20 Easy Ways to Cut Calories

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20 Easy Ways to Cut Calories

Written by Erin Whitehead, Health and Fitness Writer

The surefire solution for weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume by exercising and eating less. But as anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows, ''eating less'' isn't always easy. Luckily, these tips and tricks will help you enjoy your food, consume fewer calories and help you train your brain to stop when you're satisfied--not stuffed!


Ditch the Bag

When youíve got a hankering for potato chips or another snack, donít just mindlessly eat from the bag or box. Instead, portion out a single serving into a small bowl. This way, you know exactly how much youíre eating and arenít left mindlessly munching until the bag is empty.

Give Your Utensil a Rest

In the rush of daily life, it can be easy to see mealtime as just another to-do. But rushing through meals can make you eat too much since it takes your brain awhile to register that your stomach is getting full. Put down your fork between bites to take your time and really savor your food. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Stopping when you're satisfied, not full, will make you feel better in the long run. Use this guide to gauge your hunger and fullness levels.

Eat Before You Go

If you're going out to a party or restaurant where you know you'll be tempted to overeat, have a small snack before you leave the house. This way, you won't be ravenous when you're faced with a menu or buffet full of tempting treats and will be able to make more rational decisions.

Mini-Meal It

It has been suggested that eating five or six mini meals could help reduce blood sugar swings and curb out-of-control hunger. Some people prefer this method, while others like to stick with three square meals a day. Try experimenting to see what works for you!

Start with Soup

When youíre out to dinner, start with a broth-based soup. Broth soups are lower in calories than creamy options and will take the edge off your hunger before your meal arrives.

Minimize Distractions

One recent study found that spending more time in front of the television leads to a higher consumption of unhealthy snacks and drinks. Be sure to skip the reruns while youíre noshing, and don't forget about other distractions like your smartphone or computer. You can tweet about your meal when you're finished with it. Find out if you're a distracted diner here.

Drink Up

Itís common to confuse thirst with hunger, so make sure you stay hydrated during the day. If you think you may not be truly hungry, drink a glass of water first and wait a few minutes. Often, the water will hit the spot if you're only thirsty, but hunger will intensify the longer you wait. Either way, studies have shown that drinking water before you eat a meal may also help you eat less overall.

Listen to Your Stomach

It can be easy to set your eating schedule by the clock, but this sometimes means that youíre eating a meal when youíre not actually hungry. This tactic only further confuses our bodies and inhibits us from noticing and responding to true feelings of hunger and fullness. Instead, make a concerted effort to listen to what your body is telling you when mealtime rolls around. You may find that youíre not even hungry and are just eating out of habit! Once you do start feeling those tummy twinges, get your chow on.

Leave Enough for Leftovers

Sometimes a meal is so delicious that you have a hard time calling it quits. But remind yourself that what you donít eat now will be available for leftovers later. Your future self will be very excited that your past self showed a little restraint!

Out of Sight, Out of Mouth

If you keep a food in sight, especially a tempting one, you're more likely to eat it. So donít keep sweet treats or trigger foods in plain sight. Hide that candy jar on your desk, and place treats or snack foods on the highest shelf out of sight in your pantry. It's easier to avoid temptation when it's not staring back at you every time you open the cupboard.

Avoid Eating On the Go

When you eat on the run or in your car, you're more likely to grab convenience foods (think high calorie and fast-food items). If at all possible, try to eat at home. A recent nutrition study suggests that people eat healthier meals in the comfort of their own homes. Stock your kitchen with healthy items you can grab in a hurry so that you don't have to take desperate measures away from home.

Buy a Junior-Size Portion

If you do have to hit up fast-food to cope with your craving for a burger or fries, choose the regular hamburger or even the junior or kids sizes. You'll satisfy your craving without indulging in a caloric disaster.

Use Smaller Plates

Dinner plates have expanded in diameter over the years, and so have our waistlines. Filling a larger plate can cause you to scoop up (and eat) larger portions. Downsize your dinner plate to trick your eye and brain into eating less.

Focus on the Company

The next time you sit down to a meal with family or friends, slow down your eating and really contribute to the conversation at the table rather than letting it become secondary to your meal. This will give your brain time to register that you're getting full and you will naturally consume less food, all while getting in some quality face time with the ones you care about.

Get a To-Go Box

When at a restaurant, ask the server to bring a to-go box at the same time he or she delivers your meal. Restaurant meals are notoriously large in portion size and calories, but it can be hard to resist eating everything on your plate. Pack up half of your meal as soon as it's served and you'll automatically save half the calories and fat (plus stretch your dollars and have a delicious meal for dinner or lunch the next day)!

Split Your Meal

If you feel weird about boxing up your meal when it's served, plan to split your entree with a dinner partner when dining out. You may have to pay a "split meal" fee, but better than splitting your pants seams, right?

Stall Before Serving Seconds

When youíve finished eating, but still feeling hungry for more, wait. Give yourself five minutes to let your fullness level register with your brain. If youíre still hungry when the timeís up, go back for a modest portion.

Skip the Alcohol

When you're out with friends, it can be easy to sip on alcohol, lose your inhibitions and start throwing your healthy eating habits out the window--not to mention that alcohol calories add no nutritional value to your diet. So drink in moderation and alternate each drink with water, or skip the alcohol altogether and remain strong in your healthy eating convictions!

Stop Before You're Stuffed

By the time your brain registers the fact that you're full, you're often too full. To avoid overfilling the tank, stop pumping before you hit the full mark, so to speak. Eat only until you're no longer hungry-- not until you're so stuffed that you have to add a notch to your belt.

Sacrifice Soda-- Even Diet Soda

Some studies show that drinking diet soda can still put you at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, while triggering your appetite and sugar cravings. If you get thirsty, water is always the best choice! Add in a splash of 100% fruit juice to spruce it up.

Start Making Changes Today!

The easiest way to start eating less is to implement a variety of simple changes that you can stick with for the long haul. That, plus a little patience and planning, will go a long way in helping you cut down your calorie intake to reach your weight-loss goals.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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LOSTLIME

8/8/2013 10:55:59 AM

LOSTLIME's SparkPage
thank you for the info

BOROFITGIRL

8/8/2013 10:11:47 AM

BOROFITGIRL's SparkPage
Thanks for these great tips!!!

APONI_KB

8/8/2013 8:32:13 AM

APONI_KB's SparkPage
LOOK how neat and orderly that fridge and pantry were in the pictures. Oh yea my kitchen totally look like that. ha-ha

JUDY1260

8/8/2013 8:23:59 AM

JUDY1260's SparkPage
There's a lot more to it than "burn more calories than you consume." Your body needs a certain amount of calories just to function. By function I mean for your organs to do their job, your lungs to breathe, your heart to beat, your body to rest, etc. Drop below that because someone tells you to "eat less, move more" and your body will fight weight loss. Keep your body happy by consuming enough calories to maintain your BMR plus fuel your workouts. SparkPeople suggested 1200-1500 calories for me. I kept mine at the high end and lost nothing. I increased to 1400-1700 and started losing after just a few days of fueling my body. increasing was as simple as having 1 tbsp of PB with my banana and/or adding 1 or 2 slices of precooked bacon to my eggs - both decent sources of protein as well. Speaking of nutrients - don't forget that your body needs healthy fats. If you try to eliminate fat because you think it's the enemy you'll deprive your body of a very important nutrient that it needs to function.

LPPTOGO

7/31/2013 12:35:00 PM

LPPTOGO's SparkPage
Great tips here. I especially like #16, and have been doing this recently. When I box 1/2 of my meal BEFORE beginning to eat, it's then "out of sight, out of mind". The following day, I enjoy a tasty lunch, and as the article says, it does "stretch the dollars".

LPPTOGO

7/31/2013 12:34:59 PM

LPPTOGO's SparkPage
Great tips here. I especially like #16, and have been doing this recently. When I box 1/2 of my meal BEFORE beginning to eat, it's then "out of sight, out of mind". The following day, I enjoy a tasty lunch, and as the article says, it does "stretch the dollars".

MCASKEY6

7/30/2013 4:42:00 PM

MCASKEY6's SparkPage
I always try to remind myself that, there is no law preventing me from eating more later. I don't have to stuff myself for fear that I will become hungry later.
Also number 3 is SO true. Stop and really smell the fruit before you eat it, take smaller bites and really taste the food. It makes the whole experience much more satisfying.

JWASHINGT1

7/30/2013 1:22:16 PM

JWASHINGT1's SparkPage
Really helpful !! It's also a good reminder of thing you tend to forget.

OZIETWIN

6/30/2013 8:55:24 AM

OZIETWIN's SparkPage
Great visual reminders!

FITGIRL2K14

5/26/2013 12:44:32 PM

FITGIRL2K14's SparkPage
Amazingly informative article!!! Thank you for this! =D

AKELLERMA

2/27/2013 1:48:29 PM

my first time here not sure even if i can get back just wanted to say hello i hope this will help me nothing esle has

CFULLER85

2/19/2013 12:26:02 PM

CFULLER85's SparkPage
Maybe the reason some ppl can see it but others of us can't... Maybe it works on the computer, but not on mobile devices. Just a thought, i haven't checked.

LCRUMLEY81

1/31/2013 9:36:14 AM

LCRUMLEY81's SparkPage
great ideas thanks

KATHY1717

1/18/2013 10:50:03 PM

Some good tips. Thanks

DMANNG

1/6/2013 8:23:48 PM

Sideshow doesn't work.

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