Short term weight loss plans just offer short term results, and they can even lead to more weight gain by slowing down your metabolism. Instead of focusing on fad diets with big calorie restrictions, try the most important diet rules to live by.

From exercising portion control to sticking to less processed food and a few other great diet tips, here are a few guidelines that will lead to weight loss and healthier eating in the long run.

1. Always Plan Your Meals and Snacks

Getting organized always leads to making better choices. Without any kind of plan, you’ll just end up eating whatever is available when you get really hungry. Getting healthy snacks and keeping them close is one way to stick to your weight loss goals, so make sure that you always have a grasp on your next meal or snack.

2. Control Your Portions

Shunning entire food groups or avoiding your favorite types of dessert just because you want to lose weight can be counterproductive. Instead of saying “no” to foods you love, one of the best diet rules to live by is to simply exercise portion control all the time. Stop binging and just eat the stuff that’s bad for you as an occasional treat.

3. Learn to Recognize True Hunger

You’re more likely to overeat if you reach for a snack when you’re actually thirsty or when you’re just bored and watching TV. Start analyzing how you really feel and determine if you’re really hungry, or if you just want a glass of water or to munch on something while you’re doing something else. Sticking to your planed meals and not eating when you’re not hungry can go a long way.

Healthy Diet Rules

4. Avoid Major Calorie Restrictions

One of the most important diet rules to live by is to never push your body into starvation mode. That’s what all crash diets and many other weight loss diets do, slowing down your metabolism and making your body deposit more fat when you end up overeating. If you’re looking for sustainable nutrition and weight loss, avoid restrictive diets and just eat better, while exercising portion control.

5. Stay Hydrated

A glass of lemon water in the morning can have a lot of benefits for your digestive system, but you should always try to stay hydrated with water throughout the day. Staying hydrated isn’t just healthy, it can also have a big impact on your stress levels. When you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to make the wrong choices.

6. Eat Every Color of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fresh is one of the best diet rules to live by, but you should also focus on variety. Fruits and vegetables in different colors contain different vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals. If you try to eat seasonally, you’ll get the biggest nutritional benefits from different produce, but you should aim for natural color variety in your meals.

7. Don’t Think Supplements Can Replace Healthy Eating

You should focus on getting all the nutrients you need from eating fresh, not by taking multivitamins and other supplements. Only take dietary supplements after consulting a doctor or a registered dietitian, and try to get everything from the right foods.

Having Early Breakfast Is Good For You

8. Aim for an Early Breakfast

Nutritionists and doctors agree that you should have the first meal of the day in an hour after waking up at the latest. One of the best diet rules to live by is to never skip this meal and aim for eating within 30 minutes after waking up. An early breakfast will help your metabolism and provide energy for longer.

Don't miss: 10 Foods Nutritionists Refuse to Eat

9. Try to Have a Meat Free Day Every Week

Meatless Monday is a great idea because not eating meat for even a single day every week can mean significantly less saturated fats. Start with meat and then also remove other animal products from your meals once a week. You’ll also get to discover delicious new plant-based recipes.

10. Cook Junk Food Yourself

Everybody gets cravings for salty and fatty foods, but if you draw the line at packaged junk food and just cook it yourself, this small change can make a big difference. It’s one of the best diet rules to live by because it will naturally mean less junk food in your diet.