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

  • Having a large selection of containers and plastic bags helps, along with a digital scale, especially if you're the only human in the house. (People who live with other people don't have the same problems since food can be eaten up by the others right after preparation, although if they need to eat differently then my approach can help.)

    The cups from Mott's natural applesauce are perfect for reuse. They have straight sides so they are easy to clean. I can spoon ice cream loosely into them and get the portion size I really do best with, about half the indicated serving size. Just put the container on the scale, tare, and stop adding when I reach the grams I actually want to eat. They're great for other things as well, such as various types of chips or nuts or seeds or dried fruit or cereal. I also have some ceramic bowls with about the same capacity, but can't beat the price on the recycled applesauce containers... Having small containers makes it easier to learn how to eyeball your servings of such things also when you don't feel like weighing.

    Sometimes I'll actually preportion ice cream into 2oz freezer containers sold for baby food. But I don't need to do that with nondairy ice cream (thank you Ben & Jerry for now making it!) because without the allergenic dairy trigger, I am not stimulated to go overboard on it. So what you need to preportion also depends on your particular eating habits.

    I use cheapie sandwich bags to portion out cookies, parts of bars or donuts or pies etc. , candy, popcorn-type snacks etc. before I eat any. Most of it goes into the freezer, those that don't are kept fresher that way, reducing the feeling of "gotta eat it before it goes stale". For example, 1/2 or 1/3 of a serving might make more sense for me so I just fill the bags accordingly and twist and knot the bag to seal. Then when I do want something, I just grab the small bag. Huge cookies or similar things in individual packages get broken into pieces in the package and put in the freezer before opening and might be repackaged when I go to eat t... - 6/12/2016 4:02:15 PM
  • @RWOMMACK Lol, you made my day with that time zone thing :) This verified forskolin you have mentioned really helped me. i lost like 35 pounds in three month and 100000 pounds to go, lol.
    Speaking about garcinia, donít even spend your money on that. I tried it 2 years go with literally 0 results
    - 5/10/2016 7:34:07 PM
  • RWOMMACK
    I've been size 10 all my life without even trying a lot. Recently I hit my 40th birthday. And now i can see that iím starting to gain weight. Soon i will need my personal time zone. My metabolism is getting slower i guess. i hate working out so decided to give weight loss supplements a shot. But there are so manyÖ. My friend which is a dietitian said that www.verified-fors
    kolin.com is the best since it's verified by a lot of studies. Maybe somebody tried it? Or should i try garcinia? - 5/10/2016 6:43:20 PM
  • 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

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