Dieting for weight loss can be tough, even when we’re super motivated to change our habits. The reason being, it can be very easy to make mistakes without even realising we’re doing so.
The truth of the matter is, we need to reduce calories in an attempt to be in a calorie deficit. In it’s very simplest form, that involves a shift in the energy equation balance – calories in versus calories out. The energy equation is the food we eat in relation to the energy we expend so we can tip it in our favour by doing more exercise and moving more in general. However, there’s only so much exercise we can do without it impacting on other aspects of our life, so that’s when food intake becomes our focus.
My questions are then:
Is there a way of cutting calories without feeling like we are?
Can we cut calories without starving ourselves?
Can we actually trick ourselves into thinking we’re eating more than we really are?
Well the answer is yes, there are certain things we can do to drop calories whilst limiting the feeling of deprivation (although some of these ideas may be very much up to personal preference!). Have a read of the following tips and implement some, or all, of these into your daily eating habits – and watch your body change!
- Prepare your own food.
Ditch the shop-bought sandwiches and salads and make your own instead. Manufacturers have to make certain decisions based around price, availability and general preference so you often find they have poor quality produce and high calorie ingredients in pre-packaged meals. Make your own instead and opt for lower calorie sauces and dressings and see how many calories you can save! Since when did a pasta salad have so many calories anyway??!
- Eat Slowly.
Such a simple trick but so easily forgotten! It takes time for your brain to receive the signals from your hunger hormones so it’s best that you take your time with meals and give them your full attention. That means moving away from your desk, mobile or TV and actually taking the time to enjoy the taste. Put your cutlery down at least 3 times during your meal – this will force you to slow down and have you feeling satiated more quickly. Higher satiation means less calories consumed, yessss!
- Drink First.
Have a large glass of water or sugar free cordial before you eat your meal – it’ll satisfy any thirst you may have and begin to fill your tum. This could mean a sub-conscious reduction in calories when choosing or eating food.
Ask your buddy to go halves with you on a particularly large meal or even that too-tempting-to-resist dessert and half the calories! You can always have another snack later on if you’re genuinely feeling hungry, but fingers crossed, it’ll still be enough to satiate. Winning!
- Re-think Sauces.
If you’re the type of person that can go without sauces without feeling deprived then do it! There are plenty of low calorie or calorie-free options to keep your taste buds dancing. Lemon juice, chillies, chilli sauces and a whole range of herbs and spices can flavour a dish without all the extra calories. If the idea of going sauce-free is painful, consider halving your usual portion or be more mindful of only using what you really need.
- Go Salad/Veg Crazy.
Fill up on salad and veg. Full of fibre and low in calories, you’re onto a winner here! Be sure to fill half your plate and get your munch on. It’ll make your meal feel much more substantial, offer more nutrients and the high fibre content will leave you feeling satisfied on fewer calories.
- Read the Labels.
Don’t just rely on guesswork when grabbing your snacks. Learn to read and understand the nutrition labels so you know what you’re eating. A closer inspection of the label might have you recoiling (yep, the old serving size trick!) and you’ll probably find you start to put your usual snacks back on the shelf!
- Choose lower calorie snacks.
There are some easy ways to reduce calorie intake, simply by choosing low fat variations or different snacks. For example, your handful of nuts could be replaced with an apple, you could have low fat Greek yoghurt instead of full fat or your ‘3 egg omelette’ could be your ‘2 whole egg plus 2 egg whites omelette’. Small changes like this could result in a big drop in calories and therefore directly affect your overall daily intake. Be sure to check the calorie count of your current snacks and see if there is a better weight-loss alternative.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways we can trick ourselves into thinking we’re eating more than we are. Keep up your activity levels, add a dose of willpower into the mix, and you’ll be able to get good results, fast.
Remember, to lose weight and maintain the loss, build these changes into your lifestyle so that you are able to stay consistent over the long term.
Most importantly, look after yourself!