Losing weight in a sustainable manner requires a caloric deficit, which can be achieved by consuming fewer calories or burning more through physical activity.
While some people choose to cut back on calories, restricting intake can be a challenge for many individuals.
Fortunately, there are effective techniques to help you eat less without feeling deprived.
In this article, we will outline several tips and tricks to help you consume fewer calories while still enjoying your meals, and retrain your brain to recognize when you’re full, preventing overeating.
1. Take it out of the package
When you’ve got a hankering for potato chips or another snack, don’t just mindlessly eat from the bag or box.
Instead, portion out a single serving into a small bowl.
This way, you know exactly how much you’re eating and aren’t left mindlessly munching until the bag is empty.
2. Put your fork down between bites
During any busy day, it can be easy to see mealtime as just another to-do – that you have to quickly get it over with.
But rushing through meals can make you eat too much since it takes your brain awhile to register that your stomach is getting full.
Put down your fork between bites to take your time and really taste your food. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Stopping when you’re satisfied, not full, will make you feel better in the long run. Use this guide to gauge your hunger and fullness levels.
3. Eat Before You Party
If you’re going out to a party or restaurant where you’ll most likely eat more than you want, have a small snack before you leave the house.
This way, you won’t be ravenous when you’re faced with a menu or buffet full of scrumptious treats and will be able to make more rational decisions.
4. Break down your meals
It has been suggested that eating five or six mini meals could help reduce blood sugar swings and curb out-of-control hunger.
Some people prefer this method, while others like to stick with three square meals a day.
Try experimenting to see what works for you!
5. Start your meals with a broth based soup
When you’re out to dinner, start with a broth-based soup. Broth soups are lower in calories than creamy options and will take the edge off your hunger before your meal arrives.
6. Don’t get distracted, focus on eating
One recent study found that spending more time in front of the television leads to a higher consumption of unhealthy snacks and drinks.
Be sure to skip the Law and Order reruns while you’re eating, and don’t forget about other distractions like your smartphone or computer – put them all away.
7. Drink more water
I can’t emphasize this point enough – it’s common to confuse thirst with hunger, so make sure you stay hydrated during the day.
If you think you may not be truly hungry, drink a glass of water first and wait a few minutes. Often, the water will hit the spot if you’re only thirsty, but hunger will intensify the longer you wait.
Either way, studies have shown that drinking water before you eat a meal may also help you eat less overall.
8. Listen to your body
It can be easy to set your eating schedule by the clock, but this sometimes means that you’re eating a meal when you’re not actually hungry.
This tactic only further confuses our bodies and inhibits us from noticing and responding to true feelings of hunger and fullness.
Instead, make a concerted effort to listen to what your body is telling you when mealtime rolls around.
You may find that you’re not even hungry and are just eating out of habit! Once you do start feeling those tummy twinges, get your chow on.
9. It’s ok to have leftovers
Sometimes a meal is so delicious that you have a hard time calling it quits – even when you’re stuffed. Remind yourself that what you don’t eat now will be available for leftovers later.
10. Throw out the junk
If you keep a food in sight, especially a tempting one, you’re more likely to eat it. So don’t keep sweet treats or trigger foods in plain sight.
Hide that candy jar on your desk, and place treats or snack foods on the highest shelf out of sight in your pantry.
If you’re like me with little self control, just toss them all out – they’re going to go past their expiration date anyway!
11. Eat at home
When you eat on the run or in your car, you’re more likely to grab convenience foods, which are loaded with high calories and salt. If at all possible, try to eat at home.
A recent nutrition study suggests that people eat healthier meals in the comfort of their own homes.
Stock your kitchen with healthy items you can grab in a hurry so that you don’t have to take desperate measures away from home.
12. Choose from the kid’s menu
If you do have to hit up fast-food to cope with your craving for a burger or fries, choose the regular hamburger or even the junior or kids sizes.
You’ll satisfy your craving without indulging in a caloric disaster.
13. Use smaller plates
Dinner plates have expanded in diameter over the years – really – to match our ever expanding waistlines.
Filling a larger plate can cause you to scoop up (and eat) larger portions. Downsize your dinner plate to trick your eye and brain into eating less.
14. Have a conversation during dinner
The next time you sit down to a meal with family or friends, slow down your eating and really contribute to the conversation at the table rather than letting it become secondary to your meal.
This will give your brain time to register that you’re getting full and you will naturally consume less food, all while getting in some quality face time with the ones you care about.
15. Share your meals
Split your entree with a dinner partner when dining out. The portions are usually large in most cases and you get to save money.
16. Wait a few minutes before going for seconds
When you have finished eating, but still feeling hungry for more, wait. Give yourself five minutes to let your fullness level register with your brain.
If you’re still hungry when the time’s up, go back for a modest portion.
17. Say no to alcohol
When you’re out with friends, it can be easy to sip on alcohol, lose your inhibitions and start throwing your healthy eating habits out the window–not to mention that alcohol calories add no nutritional value to your diet.
So drink in moderation and alternate each drink with water, or skip the alcohol altogether and remain strong in your healthy eating convictions.
18. Say no to soda
Yes, let’s get rid of this habit too, even if they’re diet or ‘zero’ calories.
Many studies show that drinking diet soda can still put you at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, while triggering your appetite and sugar cravings.
If you get thirsty, water is always the best choice!