Nutrition Articles

9 Simple Tricks to Eat Less

Cut Calories, Not Satisfaction

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8. Doggy bag it.
Portions served at most restaurants set you up for overeating. Sure, we want a good deal for our money, but it often comes at the price—our health. A full meal can contain more than 1,200 calories at some eateries, and that’s before dessert. Even if you have the best intentions to eat only half of your meal when it arrives, it can be hard to stop or know when you've reached the halfway point—especially if you're distracted while talking with friends and family. ACTION TIP: Take your good intentions one step further. Ask your server to pack up half of your meal before it hits the table. That way, you'll stop when you're halfway done and still have leftovers for tomorrow. It works because it's a clear "stop sign" in your meal (like #3 above) and most people aren't likely to dig into their doggy bag or take-out box before leaving the restaurant.

9. Eat breakfast.
People say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for good reason. Studies show that people who eat breakfast have a lower BMI (body mass index) and consume fewer total calories each day than people who skip breakfast altogether. A professor at the University of Texas found that eating earlier in the day leads to lower total intake throughout the day. A common explanation is that eating breakfast allows a person to feel less hungry throughout the day. Another is that those who skip breakfast allow for “extra calories” later in the day because they skipped a meal, but in reality end up overshooting their energy goal. Whatever the reason, eating breakfast IS part of a healthy lifestyle and an important factor in healthy weight maintenance. ACTION TIP: Many people simply don't "feel hungry" in the morning or don't like how breakfast makes them feel. Start small. You CAN retrain your body to feel hungry and enjoy breakfast. Soon, you'll wonder how you ever skipped breakfast in the first place! Start with these quick and healthy breakfast ideas.


With these tools as your defense, you’ll be on your way to a healthy weight in no time! Jot them down in your journal or keep them on a small sticky note to refer to when you’re out. With a little practice, you’ll finally be able to control your calorie intake without feeling deprived—or hungry!

Selected Sources
De Castro, John. "When, how much and what foods are eaten are related to total daily food intake." Br J Nutr. 2009 Aug (4): 1-10.

Westerterp-Plantenga MS. "The significance of protein in food intake and body weight regulation." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2003 Nov (6): 635 - 8.

Wansink B, Van Ittersum K, Painter JE. "Ice cream illusions: bowls, spoons and self-served portion sizes." American Journal of Preventitve Medicine. 2006 Sep 31 (3): 240-3
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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

  • 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
  • "Enjoy every bite!" How often do we eat and not even think or taste what we are eating.
    When I truly savor each bite it is amazing how much less i will eat.
    barb - 8/11/2013 9:50:33 AM

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