Permanent alterations in your lifelong attitudes toward diet and exercise are the keys to successful weight management. Here are seven no-nonsense strategies to help you eat more moderately, yet feel satisfied.
Clean your plate! It’s a mantra in America, and a contributor to the ever-increasing weight problem. Unfortunately, our plates have gotten bigger! A major part of the weight problem is portion sizes, which have grown substantially over the past four decades: A Coke has increased from 6.5 to 20 fl oz. or more, a bagel from 2-3 to 4-6 oz., and a chocolate bar from 1 to 1.5-8 oz.
Another part of the weight problem is satiety; we often just don’t feel full when we control our calories. According to researcher Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a nutritionist at Pennsylvania State University and co-author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan, “Satiety is the missing ingredient in weight management. Cut calories simply by eating less and you’ll feel hungry and deprived.”
Here are some weight control strategies for controlling your portion sizes while still eating enough to feel satisfied.
Weight Control Tip 1 — Know Your Portion Sizes. There’s a difference between serving size and portion size. A serving is a standard amount of food containing a set amount of calories; a portion is what you actually put on your plate. So a portion could be a lot more than a single serving — and therefore contain a lot more calories than you might expect.
Weight Control Tip 2 — Check Food Labels Closely. You can’t assume a package contains a single serving just because the label lists calorie and nutrient information for one serving. Look for the number of servings per package (it’s listed directly under the serving size) to determine the true calorie count.
Weight Control Tip 3 — Divide and Conquer. Research shows that the bigger the plate, bag, or container of food, the bigger your eyes — and it appears that the eyes have more control over how much you eat than your stomach.
Weight Control Tip 4 — Go High Fiber, High Water. Eat foods that have a high water and/or high fiber content and are low in fat. This is the key concept behind Dr. Rolls’ Volumetrics approach. Soups, salads, stews, casseroles, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk, cooked grains, and beans are all good choices. These “wet” foods have a low energy density — meaning the water and fiber they contain will fill you up with a small amount of calories — as opposed to “dry” foods like cookies, cereal, and crackers, which have a high energy density.
Weight Control Tip 5 — Start Meals with Soup or Salad. Dr. Rolls has found that people tend to eat less when they precede a meal with a low calorie soup or salad (with fat-free dressing).
Weight Control Tip 6 — Eat a Variety of Foods. Dr. Rolls’ research reveals that even when you’re full from one type of food, say a salty snack, you can still make room for another type of food, say a sweet dessert. By eating a small amount of different-tasting foods, you can create a sense of fullness without a lot of calories.
Weight Control Tip 7 — Emphasize What You Can Eat, Not What You Can’t. Positive thinking extends to weight management, too: After all, diets often fail because we feel deprived. By focusing on what you can eat, you’ll feel better about your weight loss program than if you focus on all you’re missing.