You know that one of the keys to losing weight is eating fewer calories. But it can be hard to know how to cut back without feeling deprived or hungry. As a registered dietitian and the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, I know there are a bunch of tricks that can help you consume fewer calories without feeling deprived.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
It’s hard to resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face. When office workers were given candies in clear dishes to place on their desks, they helped themselves to candy 71 percent more often than a similar group that was given the same candy in opaque dishes so that the candy wasn’t visible, according to research by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York. “We’re all on the ‘see-food’ diet,” he says, “so don’t let yourself see what you don’t want to eat.” Do yourself a favor and keep tempting foods out of your sight. If you’re going to keep snacks at home, stash them inside a cupboard; keep healthier options like apples out on the counter.
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Focus on Your Food
If you eat while you’re distracted—like when you’re watching TV or even thinking about other things—you may end up eating more without even enjoying it. A new study in the journal Appetite found that people who ate lunch while listening to a recording that cued them to pay attention to the look, smell, taste and texture of their food ate fewer cookies as a snack later on. Rather than mindlessly plowing through food, take time to savor it.
Eat with Chopsticks
An easy way to slow down your eating (which can help you lose weight) is to put your fork down between bites—or consider using chopsticks. When eating, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register fullness. And according to a University of Rhode Island study, you can save 70 calories by eating slowly over about half an hour versus eating in under 10 minutes. If you ate slower at every meal, that would translate into losing about two pounds a month.
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Fill Up on Fiber
Vegetables are low in calories, but their water and fiber content make them filling. Whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, 100% whole-grain bread) are also more satisfying than refined grains, so you might find you can feel fuller on a smaller portion. (Read these easy swaps to boost your fiber intake throughout the day .)
Size Down Your Dinnerware
A smaller portion will look meager if served on a gigantic plate (I know…I had this experience at a restaurant the other night). Invest in 7-inch plates (about the size of a salad plate) to eat your meals on: they will look more ample. Another trick you can take from new research by Brian Wansink, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, is to make sure your plates and bowls contrast color-wise with your food—e.g., oatmeal served in a red bowl rather than a white one. Researchers found that participants ate less when served food in a high-contrast plate or bowl, likely because it made their portion even more noticeable.
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What healthy tips can you share to cut back on calories? Tell us what you think below.