When it comes to healthy weight management, small steps add up. In fact, little changes in eating and activity level have a more positive impact on health than drastic ones. This is because you are more likely to stick with smaller changes over time. Extreme diets and intensive exercise regimens may work well at first, but they rarely last over the long term.
Healthy weight is all about balancing food intake with physical activity. Most of us could improve our energy balance by shaving just 100 calories a day off our usual intake. It’s not difficult:
- Lighten up your favorite coffee drink with non-fat milk and sugar-free syrup.
- Trim all fat from beef, pork and chicken. Remove the skin from poultry.
- Dish up slow-churned, reduced-calorie ice cream in place of regular.
- Enjoy raw vegetables with salsa or fat-free ranch dip instead of chips.
Small Changes Add Up
Here are more great ideas that will cut calories from your daily intake, possibly without your even noticing:
- Downsize Your Dishes. Use smaller plates and bowls to help you eat less. We tend to fill up the dish we’re using and then eat it all. Our brains also think we are getting more when the same amount of food is placed in a smaller dish.
- Savor Your Meals. Eating slowly helps you consume only what your body needs to feel satisfied. Eating too quickly, in less than 20 to 30 minutes, leads to overeating and feeling uncomfortably full afterwards.
- Leave Some Food on Your Plate. This is especially important if you grew up in the “clean plate club.” By leaving even a few bites, you can focus more on your internal signals of satisfaction and less on eating food just because it is there.
- Don’t Eat Out of a Bag or Box. When you eat out of a package, you are likely to keep eating until it’s all gone – no matter how many servings the package actually contains. Pour one serving into a small bowl.
- Choose Your Glass Wisely. Here’s another place where our eyes play tricks on us. When glasses are short and wide, we tend to fill them with more fluid and to drink more. Use a slender glass for any beverage except water.
- Rethink Your Drinks. High-calorie beverages like soft drinks, juice drinks, energy drinks, specialty coffees and alcohol add calories just like solid foods. Whenever possible, replace these drinks with plenty of water.
Written by Saundra Gaskey, RD, Director of Nutrition Services at Hale Makua Health Services