Keep your eyes on the prize. Why do you want to lose weight? For more energy? Improve your health? To fit into your “skinny jeans” again? Make your ex jealous? Whatever the reason, write it down and post it in a visible place – such as your morning mirror. By keeping your goal front and center, you will maintain focus and stay with your new meal plan.
Treat yourself to eight hours of shut-eye. Turn off the computer and television and make time for sleep. Sleep deprivation creates havoc with your appetite regulation: Grehlin, the hormone that promotes hunger, increases – and leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite, decreases. The brains of tired people send out messages that say, “Eat a lot of starchy and sweet foods.” Make it a priority to get the 7½ and 8½ hours of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
Move your body more. Burn calories during all your waking hours, not just when you’re at the gym. Eschew drive-thrus. Save time and burn calories by selecting the first parking space you see, then walking to the door of your destination. When at the mall or even at the grocery store, walk up and down the aisles first before beginning your shopping. Stand up, don’t sit, when on the phone or any other times you can. An fat-burning enzyme becomes activated when you’re standing.
Slow it down. Weight loss advice has recommended slower eating strategies for years with little proof. Now we have scientific evidence it works. A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who eat slower take in significantly fewer calories and their sense of satiety was higher. By taking smaller bites, pausing between bites and chewing thoroughly, you can eat less and be more satisfied while you’re at it.
Eat high volume foods rich in fiber and water. Vegetables and fruits are 80-95% water, are fiber-filled and displace rich high-cal foods. Broth-based soups, such as vegetable or minestrone, take a while to eat and are satisfying. Another strategy is to eat a large salad before the rest of your meal – fill up on greens, not higher calorie fare.
Carbs are okay. While in recent years, carbs have gotten a “bad rap,” they are recognized as the body’s main energy source. Trouble is, there are better and not-so-good carbs. The better ones digest slowly and are found in vegetables (even spuds), fruits, and whole grain breads and cereals. The not-so-good carbs are often packaged with fats such as cheese-covered fries, desserts, and sweetened coffee drinks. Eat healthy carbs with each meal. The best diet to control appetite is a combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Practice mindful eating. Select foods that engage the senses. Take the time to savor their taste, appreciate their nourishing value, even consider their origin. Eat consciously and enjoy the sensory satisfaction of every food. Don’t eat while multitasking. Use smaller plates and tall skinny glasses. Know when to stop eating. Hint: You should feel like you could take a moderate-paced walk after your meal.
Toss your trigger foods. These are the foods that, once you start, you can’t stop eating. For some people, it’s a box of cookies. For some, it’s a big bag of chips. Other common trigger foods include ice cream in a pint container, a big bag of nuts, or a container of chocolate or other candy. If you don’t start, you don’t have to worry about stopping.
Drink to shrink. Guzzle water instead of pricey diet sodas in between meals. In a University of North Carolina study, researchers who reviewed eating and drinking habits of over 4,700 people found that those who drink about seven glasses of water every day ate nearly 200 fewer calories than those who drink less than one glass. And a University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, study found that the more diet sodas people drank per day, the greater their risk of becoming overweight.
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