18 Sneaky Ways to Eat Less
From eating too quickly to snacking while distracted (think TV or video games), many studies have been done that show why we overeat.
And let’s face it, if you’re trying to lose weight, eating fewer calories than you burn off with exercise (like Insanity or P90X) is the best way to shed those extra pounds.
Sometimes, though, eating less can be challenging. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 18 sneaky ways to help you reduce your calories intake and start to see dramatic results.
Chill out before you eat out (or in). Stress can make you feel like you need to eat faster. And faster eating means more calories (unless you limit your servings in advance). To let go of tension at the start of the meal, think about a relaxing moment in your life (like your last care-free vacation) or do a few minutes of meditation or deep breathing.
Keep smiling. Smiling triggers the release of serotonin, the “happy” hormone, which can reduce your appetite. Smiling (even if you are faking it) also reduces stress, which has been linked to obesity.
Eat dollhouse style. Trade in your regular-sized utensils for smaller spoons and forks. This will reduce the size of your bites and help you eat fewer calories during the meal. You can also use chopsticks to slim down each bite.
Crack some nuts. If you need a snack, try some high-protein nuts, but make sure they still have the shells on. One study found that people ate about half the calories when given pistachios in their shells, compared to the ones already shelled.
Savor, savor, savor. Don’t rush eating. When you make it an event worthy of paying attention to, you can trick your mind into think that you are fuller. With each bite, notice the texture and taste of your food … this is what’s called mindful eating.
Use a portion plate. Knowing the true size of a serving of various foods is essential for eating less. One company, The Portion Plate, makes it easy for you to figure out serving sizes, with pictures on the plate of proper portions of protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.
Become a switch eater. Slow down your eating by using your non-dominant hand. This will force you to pay attention to each bite of food, but it will also help you enjoy your food much more.
Get up early. Another study found that people who woke up later in the morning ended up eating more at dinner and for late-night snacks. If you do like to stay up late, though, stay away from the junk foods.
Keep hydrated. Dehydration can confuse your body into thinking it’s hungry. Take small sips of water between bites. Avoid guzzling because this can interfere with digestion. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day, and get into the habit of drinking water regularly.
Weigh yourself daily. Some days it may be frightening to get on the scale, but one study found that it could help you lose more weight. So face your fears and step on the scale. This will keep your mind focused on your health.
Socialize. Talking to others during meals forces you to spend more time between bites. This can give your stomach time to signal your brain that it’s full. Plus, keeping your mind stimulated can help you avoid overeating.
Pack in the protein. Protein not only helps you build muscle, but it can help you feel full. Shoot for low-fat protein sources—lean meats, beans, hemp seeds, and high-protein grains like quinoa.
Spice it up. Nothing helps you pay attention to your food than a little fire. Try adding some spices or hot sauce to your meals. This will also encourage you to sip more water.
Enjoy the soup. Sometimes low-calories foods don’t fill you up, but soups are the exception to the rule. Try starting off your dinner with a broth- or tomato-based soup, which is low in calories and makes you less hungry.
Skip the soda. You may think that drinking a tall glass of soda is the same as staying hydrated, but sugar-sweetened soda adds unneeded calories to your meal.
Pack it up before you can eat it up. Restaurants are notorious for serving super-sized portions. Avoid the temptation to eat it all at once. Ask for a box with dinner and pack up half (or more) of the meal to take home.
Dish on movie night. Don’t plop yourself in front of your widescreen TV with a bag (or more) of potato chips. Pour a serving in a bowl and leave the bag (hidden) in the cupboard. Even if you get up for seconds, you’ll still probably eat less because you’re eating mindfully.
Leave healthy snacks around your house. You’re more likely to snack on healthy fruits and vegetables if they are visible and handy. Chop up some apples, carrots, or cucumbers and leave them in bowls on the counter. This actually makes you eat more fruits and vegetables, but these foods are low in calories and high in nutrients, so it’s a win-win situation.