Big, dramatic changes to your diet may help you lose weight initially, but those changes usually aren’t sustainable. This can cause yo-yo dieting, which can damage your metabolism, not to mention your motivation. The best way to lose weight and actually keep it off is to make simple changes you can maintain for life. Sure, we know some behavioral tricks like putting healthier foods in easy-to-reach places, brushing your teeth after eating and not even testing our willpower by bringing trigger foods home.
Here are three ways to get started:
SIT DOWN AND USE REAL PLATES
While you might be tempted to nibble on a handful of chips while standing up in your kitchen, you’ll eat significantly less if you sit down and put your food on real plates. In a recent study from the journal Appetite, people were given pasta, then offered snacks. Those who ate pasta from a container while standing ingested more food and calories than those who sat and ate pasta from a plate.
“Sitting down makes you more mindful of what you are eating, and so you register it as food, which makes you less likely to eat later on,” says study author Jane Ogden, PhD, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey in England, author of “The Psychology of Dieting”.
START MEALS WITH WATER-DENSE FOODS
Proper hydration is important for overall health and can aid in weight loss. To feel full for longer, consume water-dense foods such as soup, salad or fruit at the beginning of a meal.
“You get more prolonged filling of the stomach if the water is bound into the food,” explains nutrition sciences professor Barbara Rolls, PhD, director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Penn State University. A study she led found people who were given chicken-rice casserole and a glass of water at the start of a meal ate more afterward than people who also had a glass of water but ate chicken-rice soup containing the same ingredients as the casserole.
USE FORKS OVER SPOONS
If you reach for spoons, not forks, to eat things like macaroni, rice or beans, you may be likely to weigh more, according to an Australian study. Researchers found when people chose spoons to consume foods which could be eaten with either a fork or spoon, they ate more food per bite and per meal — and spoon users generally had higher BMIs.
“With the spoon, you can fit a lot more on it, eat quicker and eat more,” says Susan Levy, RD. “The message doesn’t reach your brain until after 20 minutes of putting that first bite into your mouth. Thus, you can consume more calories in a short amount of time, which will add up over time.”
To eat less, opt for forks in either-or situations, and eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. To slow down even more, try using chopsticks for dishes like stir-fries and pasta.