For the past few weeks, most of us have been staying home. Perhaps we’re eating more and getting less exercise. If you’re seeing the scales go in the wrong direction—or your kids are eating more than they should, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips for cutting calories without feeling deprived. It’s easy. Once you start looking, you can easily cut calories for your meals, snacks, and even beverages.
You CAN Eat More and Weigh Less!
Fill Up on Low-Calorie Foods
Have you tried to lose weight by cutting down the amount of food you eat? Do you still feel hungry and not satisfied after eating? Or have you avoided trying to lose weight because you’re afraid of feeling hungry all the time?
If so, you are not alone. Many people throw in the towel on weight loss because they feel deprived and hungry when they eat less. But there is another way. Aim for a slow, steady weight loss by decreasing calorie intake while maintaining an adequate nutrient intake and increasing physical activity. You can cut calories without eating less nutritious food. The key is to eat foods that will fill you up without eating high-calorie foods.
Research shows that people get full by the amount of food they eat, not the number of calories they take in. You can cut calories in your favorite foods by lowering the amount of fat and or increasing the amount of fiber-rich ingredients, such as vegetables or fruit.
Let’s take macaroni and cheese as an example. The original recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese. A typical serving has about 540 calories in one serving (1 cup). But you can make a lower-fat, healthier version without sacrificing any flavor. In fact, this one actually tastes better. In your favorite recipe, substitute 2 cups non-fat milk instead of 2 cups whole milk. Use 8 ounces light cream cheese instead of 21⁄4 cups full-fat cheddar cheese. Use 1 tablespoon butter instead of 2. Add about 2 cups of fresh spinach and 1 cup diced tomatoes (or any other veggie you like). Your redesigned mac and cheese now has 315 calories in one serving (1 cup). You can eat the same amount of mac and cheese with 225 fewer calories.
Rethink Your Drink
Substitute Unsweetened Beverages. Add Fruit for Flavor.
When it comes to weight loss, there’s no lack of diets promising fast results. There are low-carb diets, high-carb diets, low-fat diets, grapefruit diets, cabbage soup diets, and blood type diets, to name a few. But no matter what diet you may try, to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than your body uses. Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way to cut calories may be to think about what you drink.
Calories in drinks are not hidden (they’re listed right on the Nutrition Facts label), but many people don’t realize just how many calories beverages can contribute to their daily intake. As you can see in the example below, calories from drinks can really add up. But there is good news: you have plenty of options for reducing the number of calories in what you drink.
On your morning coffee shop run, choose a small café latte (12 ounces) made with fat-free milk (125 calories) vs. a medium café latte (16 ounces) made with whole milk (265 calories). At lunchtime opt for a bottle of water or diet soda (0 cal.) vs. a 20-oz. bottle of non-diet cola with (227 cal.).
For an afternoon break choose unsweetened sparkling water with natural lemon flavor (0 cal.) vs. sweetened lemon iced tea (16 ounces) from the vending machine (180 cal.). For dinner choose water with a slice of lemon or lime, or seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice (0 cal. for water w/fruit slice, or about 30 cal. for seltzer water with a splash of juice) vs. a 12-oz. glass of non-diet ginger ale (124 cal.) Total net calorie savings: 640 calories. That’s huge!
Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls
Tips for Avoiding Excessive Eating
When eating at many restaurants, it’s hard to miss that portion sizes have gotten larger in the last few years. The trend has also spilled over into the grocery store and vending machines, where bagels have doubled in size and an “individual” bag of chips can easily feed more than one. Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions. This can mean significant excess calorie intake, especially when eating high-calorie foods. Here are some tips to help you avoid some common portion-size pitfalls.
Portion control when eating out.
Many restaurants serve more food than one person needs at one meal. Take control of the amount of food that ends up on your plate by splitting an entrée with a friend. Or, ask your server for a “to-go” box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it’s brought to the table.
Portion control when eating in.
To minimize the temptation of second and third helpings when eating at home, serve the food on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keeping the excess food out of reach may discourage overeating.
Portion control in front of the TV.
When eating or snacking in front of the TV, put the amount that you plan to eat into a bowl or container instead of eating straight from the package. It’s easy to overeat when your attention is focused on something else.
Go ahead, spoil your dinner.
We learned as children not to snack before a meal for fear of “spoiling our dinner.” Well, it’s time to forget that old rule. If you feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or small salad, to avoid overeating during your next meal.
Be aware of large packages.
For some reason, the larger the package, the more people consume from it without realizing it. To minimize this effect try dividing up the contents of one large package into several smaller containers. Also don’t eat straight from the package. Instead, serve the food in a small bowl or container.
Out of sight, out of mind.
People tend to consume more when they have easy access to food. Make your home a “portion friendly zone.”
Replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl.
Fruit satisfies your sweet tooth and is low in calories and full of satisfying nutrients.
Keep healthy food handy.
Store especially tempting foods, like cookies, chips, or ice cream, out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move the healthier food to the front at eye level.
Convenience (or lack of) is key.
When buying in bulk, store the excess in a place that’s not convenient to get to, such as a high cabinet or at the back of the pantry.
For more healthy eating tips, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/recipes.html
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention