9 Easy Ways To Eat Less

As the holiday season goes into full swing, here’s some helpful tips:

  1. Fill your plate once, whether it’s from a buffet or just from the stove top.  That’s it.  No seconds – and double-decking isn’t such a great idea, either.
  2. Use the smallest plates, bowls, and glasses you can to help you feel full even when you’re eating less. The smaller the plate the less food that can go on it. You probably won’t even know the difference because your eyes and brain are registering full plate. According to the CDC, a study looked at how adults reacted to four different portion sizes of macaroni and cheese given to them on different days. The larger the portion, the more people ate, eating 30% more when they were given the largest portion compared to the smallest one, yet they ranked their hunger and fullness similarly after both meals.  Only 45% noticed that there were differences in the size of the portions they were served.  The same optical illusion applies to glasses.  Choose taller ones instead of shorter fat ones to help cut down on liquid calories.
  3. Keep the serving bowls off of the table Put food on your plate and then sit down to eat it.  Serve reasonable portions on individual plates instead of helping yourself out of bowls on the table. According to an article in the May 2011 Nutrition Action Healthletter, when serving dishes are left on the table men eat 29% more and women 10% more than if those serving dishes stay on the counter.
  4. Leftovers lead to overeating so make only what you need. If you do cook enough for multiple meals pack up the extras and put them away immediately. Avoid eating the little bits of leftovers in the pots – those calories really add up – as do all of those tastes while you’re cooking and preparing.  Do enough nibbling and tasting and you come close to eating two meals.
  5. Distractions equal mindless eating. Excess calories and the size of the package your food comes in influence how much you eat. The larger the package, the more you tend to eat from it.  If you have a bag of chips in your lap as you watch TV or surf the net you don’t even realize how much you’re eating – and, in many cases, don’t gauge whether you’re full of not – so you keep eating.  If you do watch TV or work at the computer while you’re eating, don’t eat straight from the package.  Divide up the contents of one large package into several smaller portions. Put it in a bowl or on a plate.
  6. Don’t eat off of your kid’s plate, your spouse’s plate, or your friend’s plate.  The calories from someone else’s plate still count – and are oh so easy to forget about.
  7. Hide the stuff that tempts you.  Out of sight, out of mind is really true. We all tend to eat more when it’s right in front of us.  Food we like triggers cravings and eating.  So, keep the veggies in the front of the fridge and the rice pudding in the back.  Get rid of the candy dish and the stash of pop tarts in your desk drawer. If you buy jumbo size packages, put the excess somewhere inconvenient so you’ll have to work to get at it.
  8. Don’t feel obliged to eat out of courtesy – even if you don’t want the food or you’re full – just because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.  Get over it – the calories are going into your mouth, not theirs.  If someone really hounds you about trying something you can always claim an allergy or that you’re eating heart healthy (claiming an upset stomach might buy you an early exit or other guests avoiding you like the plague).
  9. Pick your dining companions carefully. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine seems to indicate that if you’re struggling with your weight, there is a good chance that your friends and family are, too. You also tend to mimic your table companions.  If they eat fast, you eat fast – if they eat a lot, you eat a lot. In his book, Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink, PhD cites a study that shows how strong the tendency is to increase the amount you eat when you eat with others.  Compared to eating alone, you eat on average:
  • 35% more if you eat with one other person
  • 75% more with four at the table
  • 96% more with a group of seven or more.


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