Most of us are looking for ways to shed a few pounds and trim down. It may surprise you to hear this, but going on an extreme diet or trying to completely overhaul your eating habits all at once may not be the answer. Making small and reasonable changes may be the way to get the best (and most lasting) results. Here are a few ideas you could implement NOW! No shopping, no pills, no books required.
Eat only when hungry. Babies have it all figured out – have you ever tried to feed a baby when they are not hungry? They know when to quit eating but somewhere along the line, we lost that! Paying attention to our body’s signals and cues will help cut down on over-eating.
Increase your water intake. Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water daily can help to curb your appetite for sugary drinks and sodas and keep you feeling full between meals. Some people claim they don’t like the taste of water, but once you get yourself used to drinking water, you’ll develop a preference for it over those sugary drinks. Also, our bodies can confuse hunger for thirst. Staying well-hydrated will help prevent that confusion. If you thing plain water is just too boring, perhaps try adding lemon, strawberries, or cucumber slices to your next glass for a nice refreshing drink.
Reduce your portion sizes. When making pasta, don’t mix the noodles in with the sauce. Have half of a chicken breast and increase your vegetables. Place a smaller portion of pasta on your plate and add a bigger salad. When dining out, order an appetizer portion, half portion, or kid’s portion. If you order a full meal, ask for a box when they bring you the meal. Place half of it in the box so you are not tempted to keep eating. You can also ask the waiter to halve your portion in the kitchen, putting one half in a to-go container that does not arrive at your table until after you’ve paid the bill.
Fill up with fruits and vegetables. Eat extra portions with your meals. Add an apple, blueberries, or other fruit to your breakfast or finish off the meal with an apple, pear, or other fruit of your choice. Have extra vegetables with your meals and skip the white potatoes. You may choose either raw vegetables in the form of a salad, or you may have cooked vegetables such as spinach or green beans. You should leave the table feeling satisfied, but not stuffed. Vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals and cooperate with your body to help you lose weight.
Eat smaller meals more frequently during the day. It has been found that eating smaller meals can help you control your appetite more than eating three large meals. Eating smaller meals does not mean snacking on unhealthy foods in between your main meals. It means eating healthy, nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. Other ideas include a slice of sprouted grain bread with peanut or almond butter, a cup of cottage cheese topped with some tomatoes slices, apple or celery stalks with peanut butter, or a handful of healthy raw nuts.
Crack some nuts. In a recent study by Eastern Illinois University, participants who were given shelled pistachios consumed 211 calories while those who had the in-shell variety consumed only 125 calories in the same sitting.
Make snacking healthy. When snacking, put the portion that you plan to eat into a bowl or container instead of eating straight from the package. To take it a step farther, be intentional; don’t allow yourself to snack mindlessly. Sit down at the table and eat your meals or snacks. It can help prevent unintentional or habitual over-eating, such as in front of the TV.
Increase your activity level. You don’t have to buy a gym membership in order to increase your activity level. Take 20 minutes every day and take a walk with the kids, walk the dog, or stroll around the office or mall. If you are going to the supermarket, park as far as you can from the store entrance. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the cart back to the store instead of using the nearest cart corral in the parking lot. Dance while cooking. Do leg lifts during commercials of your favorite TV shows. Get creative and challenge yourself to find ways to keep moving.
It isn’t what we do once in a while that shapes our lives but what we do consistently.