easier said than done. We talked to people who never diet to uncover their secrets to staying slim.

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Get plenty of sleep

You may have heard that chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to be overweight. That’s because we all produce a hormone called ghrelin, which signals your body when it’s time to eat. Sleep-deprived people make more ghrelin, making you feel hungry even if you don’t need to eat. “When I am well-rested, I have energy to hit the gym, work more efficiently, and battle cravings for sweets or junk food,” says certified clinical sleep educator Terry Cralle, MS, RN. Don’t miss these other 50 things doctors wish you knew about losing weight.

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Walk everywhere

Raquel Riley Thomas, pageant queen and owner of eauty pageant production company An Officer and Gentlewoman, LLC, swears by her Fitbit. “I track my steps to make sure I get at least 10,000 steps every day,” she says. “This changes how I interact with the world. Instead of taking the elevator, I take the stairs, and I will clean my house trying to get extra steps in. I am excited when I get 10,000 steps, and physically my body is getting in better shape. It’s a win for all!”

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Watch your stress levels

Struggling with belly fat? Stress could be to blame, says Sai Aparajitha Gopalakrishnan, a health coach who helps women stop dieting. “Stress actually triggers the production of cortisol, which increases blood sugar,” she says. “An increase in blood sugar over a long time causes fat to be stored in our belly, one of the most problematic areas for women. When you learn to deal with stress better, you don’t need diets to get rid of our stubborn fat.” Don’t miss these other 11 sneaky things that make you gain weight.

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Don’t eat in front of a screen

Yep, that includes all TV, phones, computers, and tablets. People who eat while distracted consume more and are less likely to remember how much they ate, sometimes by as much as 25 percent, found British research. “Often, we consume calories mindlessly when distracted by technology,” says Jill McKay, certified personal trainer at Narrow Road Fitness. “This one simple boundary helps me be more mindful of what—and how much—I eat.”

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Maintain a healthy body image

Most people don’t succeed with their weight-loss goals until they learn to respect themselves and their bodies, says Michele Paiva, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in body image. “Body image struggles based on self-esteem can create the desire to eat, which releases hormones that give a quick euphoria or numbing quality. This is what happens with most bingeing,” she says. The best way to prevent this distorted mindset is to accept your current body, and then aim for a realistic body weight. Try these 10 surprising ways to boost your body image.

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Don’t obsess over weight loss

Once your mind is in a healthy place, your body is sure to follow, says registered dietitian nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield, author of Body Kindness. “Put energy into other hobbies, interests, and pursuits that give life more meaning. When we are so focused on self-improvement, we simply don’t put effort into living in the here and now. We can gain so much from letting go of the notion that our bodies need to be fixed.”

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Stay hydrated

Water gets the blood flowing through your body and aids in weight loss. “Hydration is key to avoid false hunger cues,” says registered dietitian Amanda Baker Lemein. She recommends aiming to drink three liters of unsweetened liquid each day, including water, sparkling water, and unsweetened tea. Try these other diet tips nutritionists use to lose weight.

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Prioritize self-care

Self-care is crucial for mental and physical well-being. Studies have found that a more psychological approach for weight loss can successfully end periods losing and regaining weight. “This may include getting enough rest, scheduling downtime, making time for family and friends, or spending alone time on an enjoyable activity,” says registered dietitian Samantha Lewandowski of Big Picture Nutrition. “This may also include saying ‘no’ to commitments or activities that would be draining rather than energizing.”

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Don’t stuff yourself

If your stomach feels like it’s about to burst, stop eating. Seems simple enough, but it can be harder than it sounds (especially when the food is good). Jessica Klingbaum from Be Hip and Healthy, shares a handy trick: “Even when I’m about to pop the button on my pants, I feel like I just have to have those last few bites anyway if what I’m eating is really delicious. So I’ll actually pour salt on whatever it is and ruin it, so I literally can’t have anymore. It simply gives you no choice but to stop eating.”

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Use essential oils

Klingbaum also loves to use essential oils to help curb cravings and control metabolism. “I’m a certified aromatherapy specialist, and there are certain oils, like grapefruit oil, that you can add to a glass of water to help control your appetite,” she says. “It’s a lifesaver when you’re stuck in a situation where you can’t eat and know that you’re going to be hungry.” These are the other essential oils that promote weight loss.

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Find a way to move that you enjoy

Exercise as a replacement to dieting is rarely enjoyable. Registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet from Street Smart Nutrition recommends finding a physical activity you actually consider fun. That way, you’re more likely to make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. “Exercise doesn’t have to be slogging away on a treadmill or sweating it out in a class,” says Harbstreet. “Get outdoors or try something new to discover what feels good for your body.” Learn 18 more secrets of women who manage to work out every day.

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Don’t restrict the food you love

For a happier relationship with food, avoid categorizing anything as “bad,” says Ivana Chapman, nutrition coach and founder of Lean365. “It’s tempting to fall into the latest diet craze by banning gluten, carbs, sugar, or processed foods, but it’s not necessary to do that in order to stay slim,” she says. “Restricting certain foods, especially those that you love, just makes you more obsessed with them and more likely to overeat when your willpower gives in.” Instead, focus on eating more of these 20 superfoods that could help you lose weight.

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Avoid diet labels

While it may sound good in theory, products advertised as “diet-friendly” can set the brain up for wanting more sugar, leading to potential weight gain. And that’s not all, says registered dietitian Ashley Reaver. “These products are usually processed gimmicks, filled with chemicals, and don’t satisfy our hunger or cravings,” she says. “This can lead to us eating more later in the day because we made a ‘good’ choice earlier, but it didn’t satisfy us. If you have a craving for a treat, just have the real thing in a smaller portion.” Check out these genius portion control tips for easy weight loss.

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Eat intuitively

In the end, it’s all about trusting your own body, says Jordan Mazur, registered dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers. “Intuitive eating is about becoming in tune with your body’s natural hunger signals,” he says. “Try asking yourself, ‘Am I really hungry enough to eat this apple?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ then eat it. If the answer is ‘no,’ then don’t.” Check out these 50 ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.