by Dr. Sarah Brewer
A Nutritionist and Doctor
20 small eating changes to help you lose weight
The following tips are easy to do and can help you lose weight slowly and safely.
1. Always eat breakfast
Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, so you burn more energy. It also boosts blood sugar levels after your overnight fast, reduces food cravings and makes it easier to eat more healthily and lose weight.
2. Eat your main meal at lunchtime
Your metabolism works harder at lunchtime so you burn the food you eat to fuel daily activities. If you eat your main meal in the evening, a larger percentage is converted into fat.
3. Drink a glass of water before eating
Many people mistake thirst for hunger, eating when what they really need is rehydration. Drinking a glass of water before eating stops you mistaking thirst for hunger and also helps to fill you up.
4. Always sit down at a laid table to eat
Make every meal an occasion by laying the table and sitting down to eat - even if you are on your own, and only having a snack. Don't eat mindlessly while standing up, walking around or reading - you will not appreciate what you are eating and may eat more.
5. Use a smaller plate
Serving food on a smaller plate will make you think you are eating more so you learn to feel satisfied with smaller-sized portions.
6. Don't leave serving dishes on the table
Platters piled with tempting food mean you are likely to help yourself to too much - and go back for seconds. Even though it takes a little extra time, serve everyone on individual plates, away from the table, for portion control.
7. Serve smaller helpings than you think you need
You will often find you feel quite happy eating the lesser amount and do not need more. If you do go back for second helpings, serve a small portion again so you don't eat twice as much as normal.
8. Fill your plate with naturally colourful foods
Foods that are naturally colourful tend to be high in vitamins, minerals and fibre and low in fat and calories. Fill your plate with red, green and yellow vegetables and salad for maximum nutrients and minimum fattening potential.
9. Chew each mouthful for longer
This gives your brain more time to receive signals that you are becoming full. As well as letting you appreciate the flavour of food, you are likely to eat less overall than when food is wolfed down without touching the sides.
10. Pause regularly while eating
Many people eat with a forkful of food hovering to replace the last morsel as soon as it is swallowed. By pausing between bites - even putting down your knife and fork between mouthfuls - your meal will last longer, and you will start to feel full up before you have eaten too much.
11. Re-discover the art of mealtime conversation
Stretch your meals out, like the French, and make them a social occasion. Concentrate on your food while eating, but between courses, relax and enjoy conversation. Your meals will seem more satisfying you will start to feel full before pudding so you can decline fattening sweets and select healthy, fresh fruit.
12. Purposely leave some food on your plate
Don't scrape your plate clean - leave one or two mouthfuls of each food, so you learn to stop eating when you feel full rather than when the plate is empty.
13. Don't clear away uneaten food at the end of a meal
This is guaranteed to tempt you into picking - even if you are full up. Get your family or friends to clear away for you instead.
14. Eat at least 1200 calories per day
If you eat too little, your metabolism goes onto red alert and slows to conserve calories. This survival instinct is designed for times of famine. Eat enough to keep your metabolism ticking over at its normal rate and you will lose more weight than when on a too strict diet. Men should aim to eat around 1750 calories per day.
15. Eat little and often
Eating several small meals a day keeps your metabolism on its higher settings. Six small meals, spread throughout the day, will help you lose more weight than eating three larger meals spaced further apart. This also helps stop you snacking unplanned foods because you are hungry.
16. Eat vegetarian
Aim for one or two vegetarian days during the week. As well as being healthy, vegetarian meals are usually lower in fat and calories - avoid excess pastry, eggs and cheese however.
17. Wait to eat
To tell hunger and appetite apart, force yourself to wait an extra 15 - 20 minutes whenever you fancy a snack. If it was appetite, the urge will disappear. If it was true hunger, sit down at the table and eat a healthy snack.
18. Keep a food diary and write down every thing you eat
This is especially helpful to see what and when you are eating if you are finding it difficult to lose weight. Write down everything as soon as you have eaten it - don't rely on your memory later.
19. Plan ahead
When eating out, obtain a copy of the restaurant menu beforehand and decide which healthy, low-calorie meal you are going to eat before you get there. Avoid looking at the menu on the evening so you aren't tempted by fattening foods. Choosing the most expensive item on the menu (eg lobster, filet mignon) provides instant portion control - restaurants can't afford to be too generous! Otherwise go for fish and request a slice a lemon in place of any sauce.
20. Always order first
Having chosen what you are going to eat, order first, before your dining companions. Otherwise, you may be tempted to change your mind when you hear what they have selected.