Drink a glass of water before you dive in to a calorie-laden snack. Sometimes thirst can be confused with hunger, so if you drink water first you may feel less hungry. Herbal tea (unsweetened) and flavored sparking water are good options if you're craving more than plain water.
After dinner is the most common time to indulge in mindless eating. Sitting in front of the TV, you don't pay attention to the number of calories you consume. Try forbidding nighttime snacking, or plan for a low-calorie snack (such as half a cup of lowfat ice cream or a 100-calorie pack of cookies) at a certain time.
Moderation is the key to enjoying rich foods. You don't have to eliminate them completely, but you can try buying only a small portion of candy instead of a bag or buying one fresh bakery cookie rather than a full box.
It's hard to cut calories when you're always hungry. People who eat four to five small meals a day report less hunger and are better equipped to control their weight. Divide your daily food consumption into small meals and snacks and spread them throughout the day. Try to eat more, earlier; make dinner the last time you eat in the day.
Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, plus, it keeps you feeling full for a longer time. Protein is also important for maintenance of muscle mass. Choose healthy proteins such as lean meats, seafood, egg whites, soy, nuts, beans, or yogurt and lowfat dairy products.
Flavorful foods can also help you feel satisfied and full. You may not eat as much if the food is full of flavor. Spices or chilies can help season your food, or try eating a red-hot fireball candy if you're craving a sweet.
Stock up your kitchen with healthy snacks and ingredients in advance. If you know you have the makings of a quick, healthy meal at home, you can avoid the fast-food line. Some good staples to keep on hand include whole-grain pasta and breads, frozen vegetables, lowfat cheese, canned beans and tomatoes, salad greens, and pre-cooked chicken breasts.
Ordering children's portions in restaurants is a popular way to keep consumption to a reasonable level. Using smaller plates to make your portions appear bigger is a similar tactic. You're more likely to feel satisfied when your plate looks full.
Swapping one portion of starch (about a cup) for vegetables saves about 100-200 calories. Doing this for a year can lead to a full drop in dress or pants size.
Skipping breakfast is a bad idea for those seeking to lose weight. Some studies show that skipping breakfast makes weight loss more difficult, since it leads to hunger and potential overeating later on in the day. Healthy breakfast choices include high-fiber grain cereals, lowfat milk and dairy products, and fruit.
Most Americans don't consume enough fiber. It's recommended women get about 25 grams a day, while men should consume about 38 grams. Fiber has a range of health benefits. It assists with digestion, lowers cholesterol levels, and prevents constipation. Fiber can also help those on a weight-loss plan by making you feel more full. Dietary sources of fiber include beans, whole grains, and oatmeal, as well as vegetables and fruits.
Weight loss is even harder when you are faced with the presence of forbidden or unhealthy foods. Clear your pantry of fattening foods, and if you want an occasional treat, pick it up on your daily walk.
A realistic weight-loss goal is to lose about 1-2 pounds a week. Just as it takes time to put on weight, it also takes time to take it off. Don't expect instant or overly fast results. Elevated expectations can only set you up for disappointment and giving up. Health benefits begin when you've lost just 5%-10% of your body weight.
Those who weigh themselves regularly tend to do better with weight loss, but don't weigh yourself every day. Daily fluctuations can lead to discouragement. Weigh yourself once a week at the same time of day, ideally in the same type of clothing and on the same scale.
Sleep deprivation causes hormonal imbalance that can make weight loss more difficult. Specifically, lack of sleep leads to high levels of ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite. Likewise, leptin (a hormone that signals when you are full) is produced in low levels when sleep is lacking. You'll feel healthier -- and fuller -- if you get adequate sleep.
Forget the supersize mindset. Use measuring cups and a kitchen scale to measure your portion sizes for the first couple of weeks. Using smaller plates and glasses can make it easier to limit yourself to realistic portion sizes. Restaurant meals can be split into two portions, and snack foods should be portioned out in advance. Never snack directly from a large container of food.
Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. If you eat more of these nutritious foods, you will feel full because they are high in water and fiber. This is one instance in which eating more food can help with weight loss.
Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is known as a source of "empty calories" because it provides calories without nutritional benefit. A bottle of beer has around 153 calories; a glass of wine has around 125. Enjoy alcoholic drinks on weekends only, with one daily drink for women and no more than two for men.
Chewing sugar-free gum can help with cravings and help reduce hunger. Fresh breath is an added benefit. Sugar-free gum shouldn't replace your regular healthy food choices though -- and don't overdo it. Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol sometimes used to make sugar-free gum, can cause diarrhea in some cases.
The act of recording -- in writing -- what you eat makes you more aware of what, how much, and when you are eating. The end result is usually a reduced caloric intake due to heightened awareness. Studies also show that regularly keeping a food diary can lead to greater weight loss than that observed in people who did not keep a diary.
Treat yourself when you hit milestones and goals. Set small, attainable goals, and reward yourself for meeting them. Reward yourself with a purchase or activity, but don't succumb to the temptation to reward yourself with food.
Encourage your family and loved ones to help you lose weight. They may be able to join you in adopting a healthier lifestyle. They can also cheer you on when you feel discouraged and talk you out of giving up.
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- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans."
- Medscape: "Obesity Treatment and Management"