If you’re trying to eat less, why make it harder than it has to be? No one needs more complications or stress or to-do lists. If you’re trying to lose weight, your head is probably way too full of information and “rules” and plans that make you tired and unmotivated just thinking about them – and you’re not alone.
Research shows that most women have the motivation and willpower to stay on a “diet” for less than 3 weeks (19 days, to be exact). No surprise there, but you know what’s worse? Another study, of women in the United Kingdom, found that over the course of a lifetime, the average woman spends 31 years on a diet.
Thirty-one years. Let that sink in.
That’s a big chunk of your life to spend struggling to eat less, never mind the research that diets don’t work.
There’s a much easier, peaceful, and effective way to stop overeating and take control of your weight—and it grows from simple, do-able steps that transform the way and the amount that you eat, and leave you feeling better in the process. Using these strategies can make eating less easier and can lead to a big difference in the number you see on your scale.
Here are five simple ways you can start eating less today:
1) Stop multitasking when you eat.
Yes, I’m like a broken record on this one – because it’s important. We all multitask when we eat. Eating at our desks has become the new power lunch. Unfortunately, it’s probably increasing your pant size as well. The research is clear. When we focus solely on eating (no multitasking, no TV, no reading, no Facebook), we eat less and we feel more satisfied with what we have eaten. If food is an important part of your life, shouldn’t you be giving yourself permission to experience and enjoy it? If you’re still unconvinced that you can sacrifice the time to stop working and eat, know that research also shows that strategic work breaks actually improve your productivity and focus.
2) Serve yourself.
It’s simple advice, but advice we all tend to resist. When we serve ourselves (don’t put the serving dishes on the table) and actually measure portions, we eat less. In the world of restaurant mega-servings and giant plates, our own idea of a serving can quickly become skewed. At home, pull out your measuring cups and give yourself a quick and easy reality test. When you’re eating out, size up the portion size before you dig in, decide how much of your plate constitutes a realistic portion, and put your fork down frequently to check in with your hunger level.
3) Buy new dishes.
Speaking of giant plates….Size does matter. Researcher Brian Wansink found that, on average, downsizing from a 12-inch to a 10-inch dinner plate results in an average of 22% fewer calories served. Even better, it seems that this difference is not drastic enough to trigger a counteracting response (sometimes when we cut back we tend to compensate by eating more of something else—this is not the case here). If a typical dinner has 800 calories, a smaller plate would lead to a weight loss of around 18 lbs. per year for an average size adult. Interested?
I know – you’ve heard this one from me before too – but sleep is so critical to eating less, it should probably be step number one on this list. Inadequate sleep causes weight gain. Period. If you aren’t getting enough sleep you will feel hungrier. You’ll crave more carbs. Over time, subsisting on too little sleep even affects metabolism. Getting 7 ½ hours of sleep a night is one of the best things you can do to stop overeating and feel better. Period.
5) Veggies first.
Change up your routine to find easy ways to fill up on the nutritious, high fiber, low calorie stuff first. In our house we make kale chips and eat them while we cook dinner or we put out a plate of raw veggies and hummus to munch on while we grill. Try serving and eating your salad before you serve yourself the rest of your meal or eating a piece of fruit shortly before you go to lunch.
Don’t roll your eyes or minimize the value of small, straightforward actions. They are do-able and can become the foundational habits that not only create results, but motivate and energize you to take the next step.
Take good care,