Eat Less to Gain Greater Results and Satisfaction
If your summer schedule was packed with backyard barbecues, graduation parties, special vacation dinners, or simply afternoons spent snacking by the pool, you may be looking to drop a few pounds as the season of sun and fun winds down. Learn how you can eat less and stay full longer with these tips and tricks.
Focus on Fiber and Protein
When you incorporate dietary fiber and lean protein into every meal, you’re going to increase satiety—meaning you’ll be fuller with less food. This is especially important for breakfast. I recommend egg whites with veggies, a slice of whole grain toast and fresh fruit, or choose almond or peanut butter or low-fat cheese as alternative protein options. This is a better way to start your day rather than just eating a bowl of cereal; with cereal you’ll likely be ravenous in an hour or two.
Drink 1/3 to 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water or non-calorie liquids each day (in other words, if you weigh 160 pounds, aim to drink 50 to 80 ounces of water). This may help you eat less by keeping your stomach slightly full and your gastric juices diluted; it’ll be easier to know when you’re truly hungry, as opposed to thirsty.
Just as it’s important to distinguish hunger from thirst, it’s also important to distinguish the craving to eat versus the need to eat. I encourage my patients to become more aware of their body and their environment each time they eat.
Ask yourself: Am I actually hungry right now? Or, am I craving a certain taste or flavor or food for other reasons?
You tend not to realize how much you’re eating, or pay as much attention to the quality of your food choices, when you’re on the run or otherwise distracted. Therefore, another simple change might be only eating while sitting down at a table, as opposed to standing up, or in the car, or in front of the television.
Get Enough Sleep
A recent study from the University of Chicago found significant reductions in both sweet/salty cravings and overall appetite among people who get sufficient sleep each night. While there isn’t necessarily a magic number of hours, most adults need upwards of 7 1/2. If you’re only sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night, you’re likely sleep deprived and may have to deal with a bigger appetite or food cravings.
Pay Attention to Portion Size
You’re probably all too aware of the enormous portions served at most restaurants today, but have you noticed how this trend has crept onto our own dinner tables?
Fifty years ago, the standard dinner plate diameter was 9 inches. Today, it’s not uncommon to find dinner plates that are 11 or 12 inches, sometimes even larger. I teach my patients about nutrition on 9-inch plates, which you can fill up with fewer calories.
You might also switch up a few other plating patterns: Use a dinner plate for salad, for example, and salad plates for your meat, starch, and vegetable. Be aware of today’s larger bowls for soup and cereal, as well.
Finally, keep in mind that food is not your enemy. If you’re genuinely hungry, eat something. Ideally, choose something healthy and enjoy your food.
Starving yourself will only backfire—ultimately, you need a positive relationship with food, and you need to listen to your body’s hunger signals to achieve lasting weight loss.
A Virtua registered dietitian can help you create a healthy and satisfying eating plan that fits your life and needs. Call 1-888-847-8823 to make an appointment.
Updated August 20, 2019