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

  • 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
  • Thanks for sharing - 11/15/2013 7:40:38 AM
  • Breakfast is difficult for me.I may have a piece of toast,and coffee,now and then a piece of melon but I agree with some of the people that breakfast,if you don't have to to to work, is overrated.I am not losing any weight because I am eating to much but the cravings for food is almost overwhelming and when I do eat I am so hungry I don't even taste the food just gobble it down.I have tried little healthy snacks during the day but I am still ravenous by dinnertime.This morning we are going out to a buffet/brunch and I will try not to eat any dessert or sweets but I do love the prime rib so will have an extra slice of that instead.Portion distortion,what a bummer!! - 11/10/2013 11:21:59 AM
  • My problem is that I don't get enough sleep so I am perpetually hungry to make up for the loss of sleep:-( I know this and haven't changed this pattern. - 9/21/2013 4:39:10 AM
  • If you don't like the look of the smaller-sized plate in front of, make your place setting appear more glamorous as well as larger, by using full size plate as a charger, or a salad plate under your smaller bowl. Fill the space in front of you (and I DON'T mean your belly!) to make things more appealing and less Spartan! - 9/19/2013 7:10:23 PM
  • Dear Hooktontravel, I hear what your saying. But remember when you deprive your body of calories for long periods of time it affects your metabolism. Your calorie burning is likely to slow down because your body/brain isn't sure when you'll fuel it again. Don't continue to send your body into these temporary "deprivation" phases. Fuel regularly with proper nutrition and you're desire to eat a lot will fade away. - 9/19/2013 11:00:45 AM
  • Really great tips. I am saving this ti go back to. You need things like this to fall back on. - 8/12/2013 8:01:09 AM
  • These are all very good tips. I have been meaning to get some smaller plates and bowls for awhile now. They help trick your mind into thinking you are eating more than you really are. I think sometime this week I will go buy some. - 8/11/2013 10:30:32 PM
  • Tracking my food has helped me focus on calories that I take in. I try to eat 3 meals a day and add vegetables or fruit to each. My problem seems to be I always crave crunch stuff so I munch on some crackers. - 8/11/2013 11:19:08 AM

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