Take a real lunch break, even if it’s short
Eating at your desk or in front of the TV is distracting, and because your brain doesn’t fully realize what you’re eating, you could end up unsatisfied, even with big portions, says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “People look down after their meal and have no memory of what was on their plate,” she says. “They don’t feel satisfied and are hungry again in an hour.” Ideally, you should spend the full 20 or 30 minutes it takes to eat focusing on your meal. If it’s unrealistic to leave your desk that long during lunch, take at least the first five to ten minutes chowing down without distractions, she says. Find out more about what healthy people do on their lunch breaks.
Pick the smallest containeriStock/Antonio_Diaz
Whether you’re at a salad bar or frozen yogurt shop, always grab the smallest dish offered. You’ll be surprised by how much you can pack inside, but you'll have less risk of going overboard like you would with an oversized container, says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. “You can still fit a pound of food in the smallest container,” says Shapiro. “People go for the large plate so they don’t get hungry later, but you can always eat again later.”
Drink water before your coffeeiStock/Anchiy
“A little bit of dehydration can mask as hunger,” says Rumsey. “You might not feel thirsty but are a little dehydrated and can feel hungry, even if you just ate.” But if you stay hydrated, it will be easier to recognize if your body actually needs the calories. Drink 16 ounces of water as soon as you wake up to replenish the water your body lost when you were sleeping, suggests Rumsey. Are you showing signs of dehydration?
Eat a snack before grocery shoppingiStock/97
Hunger pangs at the grocery store could tempt you into unhealthy impulse buys. “You’re bound to react based on how you’re feeling at the time,” says Shapiro. “If you’re not hungry, you will make better choices.” You’ll find it easier to stick to the perimeter of the supermarket, where you’ll find healthier, whole foods like the produce section and the butcher instead of high-calorie, unsatisfying snack foods. (Related: Steal these things nutritionists always do when grocery shopping.)
Eat chips from a bowliStock/GooDween123
Even if you promise to stick with one serving of chips, there’s a good chance you’ll blow right through that if you’re reaching straight into the bag. “Never say you’ll stop when you eat ten—don’t trust yourself to do that,” says Shapiro. Instead, measure out a cup or two into a bowl and put the bag away. If you still can’t resist seconds or need something to munch mindlessly, try buying individual-sized bags of snacks, or stick with raw vegetables when you’re chilling out in front of the TV. Check out these genius portion control tricks to get better at eyeballing single servings.
Fill your freezer with frozen vegetablesiStock/zeljkosantrac
You probably know you should eat more vegetables, but by the time you finally get to cooking, the big box of fast-cooking macaroni and cheese your kid wants seems much easier. Keeping frozen vegetables on hand will make it easier to cook a produce-rich meal without much planning. “Those cook up really quickly,” says Rumsey. “A lot of people complain that they buy vegetables and they go bad, but frozen ones can sit for months and still be fine.” Roast them for a tasty side that brings out their natural sweetness. These are some subtle signs you aren't eating enough vegetables.
Serve away from the tableiStock/kali9
Dish out food at the stove, then leave the pots there when you sit down so you’re not tempted to refill your plate too soon. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for fullness signals to reach your brain, so wait at least that long before getting up for seconds. “If you start helping yourself to bigger portions prior to that timeframe, you can end up feeling overstuffed,” says Rumsey. Check out these other ways your kitchen setup can help you eat healthier.
Say no to the breadbasketiStock/Instants
It’s hard to resist a basket of bread staring you in the face at restaurants, even if you’re not hungry. “It’s sitting there because they know you’re hungry, and they don’t want you to complain,” says Shapiro. “You’re just eating it because it’s there.” Those calories add up, and you’ll probably forget to count them as part of your meal. To make sure you don’t fall into the mindless eating trap, kindly reject the bread when the server drops it off. Don't miss these tricks for losing weight over the weekend.
Always get a doggy bagiStock/zoranm
Restaurant portions are notoriously large, and you could end up six servings when you’re eating out, says Shapiro. To prevent overeating, ask for a half portion or commit to only eating half your meal. “Make a mental note of when to put your fork and knife down,” she says. Once you reach the halfway point, put your silverware under your plate or casually suck on a mint so you’re not tempted to keep picking.
Put gym time on your calendariStock/Antonio_Diaz
Commit to physical activity by scheduling it in your calendar. To take it a step forward, plan out exactly what you’ll do each day so all you have to do is lace up your sneakers and get moving. “Be really specific. That way, when the day comes, it’s already in your calendar and you know what you’re doing, which makes it easier,” says Rumsey. For instance, you might block out 30 minutes for weight training on Monday, a 20-minute interval run on Wednesday, and 30 minutes on the elliptical on Friday. Don't miss these other secrets of women who manage to work out every day.