Nutrition Articles

9 Simple Tricks to Eat Less

Cut Calories, Not Satisfaction

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Your mother was right about some things: Your eyes really can be bigger than your stomach. Research has shown that when people use large bowls, plates and serving utensils, they serve themselves more and consume more food. In a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 85 nutrition professionals were asked to serve themselves a bowl of ice cream. Researchers provided a variety of bowl and spoon sizes. Subjects with larger bowls served themselves 31% more ice cream; when they used a large spoon, they dished 14.5% more into their bowls. Although the super-sized plates may look slick, put those away for special occasions. When you see a large canvas, you want to fill it! ACTION TIP: Eat from smaller salad plates and small bowls for daily use. Without even realizing it, you'll serve and eat less. If your dinnerware is oversized, it might be time for new dishes that won't dwarf your properly portioned meals.

3. Pre-portion your foods.
How often do you eat straight from the bag of crackers or chips? How is it possible to track your food or know how much you eat without measuring it? That's just one reason you should never eat directly from a box or bag that contains multiple servings of a food. Grab your measuring cups and a small bowl (see #2 above) to keep your calories in check. Why? Because it's easy to overeat when you're reaching into a bottomless bag of food. ACTION TIP: Instead of reaching into the chip bag or a big bowl of chips at a party, pre-portion your snacks into a smaller container (or plate) so you know exactly how much you're eating. Then, put the big bag away (or walk away from the chip bowl). You are much less likely to overeat enjoy the smaller portion you served yourself. So dish it up, put the rest away, and taste every bite (see #1 above).

4. Know your pitfalls.
We all have food weaknesses. That food that you can't resist. The food you can't stop eating once you started. The food you have trouble saying no to, even if you're not hungry. The food you think about even when it's not in the vicinity. Maybe you'll never shake the grip this food has you on, but the first step is recognizing it. Take a minute to think about your food weaknesses. Once you know what they are, you can take extra measures to prevent overeating these particular foods, whether you avoid repeated exposure to this food or plan the rest of your day's intake planning to enjoy a bit of this favorite food. ACTION TIP: Make a list of your food weaknesses and the places you encounter them. Come up with solutions to avoid those encounters, like not venturing down the snack food aisle in the grocery store or choosing a different route to bypass the co-worker who always offers free doughnuts. Stick with your plan of avoidance until you build up the strength to face that food without giving up your control.
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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

  • 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
  • I've done all of the suggestions at one time or another and they all work in most cases.

    I understand the smaller plate concept which is an excellent way for some, but I do continue to use the larger dinner plates but spread out the food and garnish with a low cal relish, salsa or raw veggies modeling my approach after nicer restaurants who 'present' their foods.

    I also bought some pretty glass dessert dishes (a perfect 1/2 cup size) at yard sales and use them when I want a dessert. I feel like it is more special than just dessert, it is an experience. I'll make a cup of coffee and set down with my fancy dessert and feel like savoring the moment.

    Great article. - 8/17/2014 8:10:49 PM
  • This is a very informative article. I appreciate the pre portioning suggestion so much so that I even recycle kiosk containers, solely for measuring my 5 oz. servings. Usually starches are my pitfall and I rarely buy them. I have a weakness for rice, bread,p pastas, corn; however after learning and observing that the niacin content was affecting me with a burning sensation on my skin, I decided to eliminate them those foods from diet entirely. I agree with your informative statement that protein increases the sensation of fullness because of that filling sensation I consume large quantities of yogert, beans and occasionally egg whites or cottage chees - 7/7/2014 12:37:20 AM
  • I have gone through the 30 day meal planner and I enjoyed the variety of meals especially the breakfast and lunch meals, and the variety of snacks. In fact I enjoyed the whole thing and did it again for the second month. It was so east to look ahead and see what was needed to have in for groceries and look the night before what I was having the next day.
    Well, done would do it over again. Thank you
    - 2/28/2014 8:46:25 PM
  • I always eat breakfast. I look forward to it because I don't eat at night. I think that is the secret. It's important because eating protein/fat/fiber for breakfast jump starts your metabolism and keeps you feeling full until lunch. I'm retired but still like to keep active so I need that fuel. - 12/8/2013 8:44:12 AM

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