Why does eating fewer calories to lose weight seem so difficult? An article in MedlinePlus gives ten easier ways to cut 500 calories each day. If we could do that, it could result in about fifty pounds of weight-loss in a year. As I read their suggestions, they made sense. While we may not always hit our mark, at least these ideas can give a head start without all the agony of strict dieting. Here is their modified list with my comments.
- Change your snacks. What do you choose as a snack? Too often we like the salty, sweet, fatty choices. But there are great healthy options out there. Consider fresh fruit, air-popped corn, or my favorite―nuts. While nuts do have more calories than some foods, in small quantities they provide many needed nutrients and a feeling of fullness.
- Cut one high-calorie treat. You choose. Is it the high-calorie breakfast doughnut, the tempting dessert at lunch, or fried foods? My choice was to switch from “sweet tea” to unsweetened tea. Saves a good 100 calories a day. I figured with the huge amount I drink daily, it calculated to about ten pounds a year. This leads to their next suggestion.
- Stop drinking your calories. It’s not easy to give up all those tasty choices. But those special coffees or sugar-laden colas can quickly add up to 400 to 500 calories a day―and leave us without adequate nutrients or the needed fiber for lasting fullness.
- Skip seconds. That sounds like a no-brainer, but we can all be guilty. It tastes so good, we want more. When we can’t resist, make sure we choose lower calorie foods. While we serve most meals family style, serving buffet without options for a return “all-you-can-eat” trip may help the entire family control calories.
- Make ingredient substitutions in favorite dishes. Using plain low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream can cut a few hundred calories. We can cut the amount of sugar in many dishes without any effect on the results.
- Ask for a doggie bag. My husband and I figure we get a two-for-one with many of the meals we eat out. Call for a to-go container as soon as the meal is served and put half the portions into it. Just remember to take home immediately and refrigerate.
- Say “no” to fried foods. That’s hard for southerners who like their fried chicken and catfish. We can save as much as 500 calories when we choose baked, broiled, or grilled. Change those French fries to a baked potato, salad, or vegetable.
- Build a thinner pizza. I love pizza, but it is one of those foods I have disciplined myself to skip. That’s not to say we can’t ever splurge, but keep it minimal. For those who prefer to change the topping instead of skipping altogether, omit the cheese and meat and load your pizza with lots of veggies.
- Eat from a plate. I can’t start a bag of popcorn―any size―without eating the entire thing. The secret? Put smaller portions on a plate or in a bowl. When it’s gone, it’s gone. The same with chips and other tempting snacks. Avoid grabbing sandwiches and bags of chips on the way to the TV. We tend to eat less when we place meals on a plate and eat in a designated area away from distractions.
- Avoid alcohol. While that isn’t a problem for many of us, it is for a great number of people. There is no nutritive value in alcohol. It’s all calories. Some drinks can have as many as 500 calories. For those who choose to drink, light beers or a small glass of wine will have fewer calories.
You may think of many other ways to lower the number of calories you eat. Often people have asked for me to write them a “diet.” I don’t eat the same as they do, and they probably would not follow my choices any better than they follow the many options all ready out there. It’s your diet. Make it your own. Think how you can painlessly make changes, such as my unsweetened tea. True, I did not like it at first, but now I can’t stand the sweet stuff. Give yourself time. Commit to changes that can work into your lifestyle and go for it. What do you have to lose but weight?