Tracking calories is a tried-and-true method for weight management, but it can be challenging in certain situations such as being on the go or attending social events.
It’s important to have some strategies in place for those times when a rigid calorie counting approach isn’t possible.
Here are some practical tips to help you stay on track with your weight loss goals without having to rely solely on calorie counting.
1. Eat foods that are filling and low in calories
That means, as often as possible, your meals and snacks should include whole grains, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and oatmeal, as well as legumes, such as lentils and other beans. And don’t forget to fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
2. When you eat meat, cut out fat and cut down portion sizes
Choose lean cuts of meat and modest amounts — about 3½ or 4 ounces per serving (which is roughly the size of your palm).
3. Avoid fried foods
Frying foods adds fat and calories. For stove-top cooking, it’s better either to stir-fry foods in a nonstick pan lightly coated with a cooking-oil spray or to braise them in broth or wine. Baking, broiling, and roasting are also great options — they add no extra fat to your meals.
4. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy foods
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of protein and calcium, but the whole-milk versions of these dairy products are very high in fat.
5. Avoid fast foods
Hamburgers, chicken nuggets, French fries, and other fast-food staples tend to promote weight gain for two reasons. First, they are high in fat, calories, or both. Second, the “value meals” available at many fast-food chains are often excessively large and tempt you to overeat.
6. Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks
Chips and other deep-fried snacks are high in fat and therefore calories. But even snacks labeled “low-fat” are often high in calories because they contain large amounts of sugars and other carbohydrates.
7. Watch what you drink
Regular sodas, fruit juices, and, especially, alcoholic beverages are high in calories.