Monday, September 15, 2008

September Body + Soul Tips for Eating Less

Every Fall I make resolutions. This is probably a hangover from school when at the start of each school year I would promise myself that this year I would be really organized, that I’d do my homework on Friday night instead of Sunday night, that I’d read ahead in my History book. I still do this, only now my resolutions tend to be broader in scope. I still resolve to do things like read more and improve my mind, but now I also think about my eating habits.

The September Body + Soul must have read my mind, because their Simple Tricks to Eat Less are right in line with the kinds of behaviors I’m hoping to eradicate. I often find myself thinking, “Well, I’m pretty much full, but there are just these two bites of chicken left; might as well eat them as throw them out.” This thinking can be a real problem. But there same behavior in reverse could be a real help in keeping weight under control.

Here are a few suggestions that can make a big difference:

- Use smaller bowls and plates; what we have, we fill up. And we’re more inclined to empty it, too.

- Sit down to eat rather than eating on the run. This includes not eating at your desk; I am very guilty of this. If we perceive what we’re eating as a “meal,” it’s more satisfying.

- Start the meal with a broth-based soup to help stretch your stomach and signal to your brain to slow your eating. Soups like minestrone or gazpacho provide an added health benefit by sneaking in an extra serving of vegetables.

- Don’t try to make every meal a lavish affair with multiple courses and options. Limiting the number of choices we have (such as not serving bread along with a menu that already has potatoes or rice) may minimize the number of calories we eat.

- Keep high calorie treat foods hidden away. The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true when it comes to tempting foods. We always have some kind of homemade cookies or cake around, because I like to have a little dessert now and then (as do my kids), but they’re in a cupboard that’s reserved solely for housing that sort of thing. If we’re not specifically after a treat, we don’t see them.

- Don’t bother with low fat when it comes to snacks. Seems that our inclination is to consider “low fat” to mean “no calories” and give ourselves carte blanche to eat more than we should. Eat one “regular” cookie, rather than risk eating five low fat ones.

- Consider picking up some peppermint oil, or keeping mints or peppermint tea handy. A small study indicates that it may have a positive impact on appetite suppression. Add this to your arsenal of ways to fight cravings; it might work for you.

- Try tricking yourself into eating less by going for less dense foods. Instead of mashed potatoes, serve cubed potatoes roasted with herbs. Scatter just a few croutons on your salad instead of having a slice of bread or crackers along with it.

Since I already keep my treats hidden, I think I’m going to try the peppermint tea and the soup ideas right away. And I’m going to try to get away from my desk at lunchtime today!

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