16 Simple Tricks to eat less to lose weight
You’re eating healthy foods—but still, weigh more than you’d like. If that’s you, consider this tidbit of edible math: When Cornell University researchers asked volunteers to estimate the number of eating decisions they make every day, most said 15. In fact, they really made about 221 decisions about what to eat—as well as how, when, where and with whom they’d eat.
So many food decisions are made on mindless autopilot,” says researcher and food psychologist Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating—Why We Eat More Than We Think.”It’s really easier than we think to let small things around us—plate size, package size, people around us, distractions—influence these 200-plus decisions, because we are not aware of them in the first place.
From taste-testing globs of cookie dough to taking second helpings of mac ‘n’ cheese to settling in for this week’s episode of The Voice with a bag of chips, autopilot nothing can pad your diet with hundreds of undocumented calories every day. Getting a grip on “amnesia eating” could close hidden diet loopholes so that you can reach your healthy-weight goals—and cut unwanted fat and sugar out. Here, strategies to help you identify situations where you consume excess calories and how to set yourself up for success.
so here are our 16 simple ways to eat less and lose weight faster.
Keep your entrée, starches, and high-fat foods in the kitchen. Keeping them off the table allows you to linger over conversation without temptation. Do put plain veggies, salad, or the fruit you’re having for dessert out on the table—few of us get the 5-12 produce servings a day nutritionists recommend. Wansink says this advice could cut meal-time calories by 15-20%.
In one study, volunteers ate 30% more chicken wings when the bones were whisked off the table than when the evidence was left to pile up in plain view. If you’re having muffins baked in muffin papers, cookies from a box, ice cream, or any other high-cal food that creates trash, leave the debris out while you nosh so you’ll be aware of how much you ate.
Buck the trend toward dinnerware fit for a giant. A normal-sized portion looks ample on a slightly smaller plate. And several studies show that everyone from kids to long-time bartenders pours less when they’re using tall, skinny glasses than wide, squat ones.
Alcohol often makes for uninhibited eating. If you enjoy a glass of wine or beer with your meal, have it at the end. Offset the calories by choosing fruit for dessert—how about a bowl of berries with a glass of Merlot, or a rich Chardonnay paired with slices of ripe plums or peaches, or a sparkling white wine with clementines or strawberries?
Don’t talk with your mouth full. Cultivate the art of conversation and prolong your meal by putting your fork down between bites and focusing on table talk. Some couples and families make a point to share positive experiences from their day with each other at meal time. (And turn off the TV during meals!)
Sometimes, the classic restaurant-eating advice to get a to-go container right away and pack half your meal before you begin to eat seems out of place—especially if you’re out for a fancy meal or dining with new friends. To avoid overeating, simply mark off what you’ll eat and what you’ll save for later—i.e., cut off the portion of meat you’ll have now, then cut it into bite-size pieces as the meal progresses. Divide that giant mountain of rice into a little “now” pile and a bigger “take home” pile. You can do this without fanfare, with a few sweeps of your knife or fork. Once you’ve eaten your ‘now’ portions, fold your napkin and put your silverware on your plate.
Usually, there’s no culinary reason to taste cookie dough or cake batter, so keeping your mouth busy with strong, mint-flavored gum, and your taste buds busy with an assertive flavor such as spearmint could do the trick. Bonus: Choose a sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol—it may help fight cavity-causing bacteria.
Allow yourself only tiny tastes of your stove-top or oven-ready creations, then crunch on baby carrots when you feel the need to chew on something. Or, have a glass of ice water on hand.
Children, especially preschoolers, tend to take only what they’ll eat—and helping them learn to dish out only enough food to satisfy their hunger is a life lesson worth learning (and worth your patience and guidance).
Even a 4-year-old can walk a plate into the kitchen. If you get out the trash can, they’ll love dumping uneaten food in, too. Give their uneaten food to Fido if you feel bad throwing it out, just don’t let yourself pick at it!
Skipping needed food during the day can leave you authentically hungry at night when your resistance is lower because you’re tired. If you’re having trouble finding time for breakfast, settle on one or two-morning meals that you can eat on the run or set up the night before. If you find yourself skipping an afternoon snack, try bringing one from home so that it becomes a no-brainer.
Instead of abusing the Chunky Monkey ice cream when you’re agitated, soothe your mind and body with a short yoga routine or a few minutes of progressive relaxation: Breath slowly, then focus on one area of your body at a time. As you exhale, feel the tension in that area melt away. Start with your feet, end with your neck, shoulders, head, and face (relax your eyes and even your tongue—you may be surprised by how much tension you’re holding in those spots!). Twenty minutes of relaxation could lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can trigger food cravings. Or, call a friend, write a letter, read a good book, walk outside and admire the moon and stars, pet your dog, or go hug your spouse. Humans are meant to be together—reconnecting is relaxing.
We promise—you’ll get used to it in a day or two. If your house has an office nook in the kitchen (as many new homes and condos do), use it for cookbooks only—keep your office in another part of your home to keep yourself out of the kitchen at off-hours.
Wrap them, pack them, stick them in tough-to-reach, hard-to-see spots in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. In one famous study, office workers ate 23% less candy from a covered, opaque candy dish than from a see-through container.
This can send a powerful “eating time’s over” message that your brain automatically obeys.