If you’re dieting, chances are, you’re looking for easy ways to eat less that don’t equal starvation. Well, love, I can help! I’ve been chatting with my personal trainer and with my idols, the women I know who’ve been successful dieters, and I have lots of their advice to share. Here are 21 ways to eat less, without depriving yourself. Enjoy… really!
1 Know Your Calorie Goal
Before you diet to lose weight, and worry about finding ways to eat less, it’s a very good idea to make sure you actually NEED to do these things. Take a few minutes to use the free tools at choosemyplate.gov to see how many calories you actually burn and consume, and compare those numbers to what they ought to be. If you do need to cut calories, and eat less, keep reading!
2 Plan for Five Small Meals
When we’re hungry, we tend to overeat, so one of the most effective ways to eat less is to eat smaller meals, more often. This will help keep you feeling full, never ravenous, so you’ll be less likely to overeat, like you would if you were saving your appetite for three big meals.
3 Use Smaller Plates
Have you ever noticed that a small meal served on a huge plate, looks, well, tiny? Another great way to eat less is to fool yourself into thinking your meal is bigger by creating an optical illusion — use a smaller plate to go along with your smaller portion! It’s true. Try it!
4 Stay Hydrated
Did you know that often, when you’re feeling hungry, you’re actually thirsty? This is only one reason to stay hydrated, sipping on water throughout the day. Keep a bottle of water with you all day long (not calorie-laden soda) and you’ll notice you feel more alert, more energetic, and best of all, less hungry!
5 Try a Meal Replacement Bar
I keep a CLIF bar or two in my bag for when I just can’t make an entire meal or snack. Sure, they contain some calories from sugar, but they’re also loaded with protein and fiber, and they contain natural sugar… so if I have one of these as a snack, I’m full and satisfied for hours… and less likely to overeat at my next meal.
6 Don’t Skip Meals!
Speaking of meals, now that I’ve stressed it’s important to plan to eat five small meals a day, don’t try to get around this by skipping a meal, even one of them! Why? Because when you’re hungry because you’ve skipped a meal, you’re likely to overeat at the next meal, undoing all your hard diet work that whole day. Also, skipping meals can force your metabolism to a grinding halt, making it harder for it to kick into high gear again.
7 Snack Wisely
Two of your five meals are supposed to be small, healthy snacks, but these scheduled snack times can be times of diet-breaking temptation. Rather than snacking on crisps or sweets, choose fresh veggies or fruit. You’ll curb your sweet or savory craving, without adding extra fat and calories. Plus, since fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, you’ll also stay fuller, longer than you would have with your naughty snacks.
8 Time It Right
There’s a trick to scheduling your meals and snacks that’s another way to eat less. Plan them when you tend to be hungry, minus about fifteen minutes. If you’re an 11 o’clock snacker, plan a healthy snack break at 10:45. If you tend to want a snack while watching Dancing with the Stars, DVR it and watch it during your afternoon snack break.
9 Measure It out
Sometimes we overeat without even knowing it! Try this experiment. Grab a bowl and pour what you think is one serving of cereal. Then measure it to see how close you came to what the box says is one serving. Chances are, your “serving” was actually at least twice what the box said! To fix this serving-size snafu, measure your servings until you’re comfortable estimating on your own.
10 Cook at Home
Of course, you’ll feel really silly measuring servings out in public, so try to cook at home more often, which is another way to eat less… if you know what a serving looks like, or if you’ve measured it while you were cooking, then you’ll be a lot more in-the-know that if you’re guessing at a restaurant, where you’re not even sure exactly what’s in the food.
11 Cook Just Enough
It’s easy to overeat if you’ve made more food for dinner than you and your family need, so be careful to cook just enough for all of you. If you have prepared more than you’ll need, put the extra servings away before you sit down to eat — cold mashed potatoes out of sight in the fridge are a lot less tempting than hot mashed potatoes in the pot on the stove a few steps away…
12 Prep Your Snacks
Once you’ve learned what a serving size looks like, prep a few servings of snacks and meals ahead of time in separate dishes or baggies. For instance, clean and cut single-servings of chicken or fish into little freezer-safe bags for dinners, or fresh fruits and veggies or nuts into snack-sized baggies. Do this at once, as soon as you get home from the grocery store, to save time.
13 Don’t Buy Your Kryptonite
I have a weakness for ice cream, and after a week of feeling dietary deprivation, I tend to overeat and stuff myself silly on it over the weekend. This, of course, undoes all of the work I achieved all week, so I’ve figured out the best way to eat less is to keep ice cream out of the house! Figure out what you’re weakness is, and refuse to buy it until you’re well on your way with your diet. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat too much of it!
14 Dining out? Eat Half
Most restaurants serve two and a half servings on one plate. I mean, really! A serving of chicken is supposed to be a small breast, about the size of a deck of cards… but most restaurants consider a serving of chicken to be two big breasts… ridiculous! Avoid overeating at a restaurant by asking for half of your meal to be wrapped to go before it’s delivered to your table… and presto! A way to eat less, and a bag full of lunch or dinner for tomorrow!
15 Share with a Friend
If you feel weird asking for a doggie bag for half your meal before it’s even arrived at your table, consider sharing the meal with a friend, rather than each of you ordering a separate meal. Both of you will eat less, of course, and you’ll save a little money, too.
16 Skip the Condiments and Dressings
It’s amazing how quickly the calories in a healthy green salad can add up once you start adding toppings and dressing: croutons, cheese, bacon bits, Ranch dressing… suddenly your salad might as well be a burger and fries! Avoid overeating and adding extra calories by being careful about what you’re adding to your meal… condiments, toppings, dressing… they’re almost always extra calories.
17 Eat Slowly
Our brains don’t register the fact that our stomachs are full for as many as ten minutes, so slow down, chew your food, and enjoy your meal, pausing now and again to see if you’re full yet. Use these pauses for light conversation… and give your brain time to catch up to your belly.
18 Learn What “full” is
What exactly is “full,” anyway? It differs from person to person, and most of us only recognize fullness at its worst, OVER-full. Learn your body’s signals to determine how you feel full best, and use this as a way to eat less.
19 Drink before and during Meals
Before you eat a meal or a snack, drink about 8 ounces of cool water, and be sure to drink throughout your meal, too. Water is calorie-free, and can help you feel full… and it can also help you avoid overeating.
20 Don’t Eat While Distracted
We tend to eat while we’re doing just about everything: watching TV, reading a book, going to the movies, hanging out with friends… but eating while we’re distracted means we often eat far more than we should. So here’s another way to eat less — stop eating with distractions.
21 Don’t Eat out of the Box or Bag
Here’s the last way to eat less — when you’re eating a snack, pour out a serving into a bowl or baggie, rather than grabbing random handfuls from the bag or box. Eating handfuls is a poor way to keep track of serving sizes, but pre-measuring, rather than eating from the box or bag, will ensure you won’t overeat.
I know it seemed impossible when you first started reading this, but see? It’s completely possible to eat less, without depriving yourself. Which of these tips do you think you’ll like best? Which do you already use, and find most helpful? Or do you have another way to eat less you’d like to share? Please do!