The latest fad diet will only help with a few pounds. For profound long term weight loss, changing your eating habits is necessary. These simple changes can help you cut 500 calories a day from your diet, and multiple changes over time can cut a significant portion of your excess calorie intake!
Many of these changes you won't even notice, and before you know it, you are eating healthy and the pounds are dropping off.
1. Have your sandwich filling on a salad
Two slices of bread and two tablespoons of mayonnaise weigh in at 500 calories. Cut those calories from your lunch by having a salad instead, and you've cut 500 calories a day! Put your sandwich filling on a healthy plate of greens with a vinaigrette for a low calorie meal. If a salad doesn’t appeal to you, try lettuce wraps: instead of the bread, wrap your sandwich in green leaf lettuce with a mustard dip.
2. Leave 25% of your food on your plate each meal
The average person eats approximately 2000 calories a day, leaving 25% of that on your plate each meal will cut 500 calories from your diet in no time. You were probably made to clean your plate when growing up and continue to do so to this day. With food portions at restaurants and home being so large these days, leaving some behind makes more sense. Eventually, you will adjust to smaller portions to avoid wasting food. Your mom will understand and might actually thank you for the advice when you tell her!
3. Switch to Black Coffee
Coffee with cream and sugar can pack on the calories. A tablespoon of cream has 52 calories and a teaspoon of sugar 49. A regular coffee of New York fame is coffee with 2 tablespoons of cream and 2 teaspoons of sugar, making it 202 calories for just one drink. If you drink more than one cup a day, it really starts to add up. Drink your coffee black and enjoy 2 calories a cup.
4. Chew your Food Twice as Long
Research show that if you take longer to eat and chew it twice as much, you will eat about 25% less and feel fuller longer. You can eliminate 100 to 120 calories a meal and eat fewer snacks if you chew longer. Taking longer to eat will allow your brain to remember the meal, keeping you feeling full and active all day.
5. Drink flavoured water instead of soda
A single can of soda has 200 calories. If you replace 3 sodas with water every day (you can add in some mint leaves or mixed fruit to enhance the flavour!) you will drop 600 calories. In addition to the reduction in calories, soda contains extra salt and additives your body can do without. Three 8 ounce glasses of water will help your body process the calories you do take in better.
6. Cook your meals at home
Research shows that dining out regularly adds more than 150 calories a meal. If you cook at home instead, those calories will add up. Prepare your lunch to take with you for a better balanced noon meal. Make oatmeal or chia seed pudding to take to work instead of stopping at the drive-through for the breakfast sandwich and you will be fuller longer with less calories! If you do this for all three meals, you will easily cut 500 calories a day.
7. Ask your waiter to box up half your meal before it comes to the table
As discussed earlier, restaurant meals are larger than you would eat at home. The food is designed to be appetizing and visually appealing to make the guest feel like they are getting value for their purchase. Ask your waiter to box half your meal before bringing it out to your table, or ask for a box with the meal and put half aside for later.
8. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep
Research show that not being rested slows our metabolism, and that people who get 4 hours or less of sleep eat 300 more calories of sweets than well-rested people. Getting regular rest will help keep your metabolism active, burning more of what you take in as well as slowing your cravings for simple sugars and carbohydrates that provide immediate energy to your drained body.
9. Skip the bread plate or the chips and salsa
When dining out, a simple option to cut calories from the meal is to skip the bread plate or the chips and salsa designed to keep you occupied while waiting for the kitchen to prepare your meal. These dishes will keep your hands and mouth busy but provide empty calories. Bread, even with olive oil, is empty calories and will do nothing to make you feel full after the meal. Chips are deep fried and salty, triggering you to drink more.
10. Put your phone away while eating
Research shows that people eat more if they are not paying attention to what they are eating. If you are on your phone checking social media or playing games, you will forget you ate and be hungry sooner. Paying attention to each bite will register the meal with your brain, and you will stay fuller longer.
11. Swap out the nuts for veggies
Nuts are heart healthy and a better choice than a bag of chips, but they are high in calories and tend to be eaten at twice the serving size. Instead, swap out the cashews for crunchy carrots or cucumber slices to cut 500 calories a day. If nuts are a must, then choose pistachios—lower in calories and the need to peel them will slow your eating.
12. Don’t eat in front of the TV
Similar to putting your phone away when you eat, don’t watch TV while eating. If you are watching TV, you are distracted and will eat after you are full. Enjoy the meal you are eating and the company you eat it with to get more out of each bite. Meals should be enjoyed, not a distraction from what you are watching on TV.
13. Use Smaller Plates
People eat with their eyes: larger plates make proper portions look small and trigger the brain to think there isn’t enough food to be full. Smaller plates trick the brain into thinking that the portions are bigger, encouraging you to eat less and be more full. Also, smaller plates filled with veggies first, meat and starches second leave little room for empty calories.
14. Skip the margarita and go with vodka and soda instead
Happy Hour is a fun after work activity to visit with friends and coworkers. Restaurants that serve 18 ounce margaritas make them with syrups and sugars, generating 800 calories a drink. Switch that to a drink made with club soda or tonic water for a lower calorie alternative to easily cut 500 calories a day. Try a vodka and soda with lime for that taste of sour you enjoy.
15. Skip the Smoothie
Breakfast smoothies appear to be a healthy way to get the most balanced meal for breakfast on the go. These tasty treats are 800 calories for 32 ounces and are largely sugar, leaving you hungry just a few hours later. Instead, swap that for oatmeal, a banana and a cup of black coffee, which will help you cut 500 calories a day.