Use portion control and frequent mini-meals to lose weight and shed the pounds.
Countless headlines promise a solution, as do numerous books on the subject: lose weight with this diet or get rock hard abs with this exercise machine. We want to believe their advice, yet we already know the secret to losing weight is simple: eat less.
Easier said than done, right?
Like practically everything in life, eating less is a matter of practice. But it's never easy to turn practice into a perfect meal plan.
"The problem for most people is that they continue to have certain habits that make eating less quite difficult," says Pat Booth, assistant director of the Nutrition Services Department at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
Anyone who has ever tried dieting before knows the immediate feeling of deprivation that accompanies most weight-loss plans. The result for most of us is that we can't stick with it.
Instead of drastically cutting your diet, try to gradually get used to eating less. Serve yourself smaller portions. Leave a little on the plate. In time you may find you need less to feel satisfied.
Watch this video on exercise routines you can do anywhere.
As you practice putting less on your plate, consider these seven self-help steps to eating less:
1. Mini-meals are the operative word.
Ideally, every time you eat, your plate should have a little protein, a little fat and a little fibrous bulk to ensure you feel full and satisfied. This takes some planning. It means losing the mindlessly munching on pretzels habit.
"Even if you eat fruit for a snack, healthy as it is, you won't feel completely satisfied because it doesn't have any protein and fat," Booth says.
An apple followed by, say, some plain yogurt, will do more for satiety than two apples.
A baked potato, which has 100 calories, contributes more to satisfaction than 20 potato chips, which, at 114 calories, adds up quickly. Top that spud with a quarter-cup of low-fat cottage cheese (100 calories), and you have a filling snack for 200 calories.
2. Don't go overboard.
You don't want to feel deprived at best, hungry at worst. Drastically cutting calories will slow down your metabolism by driving your system into famine mode, according to Booth.
Don't count calories. Just eyeball your portions. Let's say you are a woman who hopes to reduce her daily caloric intake from about 2,500 to 2,000. Focus on reducing your portion sizes by about 20 percent.
Within a matter of a couple of weeks, you will be adjusted to the new serving sizes and those will seem normal, according to Booth.