We are now only a few days into March and the vast majority of our New Years’ resolutions have been as abandoned as Earring Magic Ken. By far, the most popular resolution is weight loss, and with bikini season closing in, everyone’s looking for a quick fix. You can recommend all the detoxes and pills and cleanses you want, but weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you take in.
Dieting has a very high failure rate over time, with the majority of dieters gaining back AT LEAST as much as they had lost during their dieting period. So instead of starving yourself and then spending a weekend shoving banana splits down your gullet, check out these research-supported tips on dropping pounds and feeling great.
1. Eat slowly. Your stomach is basically a bunch of kindergarteners, and the brain is the frazzled teacher reaching for the flask of Jack in her desk. The little stomachs are demanding food, and the brain-teacher is simply trying to get them to shut the hell up by activating the inner hunger sign. But, like kindergarteners, stomachs are morons. They get full but take such a long time to tell the brain that there’s about 20 minutes lag time. That means you may reach a point where your body is satisfied with how many nutrients it’s taken in, but the greedy little stomachs are still screaming for Dippin’ Dots. By time the teacher sobers up enough to realize what happened, the kids are already stuffed, and two of them are vomiting into the toy box. By eating slow, you give your stomach plenty of time between that feeling of fullness and your thirty-fifth handful of Cheetos. You may not even get to that thirty-fifth handful of Cheetos before feeling full. Ta da! Less calorie intake without feeling hungry!
2. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Your brain sends out hunger signals, but it relies on your eyes and stomach to say when. Research shows that people who played Solitaire on their computer while eating not only remembered less of what they had eaten compared to those who hadn’t been distracted, but also felt less full. Thirty minutes later, the Solitaire players ate twice as many cookies as the comparison group. So check visually with your plate every once in a while to keep your brain up to speed. Save Solitaire for when you’re pretending to work on blog posts.
3. Don’t eat out of the bag or box. This goes along with the tip number two. When you eat directly out of the food container, you’re not visually checking in with your food. You also have zero idea how much you’ve eaten. Tip: Take potato chips, crackers, cookies and other bagged or boxed foods and put single servings into sandwich bags. Plus, it’s gross to keep touching everyone else’s food.
4. Drink water. Drink lots of water. If you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first, wait about 20 minutes for the brain to catch up, and see if you still feel hungry. Hunger and thirst often get mixed up (come on, brain!), so why not try the zero calorie solution first? Also, you’ll kick start the stomach’s “no vacancy” message before the meal even starts.
5. Keep a food diary. Although it might seem to go hand-in-hand with the whole check-in-visually-for-your-idiot-brain approach, this tip works based on more of a conscious awareness. If you can see how much you’ve eaten, how often you grab a cookie here or a potato chip there, you start feeling like enough of a lying jerk (You always claimed you weren’t eating “that much.”) that you start consuming fewer calories. Hey, I said you didn’t have to diet or exercise, not that you wouldn’t have to torture yourself a little.
6. Eat on a smaller plate. Another brain hack here: moviegoers who were given large tubs of STALE popcorn consumed 34% more popcorn than those given medium tubs. With FRESH popcorn, the difference was even more dramatic with 45% more popcorn consumed by the large-tub crowds. To be fair, they may have been confused by the fact that they were actually served fresh popcorn at a movie theatre. Either way, the size of your plate or bowl matters, so keep it small.
7. Remove temptation. The best way to avoid having a late night ice cream binge is by not having ice cream in the house. The more convenient and accessible the temptation is, the less time you have to talk yourself into staying strong. I’m not saying you need to put flaming barbed wire between you and the fridge, but you’re much less likely to give in if it means getting out of your footie pajamas and making a trip to the grocery store.
The running theme appears to be being aware of what you’re eating: how much, how quickly, and from what container. The food-journaling tip is especially powerful, as the research reports that participants could double their weight loss when they were consistently writing down their food intake.
Have any other easy weight loss tips? What helps you control your hunger? Do you think these skills will show long-term effects? Sound off in the comments below!
“This is a guest post by Jana Quinn of Quality Logo Products blog.