If you’ve been following my blogs, you already know the most important thing about losing weight is burning more calories than you take in. Period. If this is still questionable in your mind, read my last blog “Exercising to lose weight? Here’s why that may not be the BEST strategy.” I promised to give you practical tips for reducing calories without feeling hungry and here they are:
- Know Your Enemy. Whether you realize or not, your surroundings influence what and how much you eat. In today’s fast-paced, mega-portions and sedentary environment, it’s way too easy to eat more calories than your body burns up. Set yourself up for success by:
- Replacing tempting food with healthier or pre-portioned options. Out of sight, out of mind. Even having a candy jar in your eyesight will cause you to eat more. Get rid of it.
- Never, ever eat out of the bag or container, otherwise you’ll mindlessly munch away. It’s super easy to scarf down 500+ calories when you’re eating from the ice cream carton or that big bag of chips.
- Serve yourself using small(er) plates and glasses. You’ll put less food on your plate and you’ll eat fewer calories. Yes, plate and glass sizes have increased dramatically over the last few decades – hence the bigger portion sizes
- Avoid all-you-can eat places. We’re wired to eat, regardless if we’re hungry so it’s better to just stay out of these restaurants.
- Don’t eat while distracted – watching TV, surfing the internet, etc. Eat and only eat to avoid eating too much without realizing it. Most people do this at night while they’re sitting on the couch watching their favorite shows.
- Cook smaller portions. Studies show if you prepare smaller portions, you’ll eat fewer calories. If you cook in bulk to save time, pre-portion right away.
- Start your meal with a small garden salad or broth-based soup and skip the appetizers or bread basket. Doing this will help you feel fuller and take in fewer calories.
- Track it. The first step towards changing or improving something is to become aware of how it is now. Plus studies show people who keep a food diary/log lose more weight and are more likely to keep it off. So if you’re serious, don’t mess around. Jot down every morsel that goes into your mouth.
- Don’t Drink Your Calories. Drinking regular soda, juices, coffee drinks and sweetened beverages give you calories, but do nothing to help you feel satisfied. Opt for water or other calorie-free options.
- Eat Breakfast. Prevent over-eating later in the day by eating a morning meal – preferably high in fiber with a little protein. Try a bran cereal with fresh fruit or 100% whole wheat toast with eggs or peanut butter.
- Eat every 4 hours. Waiting too long leads to eating more calories and making poor food choices. I recommend 3 meals and 1-2 snacks per day. Healthy snacks, of course. (My favs are 100 calorie kettle popcorn and a Fiji apple – crunchy, sweet and salty or a 100-calorie Fudgsicle when I want chocolate.)
- Avoid fried foods and fast food, unless you can find a meal with less than ~500 calories. These are typically way too high in calories and artery-clogging fat.
- Choose lean cuts of meat , or remove the fat before eating. Fish, skinless poultry, and “Select” grades of beef. “Prime” cuts of beef have the most fat.
- Switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Nonfat milk instead of whole milk, reduced fat cheese and low-fat yogurt are good choices.
- Eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Research shows that doubling fiber intake boosts weight loss. Yes, you can drop 5 pounds in a few months by just using this tip alone. Fiber is a powerhouse food and most people get half of what they need. Fiber-rich foods slow digestion, help control blood sugar, boost the feeling of fullness, help manage hunger and more. To get enough, eat fruit with 1-2 meals and have it for a snack and have veggies with every meal. Replace refined foods (white rice, pasta, bread) with high-fiber cereal, steel cut oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans and lentils.
That’s it for now – incorporate one or two of these tips at a time for at least 21 days so it becomes a habit and you’ll see the fat melting away. You’re on your way to a leaner and healthier you!