When you think of losing weight, do you think of feeling hungry all the time, eating foods that taste like cardboard and never having another bowl of ice cream? Not necessary. In fact, making drastic changes in your diet, especially ones that aren’t sustainable, can set you up for mealtime misery and yo-yo dieting. Turns out, there are a few science-backed tricks that can help you cut calories, make smarter food choices and slim down.
Put a little less on your plate. A 2014 study from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that the average adult eats 92% of whatever is in front of them. If you're like the vast majority of adults, if you serve it, you'll eat. There’s more trouble ahead if you don’t pay attention to portion sizes: Supersizing can easily pac on pounds. Stick to single servings and you won’t have to worry if you’ve cleaned your plate.
Tip: To keep portion sizes under control, try eating off a smaller plate, such as a dessert or salad plate. Use a regular dinner spoon instead of a larger tablespoon when serving yourself. And remember, your meal won’t seem so small if you load up on healthy veggies and salad – just be mindful of calories in the toppings and dressing.
Be smart about fruit. Many fruits are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates, but that doesn’t mean you need to banish them from your diet. A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increasing the amount of fruit you eat doesn’t automatically lead to weight gain. Fruits are also packed with fiber, vitamins and other nutrients your body needs.
Tip: Stick with water-packed fruits to eat more without worries. For 100 calories you could have one medium-size banana or a medium-size apple - or you could enjoy two cups of grapes, 2 ½ cups of strawberries or 2 ½ cups of watermelon and still hit the 100-calorie mark.
Ditch the white bread - we mean it. Eating white bread is an unhealthy rut to be stuck in since it lacks the fiber, minerals and other healthful nutrients found in darker, whole-grain breads. But here’s another reason to say “no thanks” to the white stuff. A study of the eating habits of 9,200 adults found that those who only ate white bread,and had two or more portions per day, were 40% more likely to have weight problems. Adults who ate both white and whole-grain breads weren’t at increased risk for weight gain.
Tip: Challenge yourself to ditch white bread altogether for 10 days and see how much you really miss it. Try some whole grain options instead: You’ll boost both your health and weight loss efforts.
Whip it good. Foods that are whipped or puffed up with air can make you feel satisfied without overdoing the calories. Take popcorn (hold the melted butter): It’s light and airy so you end up eating about a third fewer calories than you would with more calorie-dense snacks, like potato chips. If you use cream cheese or other spreads, go for the whipped variety. Ounce for ounce, they have fewer calories and fat.
Tip: Try whipping air into eggs for fluffier omelets. To get maximum volume, mix them in a blender.