Even though most of us celebrated a quiet few weeks over the holidays this year, the types of food shared probably remained the same- lots of treats and high calorie dishes. Add to that the incredible stress and anxiety this particular season held. The result is that higher seasonal weight gains have been reported than in previous years.
Too often, diet is a “four letter word” that causes my patients to turn a deaf ear to anything else I say. Here are some great ways to shed pounds without a diet.
1. Eat on a salad dish and never finish more than 2/3 of what’s on the plate. If necessary, that last 1/3 can be treated as a decadent delight later that night when a snack is too much to avoid.
2. Eat multiple meals throughout the day instead of three large ones. You will eat less, stop feeling deprived and decrease cravings that encourage overeating and binging. This will also help to keep the stomach from expanding too rapidly, preventing satiety centers from kicking in and feeding back sooner that you are full.
3. Choose a red plate. Subconsciously it will signal the brain to stop and help us to sense when we are full sooner. Not only that, but studies showed that when there was also a contrast between the plate and the food, 22% piled less food onto their plate.
4. Take a bite, put the utensil down and take the time to chew the food. Need extra help? Count to five before you swallow. You’ll actually be able to savor the taste, flavor and texture of each meal. Increase the impact by sipping water between each morsel.
5. Pass on dessert. Not an option? Choose strawberries with Cool Whip, a sweet apple or orange. Try decaf peppermint tea. Really, really, really need that piece of chocolate? Make it a small one, or better yet, sugar free.
6. Drink water, drink water, drink water! Dehydration increases weight. But it will also fill up the stomach faster and help you to feel full quicker. Start with 16 ounces before the meal and continue throughout.
7. Pants feel tight? Take that cue as the time to put the fork down. Use how your clothes feel as a barometer of when you’ve taken in enough.
8. Hang up a favorite piece of clothing that is just a little too snug to wear. It’ll give incentive to get them on one day and reinforce all your hard work once you do!
9. Serve yourself an array of vegetables and fruits first so less space is available for other food types.
10. Eat all the fruit and vegetables you want. Not only because they are imperative to any healthy diet, but they also have a high water content, making caloric impact so low quantity is no longer important.
11. Sleep is a critical key to losing and maintaining weight loss. Yet something often overlooked. Studies show sleeping 7-9 hours a night will shed pounds annually. Make that the same 7-9 hours every night and you lose even more.
12. Turn off all the lights at night and add another few pounds to those easily lost. That means even the alarm clock or phone. If required for safety, add a red nightlight so you’re safe and not at risk for a fall when the bathroom calls.
13. Cut down on blue and green light exposure. Commonly used devices (like cell phones, tablets, and desktop computers) generate light in these ranges. Not only does it impact cortisol and insulin levels, but they alter our circadian rhythms, leading to nighttime binging and the overwhelming desire for junk food.
14. Eat foods that require shelling such as peas, oranges, and edamame. The longer they take to uncover, the more time you’ll have to sense if you’re full and ready to stop. Take a sip of water in between each bite to increase the feeling of fullness.
15. It’s true, we really don’t eat just one potato chip. Pulling them out of a bag makes it difficult to keep track of exactly how many you have eaten. Split them up into smaller storage bags that each contain only a single serving. That way you’ll always know when you’re into the next one.
16. Start each meal off with a bowl or cup of soup. Studies have shown this reduced caloric intake by 20%. Make it a broth so it’ll have fewer calories and throw in a few vegetables as a natural fiber. Both will help produce a feeling of fullness quicker.
17. Dish out food with a small utensil onto a small dish. Even experts have a hard time estimating portion size. In one study those who used a large bowl served themselves a 31% larger serving and 14% more with a larger utensil.
18. Don’t get distracted. Focus on the food when eating. Not the TV, book, game, or computer. Not only does it encourage overeating but people often reported feeling less full and went on to eat more later in the day or evening hours.
19. Order counts. Research shows we tend to fill 2/3 of our plate with the first three items we encounter. So make those the healthiest ones on your plate.
20. Really craving that higher calorie beverage? Trick yourself into believing you’re drinking more by pouring it into a tall, thin glass. Even experienced bartenders poured 20% more when the glass was short and wide. Add ice to improve the illusion.
Also keep aware of how much of each food type is recommended. Measuring and weighing is a pain- these reference items can make it easier:
- A golf ball or palm of the hand is the typical sized portion for nuts or dried fruit.
- The last part of the thumb is plenty for olive oil.
- A deck of cards for fish, chicken, and beef.
- A tennis ball, or closed fist, for fruit and vegetables.