1. Watch high calorie, high-fat “add ons” like mayonnaise, salad dressing and butter. A mere tablespoon of mayonnaise, oil, butter, or high-fat salad dressing adds about 100 calories. In terms of hunger, most people would not miss the mayonnaise on a sandwich, but it is often the little extras like this that can make weight loss difficult. “I’m not really eating that much.” Maybe you are not eating a high volume of food, but the calories are densely packed in the foods you choose.
2. Watch the high calorie beverages. It is so easy to drink calories – they slide down so easily! Check out the 20 Worst Drinks in America 2010. Are there some opportunities for you here?
3. Add vegetables to entrees, soups, anything! I never get rid of leftover vegetables. They can reduce the calorie density of anything. Just cut down the size of a higher calorie dish (ie. lasagna, mac ‘n cheese, etc.) and mix in a good portion of vegetables. Voila! You have just made a big difference in the number of calories on your plate.
4. Add fruit to desserts. Fruit has fewer calories than most desserts. Adding fruit to your ice cream, on top of cake, or with a couple of cookies will allow you to “have your cake and eat it too”. By shrinking the higher calorie part of dessert and adding fruit (lower calorie), the total calorie cost of treating yourself is lower. Example: A typical piece of chocolate cake is about 500 calories. Half of that with a cup of sliced strawberries is only about 300. With super-rich desserts like pecan pie or cheesecake, if you don’t feel like the fruit idea, you would still be better off if you cut down the size of the dessert portion and added a small scoop of low-fat ice cream.
5. Eat whole grains instead of more processed products. More fiber means you will feel fuller on the same number of calories. Brown rice and white rice may have similar calorie contents, but brown rice will digest slower, which means that your hunger will not return as quickly.
6. Have a salad AND a vegetable with your dinner. This is a great strategy for weight control and health. I have to give my husband credit for this habit in our lives, because it is the way he ate before I met him. If you do this every night, it is easy to get more fruit and vegetable servings than most people.
7. Eat at least 4 times a day, preferably 5 or 6. Work with your daily schedule to eat frequently enough to avoid being over-hungry. This is when most people are most vulnerable to overeating.
8. Eat some high-protein foods throughout the day. Protein seems to satisfy hunger beyond what can be explained by volume alone. Without enough, you may feel like you cannot fill up. No need to overdo it. Just choose a little protein at all, or most, meals and snacks. High protein foods include meat, chicken, fish, yogurt, milk, beans, cottage cheese, cheese and eggs.
9. Like what you choose – choose what you like! I don’t care how low calorie a food is, food you do not like is a waste of calories. I happen to love rice cakes, but if you think they taste like cardboard, there is really no need to eat them.
10. Eat enough, and then go on with your day. If you think about anything all the time, it will take on more importance in your life than it deserves. Enjoy your food, satisfy your hunger, and then get your mind on something else.