Nobody goes to bed skinny and wakes up 50 pounds heavier. Most of us gain weight by eating only 100 to 200 extra calories a day. The trick is to make subtle changes in our environment — changes that cut out those 100 to 200 calories a day — so we gradually alter our eating habits and lose weight. After all, the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.
1. Go Halfsies
There’s nothing like dining out to kill your diet. After all, one decadent dish could contain most of your target calorie intake for the whole day. To stay on track, consider choosing from the smaller portions on the kids’ menu, or divide your food in half once you get it, and ask the server to box up the rest to take home. If your meal is supposed to come with fries, ask if you can substitute a salad instead, even if you have to pay an extra dollar or two. That way, dining out doesn’t have to turn into a diet disaster!
2. Slow Down and Savor
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so if you eat too fast, you’ll end up eating too much. If you’re trying to eat less, it makes sense to enjoy that smaller portion, so take your time. Put down your fork between bites and chew thoroughly. You’ll be much less likely to overeat, and much more likely to lose that weight.
3. Apple Sauce Substitution
When a baking recipe calls for vegetable oil, try substituting half of the oil with applesauce. It’s an easy way to reduce the fat content in your food.
4. Choose Your Carbs Wisely
It’s hard to resist taking something from the bread basket when you’re out to eat. But if you’re looking to lose weight (or just maintain it), choose a hard roll, a piece of French or Italian bread, a wafer, pita bread, or melba toast. These don’t have as much butter or sugar as soft rolls, breadsticks, biscuits, croissants, and muffins.
5. Pepper Your Dishes
Lose weight without lifting a pound! Derived from the plant Capsicum annuum, cayenne pepper has been reported to not only make you lose weight by elevating body temperature, but also to improve circulation and to lower cholesterol. As it’s a mild stimulant, it can also be added to hot water with lemon juice as an alternative to coffee.
6. Stop Your Sweet Tooth
There are two ways to eliminate the craving for sweets (without hitting the fridge). One way is to place a small amount of salt on your tongue and let it slowly dissolve. The second: Mix about a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of warm water, then rinse your mouth out and spit (don’t swallow). The salt or baking soda tends to stimulate the production of saliva, which eliminates your sweet craving.
7. Put a Curb on Cravings
According to experts in Chinese medicine, you can reduce food cravings by learning a simple acupressure technique at the Renzhong point—that little indentation under the nose and above your upper lip. Using your thumb and forefinger, quickly pinch this spot gently and repeatedly for about a minute. Once you finish, those Cheetos you had your eye on in the vending machine should not be so tempting.
8. Satisfy a Sweet Tooth
Trying to lose weight but keep craving something sweet? Keep a bunch of grapes in your fridge and grab a handful when the hunger hits. Grapes release sugar quickly, so they are great for satisfying your sweet tooth. If you don’t feel like the grapes are hitting the spot, wait 10 minutes and see how you feel before reaching for the candy!
9. Yes to Chocolate
If you’re a chocolate junkie but are trying to lose weight, you may be interested to hear that your favorite food may actually help you take off the pounds. Chocolate increases serotonin levels, so it can help lessen depression, stress, and other reasons why you may find yourself wanting to consume more food. The trick? You can only eat 1.4 ounces per day, preferably in the morning. (But hey, that’s better than nothing!) Doctors recommend 70 percent dark chocolate for the biggest weight-loss effects.
10. Low-Calorie Snacking
The easiest way to stay under your diet’s daily calorie limit? Snack all day on low-calorie foods like carrot sticks. You won’t feel the need to eat, and you won’t be consuming too many calories.