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5 Quick tricks to help you eat less
Over the summer my food intake has certainly increased. All those little treats you allow yourself because “you’re on holiday” can soon become an everyday habit.
The problem with small increases in food intake is that they soon add up and you begin putting on weight, especially if you’re not moving more to compensation – me completely!
However, the same is true if you make small decreases here and there in your food intake. Over time these changes help to reduce any possible weight gain and could even help you reduce weight.
Of course, you could make a radical change i.e. drastic diet and probably see some immediate results. The problem with this strategy is that we usually can’t sustain it and invariably slip back into our old habits. This is why drastic diets never work long term.
So, I recommend implementing a few simple tweaks to your eating habits to get you started. These are changes that are hardly noticeable in your day to day life but they soon become everyday habits that you do without thinking.
1. Change your plate size
Dinner plates have been getting bigger and bigger. Some plates, particularly in restaurants can measure up to 12″/30cms. Change your plate size to no bigger than 10″/25cms. This small change could reduce your food intake over a year by 22% (source: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – Dr Brian Wansink)
If you want to really reduce your food intake then you could try using a side plate, which usually measure around 8″/20cms.
The reason this small change works is because you are tricking your brain into thinking you are still enjoying a full portion of food.
Small portions of food on a large plate make you feel as if you are depriving yourself. However, the same portion of food on a small plate looks larger and your brain feels more satisfied that it’s eating a full size meal.
2. Fill half your plate with vegetables first
When you are dishing food out onto your plate, fill half the plate first with salad or vegetables. The other half of the plate should be a quarter of protein and a quarter of carbohydrates, with a small portion of healthy fats.
If half your plate is already stacked with salad or vegetables you will automatically reduce the amount of foods you place on the other half. This is a really important trick to use at ‘all you can eat buffets’ or carveries if you are dining out.
3. Change the colour of your plates
Research suggests that when we use white plates, foods such as popular carbohydrates like rice, pasta and potatoes become lost against the white background. This increases the chances of overloading our plates with these foods as we find it harder to judge our portion size.
If you pick a coloured plate, particularly green or blue, the contrast against the ‘white’ carbohydrates helps you assess your portion size. Conversely, green vegetables don’t stand out so well on blue and green plates so you pile these portions higher – a healthy result!.
4. Make healthy foods in the home prominent
I’ve talked about this before in my super size challenge post
Make your fruit bowl visible and accessible – either on your kitchen worktop or your dinner table. Whenever you are feeling peckish or if you are in a rush to go out, you are much more likely to pick up a piece of fruit.
To make this work though you also need to hide away the cookie jar and unhealthy snacks. The harder it is to see and access them, the less you will choose them. If you are really struggling with sugar cravings, I would go so far as to say don’t even have them in the house. Temptation is everywhere outside our homes. Human beings have limited amounts of willpower. The best place to control your environment is in your home. Reduce all the temptations in this zone so that you only need to rely on your willpower once you leave the house.
5. Drink more water
Often we crave food simply because we are dehydrated. It’s really important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
When we are dehydrated we feel weak and fatigued and are much more likely to cave into the temptations of unhealthy food.
The NHS recommends we should drink about 6-8 glasses of liquids or 1.2 litres per day. This can include water, low fat milk and sugar free drinks like tea and coffee.
Invest in a beautiful water bottle to keep with you at all times, particularly on your desk at work. Work out how much water your bottle holds and then how many refills you need to maintain your recommended 1.2 litres. Pop a rubber band around your bottle for each refill you require. Each time you refill your bottle, you can remove a band. This will help you keep on track with your goal each day.
This week’s meal plan:
- Balsamic and green bean salad with salmon and sweet potato wedges
- Roast Pork with a pistachio stuffing, vegetables and roast potatoes
- Breaded chicken fillets and salad
- Chilli con carne
- Spicy stir fried pork with rice (left overs from roast)
- Indian chicken curry and rice
- Chicken pie, mashed potatoes and vegies
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