The sun is out, which means most people will be looking for quick and easy ways to lose those extra winter pounds.
I want to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite easy, and maybe even fun, ways to cut calories because weight loss is all about cutting calories. And that doesn’t mean going on a drastic diet, rather it means finding easy, manageable, and sustainable ways to cut out a couple hundred calories here and there.
Adding red pepper flakes, chopped jalapeños, or hot pepper sauce to just about anything can make food taste delicious and turns down hunger, resulting in eating less. Studies also show those who consume hot red pepper ate less food and burned more calories (due to the increase in metabolism) than those who didn’t.
Salt craving? Turn to chip alternatives
When you need a salty fix, reach for popcorn, not chips. According to one study, those who munch on a cup of the air-popped treat are significantly more satisfied than their chip-loving friends. Popcorn is a whole grain, is full of fiber, offers great flavor, and provides a satisfying portion size. Since one cup of potato chips is a dense 150 calories, while the same amount of popcorn is only a super-light 15, you can feel full and slim down with every delicious bite.
The more we reorganize each day around healthy food options, the easier it is to sidestep temptation. Keep fruits and veggies in plain sight at all time. Keep convenient, ready to eat foods in the front of the refrigerator and the unhealthy foods stored in the back.
Research has also shown that keeping a fruit basket on a kitchen counter encourages eating fruit when a sweet tooth appears. The truth is, we’re triggered to eat by the sight of food. So it just makes sense to put in clear view the food you should be eating. In sight, in mind.
Yep! That’s right. The color of your dinner plates may actually help you eat less. That’s the conclusion from a study published in the journal Appetite. For the study, researchers gave 240 participants snacks of popcorn and chocolate chips served on either red, white, or blue plates.
And it turns out that those who munched popcorn or chocolate chips off of red plates ate less overall than those who ate the snacks off of white or blue. Researchers proposed that many of us associate the color red with stopping or caution, which may help encourage eating less of anything that is served on that color.
As anyone who’s tried to eat sensibly knows, starving yourself now will just have you eating much more, later. To combat the urge over indulge in the evening, make sure to eat breakfast that morning. Choose a sensible breakfast with protein and fiber. Healthy choices for protein include eggs, yogurt, and nuts or nut butters. Be sure to pair your high protein choice with a high fiber food like a high fiber cereal or fruit.
One simple little change like skipping the ketchup, mayo or other ‘special’ sauces could save you around 100 calories per day. That one small step alone could help you lose up to 10 pounds this year.
Go to the grocery store alone
Sure, we all know not to go to the grocery store hungry. But regardless of the fullness factor, we tend to bring more junk food home when grocery shopping with a significant other or kids. You have a much better chance of sticking to your list if you go it alone. And less junk food in the house means less junk food in the belly.
Drink a glass of water before every meal, even breakfast
Thirst and hunger are hard to tell apart. Many times when we reach for food, it is really just because we are somewhat dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water before each meal can prevent dehydration, which allows us to better navigate hunger and satiety signals.
- RENE FICEK, whose column runs the last Tuesday of each month in The Times, is a registered dietitian nutritionist for Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. She can be reached by emailing email@example.com.
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