It sounds so easy, right? Just eat less and move more! And of course, do those two things consistently. The consistency part is an entirely different story. But for now, let’s tackle the eating less part in 15 actionable bullet points.
1. Finishers: We love finishing things! That’s why it’s so hard to leave things on our plate; like that last few bites we don’t even want. Our clue that we are done eating is that our plates are clean. Instead, try leaving a piece of food on your plate from now on, no matter what. You’re in control. Not the food. Besides, it’s only food! It’s not your best friend. It’s not your worst enemy. It’s only food!
2. Perception: In a study when people thought they were drinking “cheap” wine, they ate less and stayed at dinner a shorter amount of time. But the group with the “good” wine (they were the same exact wines) stayed longer and ate more and said the meal was better. Awareness is critical. Knowing how irrational we are, and how it causes us to eat more (or less) helps tremendously.
3. Less is More: The first bite is always the best so just reduce your portions. Out to dinner? Kindly tell waiter to pack up 1/2 of your food for home even before he brings out the plate to your table.
Say no to bread. This way you don’t even have to look at it. If you have to constantly look at it, you’ll constantly ask yourself the question, “Do I want a piece? Do I really not want a piece?” Save yourself the anguish.
Put food in the back of cupboards. Make it harder to get to. Thank God for places like Costco. But take Costco size things and put them in smaller containers (then hide them in large bins). In general, when food is out of your sight – it’s out of your mind because the more we’re cued, the more emotion and billions of dollars of advertising are at work.
4. Awareness: Are you really hungry when you eat? If you’re not hungry but choose to eat anyway — say out loud, “I’m not hungry but I’m going to eat this anyway!” This helps to wake you up because many times we’re just eating to eat.
5. Forgotten: There was a great study where one group of people ate chicken wings and the bones were kept in front of them. In the other group, the plates were cleared every 15 minutes or so. Who do you think ate less? The group who saw all of the bones. You can do the same with alcohol. Always serve new glasses of and be sure to leave the old glasses out and the bottles too!
6. See all you can eat: Like the chicken wings – serve yourself in the kitchen and eat in another room. With snacks always pour or put the snack into something. Otherwise, the hand always reaches into that bag. Having endless portions in front of you is a sure fire way to overeat.
7. Servings: We generally eat 92% of what we serve ourselves. Obviously, we aren’t feeling whether we are hungry or not. We’re judging by our plates. Trick: Use smaller plates, dishes and glasses. We drink more from a wider glass than a taller glass so use taller glasses instead of wider ones.
8. Chop sticks: It takes 20 minutes to digest and realize the affects of the food we ate. Hence, you keep eating when you are no longer even hungry. Solution: Make it harder to eat. Use chop sticks, eat with your other hand (and laugh a lot!). Bonus: Try pacing yourself with the slowest eater at the table. Put your fork down after every bite. And try starting last and finishing last.
10. Groups: When you are with 1 other person you’ll eat 35% more, with a group of 4 it’s 75% more and with 7 or more it’s 96% more! You remember how important I said awareness is? Remember this and slow down!
11. Nice restaurants: You are likely to eat more with low lights, soft music, muted colors and an attentive wait staff.
12. Distractions: If you eat while you work or read or watch TV, or do anything in addition to eating, you’re going to eat more. Smell the roses. Live in the moment. Taste your food.
13. Brands: We experience them as better because we expect them to be better. Set your expectations low and all food tastes great.
14. The health halo: Watch out for Subway or any other healthy eateries. Most people, because they think they are eating healthy, will get a soda (plus a refill), cookie and chips and the most unhealthy sandwiches. The calories will add up and before you know it, you’re ‘healthy’ meal is not so healthy!
15. Business parties: Only 2 items of food on your plate at 1 time. Chow down on healthy food first like veggies. While talking set your food down so you don’t mindlessly munch. When you enter the room, remind yourself of the visit: Business or food?
Try following these tips and you’ll be well on your way to eating less!