Nutrition Articles

9 Simple Tricks to Eat Less

Cut Calories, Not Satisfaction

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Setting a goal (such as losing weight) and implementing steps to reach it (like portion control) are two very different things. When it comes to eating healthier—or eating less for that matter—it isn't always as simple as "just eating less." Why? Because what and how much we eat is influenced by so many factors—the environment in which we're eating (relaxed at home or at a party), how much food is served (a portion-controlled meal at home or a super-sized restaurant meal), and how hungry we are (just a little or famished)—mindfulness, speed, emotional state. The list could go on and on.

The good news is that YOU can control many of these factors; it's just a matter of bringing them to the forefront of your mind until they become habits. Here are nine proven tricks you can use to help yourself eat less and keep your calories in check. Over time, they'll become second nature—and your weight loss will be second to none!

1. Enjoy every bite.
Do you take time to smell the flowers? How about taking time to enjoy every meal and snack you eat? There is truth in the benefit of slowing down and appreciating the world around you, food included. Focusing on every bite can help you practice mindful eating, which has been shown to cut down on calorie intake. Slowing down between bites allows you to recognize your feelings of hunger and satiety so you have a chance to realize when you’ve had enough—then stop before you clean your plate and later regret it. Eating at a relaxed pace also means you'll chew your food more thoroughly, thus experiencing fewer digestive issues and less intestinal upset. This may take some practice. The hustle and bustle of daily life often catches up with us and sometimes it takes a conscious effort to take it easy and give your brain a chance to enjoy the food and tell you when you’re full. Until you get in the habit, try leaving a note or motivational saying on your dinner table. ACTION TIP: Set a timer. Start by finding out how quickly you currently eat your meals. You may be surprised to find out that breakfast or lunch at your computer is over within 5 or 10 minutes. Then, work on adding time to your meals, aiming for each meal to take AT LEAST 20 minutes.

2. Use smaller plates, cups and bowls.
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About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

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    - 5/10/2016 7:34:07 PM
  • RWOMMACK
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  • Am guilty of eating too much, sometimes because I do not want to waste the food or something, but i really enjoyed reading this article. I will make some changes henceforth. - 2/1/2016 5:48:20 PM
  • TORBITCHARISSE
    I eat backwards, working nights I eat at night, and sleep during the day. I work out just 20 minutes when home, but do mall walking at work. 6 times around is a mile, and walk at school 3 times a week with a book bag. I also drink a lot of fluids. I don't seem as hungry. - 9/1/2015 9:43:00 PM
  • I think portion sizes are really important. I ask my sons all the time what the portion size is when they offer me a cookie or piece of candy. Anymore they just tell me what the portion size is and ask if I want the treat. I hope they carry this on to adulthood and not battle weight like I have over the years. - 8/24/2015 11:38:58 AM
  • MICHAELLEARNS
    Hi Sarah. Thanks for sharing this great article. Eating on a smaller plate is the one that works for me, and eating my breakfast allows me not to take other small meals in between...hehehe. I hope your readers will benefit from this too. http://bit.ly/hea
    lthy_diet
    - 7/30/2015 7:33:45 AM
  • MOBYMOBY
    The pitfall list is great idea. I would add certain moments during routine day that trigger hunger/eating. My pitfall moments are procrastinating a task and coming in the door. "A well-defined problem is half-solved."
    - 4/1/2015 6:12:30 AM
  • Great tips here, thanks! The article could use a little proofreading, I spotted an error. It was two sentences mashed together, and that didn't make sense. But other than that, great! These are the top tips that nutritionists and fitness trainers give their clients! - 3/31/2015 8:41:40 PM
  • I have been utilizing 100-calorie protein shakes. I sip on one in the afternoon, and it keeps me from snacking.
    I know some people avoid anything processes, including shakes and bars, but my doc told me to keep my caloric intake below 1100 and these shakes have been helpful. - 3/31/2015 11:48:24 AM
  • DISNEY_QUEEN
    When I was losing my 40 lbs two years ago, I followed most of these tips, but my best tool was water. I drank 8-16 oz glasses of water a day. I made sure I drank on before every meal, then I was less likely to load up my plate. Also many times when you think you are hungry, you are just thirsty, so every time I felt a hunger pang, I drank another glass of water. It works!
    Of course it goes without saying that you must exercise along with adjusting your diet. - 2/13/2015 8:44:51 AM
  • How ingenious - and CUTE !

    Bravo for another GREAT article - 1/24/2015 9:36:09 PM
  • AMYBELANGE
    This is a really good article. I learned a lot of these tips when l began my final weight-loss journey. One thing that was important was to know my pitfalls, and to work with my strengths and weaknesses. I know that I love eating until I am "full," so I did the following:
    1. Eat healthy nutritious options first: broccoli, cooked cabbage, etc, became my "go to" foods prior to enjoying my regular foods. These made me full in a healthy way.
    2. Food journal! This helps me see where my calories are going during each day.
    3. Working with weaknesses: I love sweets, so I substituted my sweet treats for low-calorie sugar free options. (Be careful here, because sugar-free doesn't mean low-calorie). This takes a bit of work, but I enjoy a lot of things that I did before, just differently.
    4. Plan and pack foods! This is one of the most helpful items. I store non-perishable foods in my car so that I have a "go to" when I am hungry instead of not planning what I eat. - 12/29/2014 8:46:18 PM
  • UTAHLADY
    I appreciate all this information. I've been trying to find a site that provides sensible, proven info regarding health. I am going to try to dig into the prepared menus and prepare ahead as much as possible. - 9/24/2014 12:37:28 PM
  • SOLPHEM1
    Lots of good ideas. Starting to try to lose after quite of not being careful for quite a while and finding so many things to do with Spark People a bit overwhelming. Doing my best to get back into the swing of it all. - 9/18/2014 12:53:32 PM
  • FOXGLOVE999
    The biggest key for me is savoring my food. I love food, eating things I don't like, or shoveling in mediocre food is not helpful. Everything that I put in my mouth has to be worth it. - 9/3/2014 7:00:08 PM

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