1. When ordering food, ask for dressings and sauces on the side
One of the reasons why restaurant food is so delicious is that they really go ham on ingredients that we really shouldn’t eat in excess, such as sugar, salt, and fat. After all, the majority of restaurants only care about the taste of a specific food and less about its potential effect on your health. Keep that in mind whenever you order food.
One easy way to break the system and reduce the number of empty calories a restaurant meal contains is to order salad dressings and sauces on the side. For example, restaurants often overdress salads, putting at least 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette in it, which could set you back by 300-400 extra calories in just one meal. It's much better to control the amount of sauce and dressing you consume, whether you ordered a salad, pasta, or buffalo wings.
2. Track your hydration levels with a designated water bottle
It’s no secret that people often confuse hunger with thirst. As a result, you can end up eating more than you have to because you’ve been thirsty all along. According to Lisa Moskovitz, a nutrition expert, "upping the water intake can have a huge impact on how much you eat during the day."
That's precisely why a simple item like a water bottle can become a surprising tool to help your weight loss journey. It acts as a physical reminder to stay hydrated, and it can help you track your hydration progress throughout the day. How much water you need every day depends on your activity levels, age, and other factors, but the 8×8 rule - drinking eight glasses of 8 ounces each - is a good starting point.
If you want to curb your food cravings, experts recommend drinking 2 cups of water before every meal or snack.
3. Watch out for the food’s texture
"One reason why things like ice cream or mashed potatoes are easy to overdo is because the texture is such that it's very easy to just keep eating spoonful after spoonful," according to Andy Bellatti, a registered dietitian. Therefore, you have to portion these foods carefully. For example, you should avoid eating ice cream directly from the tub. Instead, place a small amount of ice cream into a separate bowl first.
4. Go easy on the alcohol
Like pureed or smooth foods, drinks are a common culprit behind excessive caloric consumption. We’re sure that you already know that you shouldn’t drink sodas and even juices more often than occasionally. At the same time, many people still don’t realize how many calories there are in alcoholic beverages, so here’s a useful comparison:
- One standard 150 ml (5oz) glass of dry white wine has the same number of calories as a slice of white bread.
- A pint of beer has the same caloric content as a bag of popcorn.
- An average pina colada contains the same amount of calories as a 115 g (4 oz) bag of French fries.
- A pint of cider has just as many calories as a slice of cheese pizza.
As you can see, just 1 drink can cost you hundreds of calories, nearly as much as a proper meal, so drink with caution if your goal is to lose weight.
5. High-fiber snacks are your best friend
Fiber is the stuff that fills up your stomach without costing you any calories. As you can imagine, this is very useful if your goal is to fill up your stomach in an attempt to stop those annoying food cravings. Apart from that, fiber is also very good for healthy digestion.
On the one hand, fiber helps promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and on the other hand, it makes up the bulk of the stool, so it prevents bloating and speeds up digestion. Therefore, we recommend stocking up on fiber-rich snacks if you intend to lose weight. Some examples of such snacks are nuts, berries, apples, and carrots. For further recommendations, read our article titled 14 Fantastic Natural Sources of Healthy Fiber!
6. Not all plant oils are as good as they say
If you want to lose weight, it's best to get most of your fats from whole food sources, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. This is preferable to overdoing it with cooking oils, even if it's a healthy variety like olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil.
As Bellatti told the Insider, "Adding half an avocado to a meal gives you the healthy fats but also fiber whereas cooking with avocado oil, while it's healthier from a fat perspective, doesn't really have anything that fills you up." That doesn’t mean that you should avoid cooking oils altogether, of course, but try to be mindful of the amount you eat.
7. Opt for home-cooked meals over takeout
Nutritionists recommend that at least half of the meals and snacks you eat are home-cooked. If possible, treat a restaurant as an occasional backup option for days that you're really busy instead of the main place where you get your food. Experts calculated that this will dramatically reduce one's caloric intake and how much salt and added sugar one eats.
Research from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine estimated that home cooks consume an average of 200 calories less than those who eat out more. The money you will save by cooking at home is another pleasant bonus. These delicious low-calorie snacks are the perfect inspiration for a home cook - 10 Easy Weight Loss Snacks Everyone Will Enjoy.
8. Pick leisure activities that don’t involve food
Be mindful of the ways you spend time with your family. Does it always involve food? For many people, a friendly gathering is synonymous with dinner, a picnic, or “going out for a cup of coffee”, which is the universal code for “coffee and a piece of cake.”
If you just recognized yourself in this description, it’s time for you to diversify your leisure activities. Don’t worry, this is actually quite fun, as instead of just sitting and gobbling down overpriced food, you can choose to go for a walk, bike ride, or hike with your friends, or visit a nearby museum, zoo, or amusement park with your family. Any activity will do the trick - your imagination is the only limit.
9. Take the stairs whenever you can
Do you have to exercise vigorously every day to see results? The answer is ‘no’, but if you only exercise occasionally, it’s a good idea to get your body moving whenever you have free time. Even if you’re a super busy person, you can choose to take the stairs on your way to the office or break up the long periods of sitting with a short walk around the house or office every few hours.
However short, these periods of activity will help you lose weight and stay healthy in the long run.
10. Avoid distractions while eating
Do you always have dessert in front of the TV? Or maybe, you’re too busy during the day and you decide to multitask and have lunch and work? We’ve all done this mistake at one point in our lives, but few of us suspect that this habit can actually lead to mindless overeating.
This fact was proven scientifically: according to one study, participants who listened to music while eating ended up eating a lot more of the same food compared to people who were eating without any distractions. So, if you’re used to scrolling through your phone or reading books or magazines while eating, it’s best to ditch that habit.
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