To eat less calories daily, you will need to make a change in your lifestyle and the way that you think and act regarding food. Stop thinking of food as a pleasurable reward or a way to relieve stress. Think of food simply as fuel. Find other ways to reward yourself other than food and other ways to fight the ravages of stress other than through eating. Use comfort activities such as exercise, sports, massage, reading a good book, playing games, talking to a friend, playing with a pet or performing your favorite hobby as your path to reduce stress and reward yourself. Visual imagery can be very helpful when you are trying to make a change in your normal habits (see Visual Imagery page).
Excess fat stored in your body can be used as fuel for energy, but not if you are constantly pushing more fuel (food) down your throat. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories (exercise) than you take in from your food. Eating a large meal or a high calorie treat doesn’t give your body enough time to burn all those calories you just took in, so the excess is stored as fat. Unless you plan on running a marathon after you eat, make sure to eat smaller portions at each meal.
Eat when you are hungry, not just because it is convenient, or you are bored.
Distract yourself with activities: play with kids and pets, favorite hobby, clean house, garden.
Avoid eating while watching TV as this may distract you and cause you to eat more.
Visual imagery: imagine a high calorie food as repulsive and salads/vegetables as delightful.
Reduce the size of each meal by 25%. Use a smaller plate for your meals.
Eat slowly to give your body time to feel full (takes 20 minutes for your brain to signal “full”).
Leave uneaten food on your plate. Don’t force yourself to eat calories you don’t need.
Brush your teeth right after dinner to help avoid late night snacks before bedtime.
Use a weight-loss mantra: “Just a few more pounds to lose, I can do this, be strong.”
Be mindful and aware of what you eat at each meal and what you order at restaurants.
Good to eat/drink
Healthy low-calorie snacks can help you drastically reduce the size of each meal.
More protein to increase your sense of fullness and more muscle mass = increased metabolism at rest.
High-fiber foods. Fiber is good for your digestion and gives you a sense of fullness.
One slice of bread, instead of two, for an open-faced sandwich.
Veggies, lots of them. The bulk of the vegetables will help you feel full.
Water, instead of soft drinks, throughout the day.
Two cups of water right before a meal. This will add to your sense of fullness.
Try simply eating a salad and an appetizer
Order small portions or share a meal with a friend. Ask for a "to-go" box when you order.
Be mindful of the massive calories included with appetizer, bread and butter, entrée, side dishes, dessert and wine. Start eliminating some courses.
Foods to avoid
Comfort foods - replace with comfort activities: exercise, game, favorite hobby, book, bath, etc.
Butter and mayonnaise – replace with mustard or hummus.
Cheese, fried foods and high-fructose corn syrup.
Dessert - replace with fruit or low-fat yogurt and then with a mint or sugar-free gum.
Potato chips – replace with whole grain crackers.
Protein. Choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
Fruits. Eat a variety of fresh, canned or frozen fruits.
Vegetables. Eat a variety of fresh, canned or frozen vegetables. A variety of vegetables should include dark green, red, yellow and orange.
Grains. Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or rice (brown or wild).
Dairy. Eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
(Reference: Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
*Canned fruits and vegetables: canned fruits and vegetables can be convenient and inexpensive, but be mindful that the heat from the canning process will lower the vitamin C levels. In addition, canned foods often have additives such as salt, sugar or heavy syrup. If fresh fruit or vegetables is not an option, look for food packed in water and stay away from unnecessary additives.