Tips for Eating
1. Get colorful. Yes, there’s a reason restaurants use the plates they do: They want the food to look amazing. And when the food looks better—you guessed it—you eat more. Research says to avoid plates that match the food served on them (think: a deep red plate with a greasy slice of pizza), because there is less of a contrast, which may prompt us to eat more.
2. Eat more snacks. Skipping snack time won’t necessarily lead to weight loss: Low calorie consumption can actually slow metabolism. Eating less than three times a day may benefit those who are obese, but research shows skipping meals throughout the day and eating one large meal at night can lead to some undesirable outcomes (like delayed insulin response) which may increase the risk of diabetes. Instead of forgoing breakfast or lunch, stick to a few meals a day with healthy snacks between them.
3. Persue the perimeter. Next time you need groceries, circle the perimeter of the store before going up and down every aisle. Why? You’ll load up on the healthy stuff first. The edges of grocery stores generally house fresh produce, meat, and fish, while the inner aisles hold more pre-packaged, processed foods. Browsing the perimeter can help control how many unwanted additives are in your basket.
4. Stock your fridge. Make an effort to fill your fridge with healthy produce and proteins. And when the crisper is empty, make sure the freezer is stocked with frozen veggie mixes or berries (and don’t forget to grab the bags that are sans added sauces or sugar). You may be less apt to order out when you’ve got the makings of a healthy dinner right at home. More good Caution-news: Healthy food doesn’t always have to be pricey.
5. Eat in the A.M. Skipping breakfast in order to “save your appetite” for dinner probably isn’t a safety shield for late-night noshing. While there’s still debate on how important breakfast really is, not eating until the afternoon may lead to binge-eating later (think: a massive dinner because you’re starving). Stick to a reasonably-sized breakfast with plenty of protein, so you’re not tempted to eat unhealthy snacks mid-morning.
6. Get busy in the kitchen. We promise cooking doesn’t take long! Your fave Seamless order—or any local restaurant—is likely an oversized portion, which can result in increased caloric intake. Start small by making one of these healthy meals in just 12 minutes or less (we’re talking: quesadillas, stir-fry, and burgers).
7. Prioritize your pantry. Take time to toss the junk. If you’ve got favorite not-so-great items you’d like to save as a treat, tuck them in the back of the pantry with healthier items, like whole grain pasta, rice, beans, and nuts up front. We know that just because the bag of lentils are right in front doesn’t mean you’ll forget about the brownie mix, but it can help. Just seeing or smelling food can stimulate cravings , and increase hunger (especially for junk food).
8. Serve restaurant style. Instead of lining up the breadbasket, casserole, and salad on the table, leave food in the kitchen (out of reach). When you’ve cleaned your plate, take a breather then decide if you really want seconds. Changing up the environment in which your food is served can help reduce intake.
9. Use smaller plates. Plate sizes have increased over the past millennium. When it’s time to sit down for dinner, choose a size-appropriate plate or bowl. Using a smaller plate (eight to 10 inches) instead of a tray-like plate (12 inches or more) can make us feel fuller with the same amount of food. How does that work? The brain may associate any white space on your plate with less food. Plus, smaller plates generally lead to smaller portions.
10. Snack before dining out. Grabbing an apple or a small cup of yogurt before meeting friends for dinner can help ensure you’ll eat a reasonable amount of that enormous entrée. And be sure to reach for the protein—research shows that an afternoon snack of Greek yogurt can lead to reduced hunger, increased fullness, and less eating come dinner time.
11. Freeze what you won’t be serving. Once meal prep is over, serve yourself a reasonable portion, then package up the rest and immediately stash it in the fridge or freezer for a later date. When the food is out of sight, studies show you’ll be less likely to reach for a second helping.
12. Wait before grabbing second helpings. The quicker we shovel down a meal, the less time we give our bodies to register fullness. Since it takes a little time for the brain to get the message that dinner’s been served, it’s best to go for a walk or get up from the table before dishing up seconds or moving on to dessert.
13. Chew slowly. Eating slowly may not fit into a busy workday, but it pays to pace your chewing: The quicker you eat, the less time your body has to register fullness. So slow down, and take a second to savor.
14. Turn off the TV. Eating while watching television is linked to poor food choices and overeating. Getting sucked into the latest episode of “Scandal” can bring on mindless eating—making it easy to lose track of just how many chips you’ve gone through. It’s not just the mindlessness of watching television that’ll get us. Commercials for unhealthy foods and drinks may increase our desire for low-nutrient junk, fast food, and sugary beverages.
15. Sneak in your veggies. Bumping up vegetable consumption has long been recognized as a way to protect against obesity. Add veggies to omlettes, baked goods, and of course, pasta dishes (Bonus: Try zucchini ribbons, or spaghetti squash instead or traditional grain pastas). Pump pureed veggies, like pumpkin, into oatmeal or casseroles. Adding a little vegetable action into a meal or snack will increase fiber levels, which helps make us fuller, faster.
16. Turn your back on temptation. The closer we are situated to food that’s in our line of vision, the more likely we are to actually eat it. If we face away from food that might tempt us when we’re not hungry (like an office candy bowl), we may be more likely to listen to cues from our gut rather than our eyes.
17. Grab a handful—not the whole bag. When snack time hits, our brains can be unreliable. It’s tempting to reach for a bag of chips, but instead, grab a handful (or measure out the serving size) then seal the bag and put it away. Odds are, you’ll be more mindful of how much you’re polishing off when you see it right in front of you.
18. Bring on the protein. Protein can help promote a healthy weight because high protein diets are associated with greater satiety. Plus, protein is important for healthy muscle growth. Animal sources aren’t the only option—try alternatives like quinoa, tempeh, and lentils.
19. Fill up on fiber. Eating more vegetables and other high-fiber items like legumes can help keep us fuller, longer. Look for at least five grams or more of the stuff per serving. Snack on some of our favorite high-fiber picks like stuffed baked apples or jazzed-up oats.
20. Make room for healthy fats. Cutting butter and oil can slash calories, and it’s easy to swap in foods like applesauce, avocado, banana, or flax for baking. But, it’s important to remember that we still need fat in our diets as a source of energy and to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Plus it helps us feel full. Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, coconuts, seeds, and fish. Pro tip: Combining fat with fiber has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.
21. Steer clear of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs are the white stuff—white bread, most pastries, refined sugars (the kind in soda and candy). What makes them simple? These foods provide energy, but lack the same nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fiber) as complex carbohydrates. The body also breaks down simple carbs quickly—meaning your blood sugar will spike, and your tummy might be rumbling sooner than you imagined. Choose whole grains instead, which may reduce potentially dangerous excess abdominal fat buildup (which can lead to diabetes). Switch to whole-wheat pasta, whole grain bread, or try grains like brown rice, quinoa, or millet.
22. Ditch the added sugar. Adding sugar to food may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (think: fruits, veggies, and whole grains) and scrap that spoonful on your cereal or in your coffee.
23. Make simple substitutions. Simple swaps—like Greek yogurt for sour cream, prunes for butter, or an Americano for a latte—can cut calories and sugar. Even a grilled cheese can get a healthy revamp by making a few smart subs.
24. Skip frying, and cut down on oil. Even healthy food can go bad when it’s been dropped in a fryer. Instead, pan fry or pop a dish in the oven. Use non-stick spray to sauté foods, or rub oil onto a pan with a paper towel for a light coating. You can even whip up a batch of healthier chips.
25. Eat fruit, instead of drinking fruit juice. Juices (which are often not 100 percent fruit) provide some vitamins, but without the same fiber and phytonutrients as a real piece of fruit. Take an apple for instance: The average apple juice box has nearly double the sugar and seven times less fiber than the apple itself.
26. Chew minty gum. Popping a piece of sugar-free gum won’t necessarily curb your appetite. But, a stick can keep your mouth busy when cooking a meal, or socializing among a sea of party hor d’ouevres. While the long term effects of gum chewing on weight loss are minimal, studies show it can lower cravings for sweet and salty snacks, and decrease hunger between meals. Plus, some studies have shown that minty gum has the ability to wake you up and lower anxiety.
27. Add spice with cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper can not only boost metabolism, but it can also cut cravings for fatty, sweet, or salty foods. Some studies even suggest the hot stuff can increase fat oxidation, meaning the body can better use fat as fuel. Sprinkle some on scrambled eggs, or spice up a stir-fry.
28. Give in to your cravings—occasionally. We love this tip. Cravings are OK! Acknowledge those cravings instead of pushing them away completely (which may lead to binge-eating later). Forbidding a food may only make it more attractive. Still want more of that chocolate cake after a couple of bites? Try thinking of your favorite activity—dancing in the rain, getting a massage, playing with a puppy. Research shows that engaging in imagery can reduce the intensity of food cravings. You can also try smelling something non-food related. One study found that smelling jasmine (still pretty pleasant!) helped to reduce cravings.
29. Save some for later. Like we’ve already mentioned, restaurant meal portions are usually heftier than what we cook at home. Make a conscious decision to bag up half of the meal before taking the first bite. The added benefit? You’ve got lunch for tomorrow.
Tips for Drinking
30. Sip before you eat. Pregaming a meal with a glass of water has been linked with more weight loss than cutting calories alone. You can also take some mid-meal breaks and guzzle a little water to give the brain time to register fullness.
31. Sip some green tea. Drinking green tea is one of the most common tips for shedding a few pounds, and for good reason—green tea is known for its ability to metabolize fat. And in combination with resistance training, green tea increases the potential for fat loss. Add a squeeze of lemon for a little flavor and to amp up antioxidant affects.
32. Gulp H2O. Kick the diet beverages and vitamin-enhanced sugar-water, and reach for good old H2O instead. Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Drinking water also significantly elevates resting energy expenditure (basically the number of calories we’d burn if we sat around all day) and lower water intake is associated with obesity.
33. Cut back on liquid calories. Milk and cookies, orange juice and French toast, wine and cheese—some foods seemingly require a liquid counterpart. But, it’s easy to pour on the pounds by chugging soda, juice, alcohol, and even milk on the regular. Sugar sweetened beverages are associated with increased body fat and blood pressure.
34. Water down your drinks. When you simply must have a swig of juice, try watering it down. While it may sound unappealing, gradually adding more water to less juice will keep some of the flavor without all the sugar and calories. Added incentive: Increasing water intake in place of sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices is associated with lower long-term weight gain .
35. Banish the booze. We probably don’t have to tell you that heavy boozing will pack on the pounds. And you’ve likely heard the phrase “drink in moderation.” The point is, alcohol houses a lot of sneaky calories and has the ability to inhibit healthy eating decisions (midnight pizza delivery, anyone?). Even after you’ve sobered up, alcohol can have negative impacts on strength and may leave you lagging in the weight room days later.
36. Choose tall and thin glasses When you’ve got a hankering you can’t ignore for juice or a cocktail, ask for a tall, thin glass, not a short, squatty one. Research shows that people pour less liquid into tall narrow glasses than into their vertically challenged counterparts, meaning you’ll (probably) drink less in one sitting. This is especially helpful when it comes to boozing.
Tips for Being Mindful
37. Brush your pearly whites. After dinner, brush your teeth. Getting minty fresh breath not only has obvious oral health benefits, but it can also keep you from mindlessly snacking while watching a pre-bed TV show. Oh, and it’s not a bad idea to hit up the floss, too.
38. Set realistic goals. It’s easy—especially come New Year’s resolution season—to set unrealistic goals about weight loss (lose 30 pounds in two weeks!). Since impractical goals can slow down long-term weight loss, it’s important to address those goals before making any health and fitness changes.
39. Stay positive. Many of us demonize certain foods, and even punish ourselves for indulging. Instead, positive messages like “I can control my eating” or “I’m proud that I ate responsibly today” can reframe our relationship with food. Research shows that positive expectations are also associated with weight loss.
40. Keep portions in check. Practicing portion control is one of the most reliable ways to lose weight—even if it’s not an easy task. Portion distortion is common, but it may help to use portion visuals. For instance, a serving of chicken (three ounces) is roughly the size of