Keeping in mind that some 50-70% of our weight may be genetically predetermined (Rethinking Thin—The New Science of Weight Loss and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, Kolata, 2007), survey studies identify that a number of behaviors slim people do that keep them that way. Although I could quibble with one or two findings, the point is that biology is not destiny and that there are folks with some of the most challenging weight-related DNA on the planet who manage to stabilize weight at a comfortable level and still enjoy eating and life.

Dr. John Foreyt, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, maintains that people who remain thin “are eternally vigilant with daily or weekly weighing, they monitor calorie intake and they’re highly active exercising at least 60 minutes a day.” Hmm, so what of the many “normal” eaters I’ve met, whether they’ve ever had an eating/weight problem or not, who never use the scale? Instead, they depend on their appetite to guide them (novel idea, huh?). So maybe there are two kinds of slim people who keep weight off by different means.

Then there’s Dr. Jim Hill, using research from the National Weight Control Registry (a database of more than 5,000 individuals who’ve lost and kept off more than 30 pounds for a year), who says that slim people aren’t your marathon runners, but are regular walkers burning “400 calories a day.” Okay, that sounds reasonable. Remember that activity need not be done all at once. Three 20-minute blasts work as well as one 60-minute workout. Hill’s point is that these folks are doing enough exercise to maintain a healthy weight—no more, no less—on a consistent basis.

Other findings (no surprises here) include that thin people eat slowly to give themselves a chance to digest food and don’t overeat, but pause between each mouthful to talk, think, rest, or take a sip of beverage. They eat more fruits and vegetables which translates to “one more serving of fruit and more fiber and less fat per day than overweight people.” Simply by increasing your fruit, veggie and fiber helpings, consuming healthier carbs, and decreasing fat servings, you’ll be eating more like a thin person. Slim people stick to a plan, such as eating breakfast daily and carefully monitor what goes into their mouth through heightened awareness and attention. Although not everyone is hungry for breakfast, it makes sense to start your day by fueling up. Nothing earthshaking in all this, to be sure, just some helpful reminders that everyone can make choices about food in spite of their biology, genetics, history, or weight.