As a nutritionist, I’m often asked for advice by people who are concerned about how they will look come summer. Will they fit into more revealing clothing or bathing suits, or will they be able to navigate holiday parties and barbecues, and so forth?
Ideas for Healthy Eating and
Controlling Portion Sizes
That Really Work
I am not a fan of rigid diets that restrict entire food groups for a short period of time. Instead, I rather advocate healthy eating at all times and developing simple strategies for weight loss for the long haul.
Below is a short list of such strategies, which I have seen work very well for my clients, helping them to successfully lose weight and, more importantly, keep it off.
Make smart swaps
I am a big fan of simple substitutions for favorite foods, rather than cutting foods out entirely and leaving people at a loss for what they can include in their eating plan. What I have found in my private practice is that small action-oriented steps and simple substitutions tend to work a lot better.
For example, drinking seltzer instead of soda and starting the day with bran cereal or a Greek yogurt instead of doughnuts or oversized muffins can make a huge difference in terms of both losing weight and eating healthfully.
Keep a food diary
I recommend to my clients to keep food diaries, at least initially when they switch to healthier eating habits. Writing down what you eat helps raise your awareness about the exact amounts of food you include in your daily diet. It is also an excellent behavioral tool to help you practice eating mindfully. And these days, there are so many ways to keep food records. You can stick to the old-fashioned way of using pencil and paper; you can keep records on your computer or tablet; or you can download an app for your smart phone.
Stick to regular meal times
One way to avoid overeating is to eat at regular intervals throughout the day and not skip meals. If you are not hungry at a particular time, eat a smaller meal rather than nothing at all. It is better not to allow yourself to get too ravenous and then “let yourself go” by grabbing anything you can find.
Choose single servings
Research has found that using single-serving packages can be instrumental in weight loss efforts. I also recommend them to gain awareness about portion control. For example, while you may be tempted to take several handfuls of chips or other snack foods without paying attention, you will probably think twice before opening another bag.
It has been shown in tests that most people tend to eat more when they are served greater amounts of food and drinks, or when they are given food in larger packages. A review of nearly 90 studies confirms why oversized portions may contribute to obesity: people eat more when they are served more. As researchers from Bond University in Australia wrote in the Journal of the American Marketing Association on the subject: “For a doubling of portion size, consumption increases by 35 percent on average.” Choosing single-serve packages can certainly help decrease consumption.
Make half of your plate fruits and veggies
Dieters can actually eat more of certain foods to help them lose weight. Fruits and vegetables are a perfect example as they are relatively low in calories and rich in nutrients. Because they are high in fiber, they can also help to feel full for longer periods of time. Adding fruit to your yogurt or cereal is a great way to add fiber, color and volume to your breakfast. Starting your dinner with a tossed salad or a veggie-based soup enables you to eat more food, so that you don’t feel deprived. I suggest including at least one fruit or vegetable serving at each meal.
Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, CDN is an adjunct professor of nutrition in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University (NYU). She is the author of “The Portion Teller Plan” (Broadway, a Division of Random House, Inc.).
Widely considered an expert on portion sizes, Dr. Young is regularly featured in national publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Self, Fitness, Redbook, and Glamour. She has appeared as an expert guest on national television, including ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, TODAY and CNN, and was featured in the film “Super Size Me.” For more information, please visit http://www.portionteller.com
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