Losing weight doesn’t have to be as difficult as most folks like to make it seem. Making a few adjustments can be the difference between losing one pound and losing ten. Use these 20 everyday tactics that will get you started on your weight loss plan and then help you stick to it. Soon enough, your diet will simply become the way you eat.
1. Always eat dessert
Yes, always. "A small amount can signal that the meal is over," says Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. She ends her meals with a piece of quality chocolate — and she's a doctor. Other options include mini-cupcakes or fruit.
2. Blot out the fat
You can use a napkin to blot a teaspoon of fat off of a pizza slice. That may not sound like a lot, but multiply it by a slice a week, and that's more than a whole cup of fat you won't eat — or wear — this year.
3. Take the beltway
When junk food beckons, tighten your belt a notch. Not so you can't breathe, but so you have a gentle reminder of the size you'd like to be. "The scale isn't the only measure of weight," says Roberta Anding, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
4. Go public
Enlist the help of coworkers, friends, and family — and know they're watching. "The power of embarrassment is greater than will-power," says Stephen Gullo, PhD, author of The Thin Commandments.
5. Get spicy with it
Capsaicin, the substance that puts the hot in hot pepper, temporarily boosts your metabolism. Just make sure you're drinking a yogurt lassi with that searing-hot chicken vindaloo. Dairy blocks capsaicin's sweat-inducing signals better than water.
6. Milk it
Consuming 1,800 mg of calcium a day could block the absorption of about 80 calories, according to a recent University of Tennessee study. Jump-start your calcium intake by filling your coffee mug with fat-free or 1% milk, drinking it down to the level you want in your coffee, then pouring in your caffeine fix. That's 300 mg down, 1,500 to go.
7. Go organic
That's where you're likely to find bread and cereal with fiber counts that put the conventional choices to shame. Thought you were doing well with your 3-g-per-serving Cheerios? Nature's Path Slim blows it away with 10 g. (And it really doesn't taste like a shredded shoebox.)
8. Splurge on precut veggies at the supermarket
Sure, they cost more, but you're more likely to eat them. "Make low-energy snacks as easy as possible," Rolls says. "Keep vegetables as near to hand as you can. Make it so you have no excuse."
9. Practice fine dining
Pick a restaurant where you'll actually want to linger. "When the meals are not hurried, the presentation is beautiful and the portions are reasonable so you can regulate your attitude," Anding says. That means your body — not the empty plate — will tell you when to stop.
10. Don't skip your 3 pm feeding
"Have a 150 calorie snack [now], and it can save you 400 calories later," Anding says. An ounce of nuts or two sticks of string cheese weigh in at about 170 calories.
11. Increase your a-peel
Speaking of fiber, a lot of it's in the peel, whether its potatoes, apples, or pears. Even oranges — don't eat the whole peel, but keep the pith, that white stringy stuff; it's packed with flavonoids with more nutrients, more fiber, and less labor.
12. Drink with your dominant hand
If you're circulating at a party, Rolls suggests keeping your glass in the hand you eat with. If you're drinking with it, you can't eat with it, can you?
13. Plate it
Whatever it is, don't eat it out of the container and don't bring the container to the couch. "Part of satiety is visual," Anding says. "Your brain actually has to see the food on the plate, and when you reach into the jar, or the box, or the bag, you don't see it." If it's worth eating, put it on a plate. Eat what's there, and then stop.
14. Keep your hands busy
Find a way other than food to work off your nervous energy. "It's behavior modification," Anding says. "Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, you pick up your knitting. Art works, woodworking works — anything that occupies your hands."
15. Take 10
When your mind strays from your desk to the vending machine, it could be hunger — or it could be boredom or irritation with your boss. If you're still thinking about snacking 10 minutes later, then you're probably hungry. Think of it as a chance to have one of the nine servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day.
16. Go out for ice cream
Or an eclair. Or even guacamole and chips. Just go out. Don't keep your danger foods in the house. You can't eat half of a carton of ice cream that's not there.
17. Start with salad
It's the holy grail of dieting — eat less by eating more. Rolls's research has found that eating a salad as a first course decreased total lunch calories by 12%. Avoid the croutons and creamy dressings, which have the opposite effect.
18. Just scrape by
Always order your bagel or burger with a plastic knife. Use it to scrape off the excess cream cheese and mayo. You could shave off as many as half the calories.
19. Send back the bread
All it takes is a wave of the hand, a smile, and a "No, thank you."
20. Go crazy — sometimes
Deprivation won't make you thin — or happy. Designate a meal or two a week when you can eat absolutely anything you want.
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