I looove a good hack, especially when it comes to short cuts to health and nutrition. Food is important, but even healthy food can make you gain weight if you eat too much of it. Today’s post is about eating less without noticing! So let’s dive into the topic of hacking your meals so you can eat less without feeling hungry ever!
I never recommend any diets or cutting out food groups. Heck, I don’t even advise extreme calorie restrictions and deprivation. Let’s be honest, what’s the point, if you’ll binge on your favorite chocolate cookies after a juice cleanse anyway? However, having said that, I do like simple health hacks that help you eat less in a mindful way (without noticing!)
Trick Your Brain To Eat Less
Did you know you can train your brain and therefore create new habits that work for you? The power lies in tricking your brain that you’re satisfied with the amount of food you’re eating. By creating a 100-200 calorie deficit/buffer every day where your brain and stomach don’t notice the difference in these calories or missing food, this will eventually lead you to lose weight. In other words, you’re eating less this way.
But the funny thing is when we do this by putting ourselves on a “diet” or by counting calories, with the goal to eat less, it always feels like deprivation and punishment. As a result, we still have this complicated relationship with food and weight.
Calorie Deficit is Key For Weight Loss
You see, we often overeat on our favorite meals. If you’ve been consistently eating too much at every meal, your brain and stomach get used to this way of eating. The good news is that you can reverse this way of (over) eating and teach your brain and stomach to stop eating at 80% fullness in a subtle way.
Over time this calorie deficit (that’s what you need in order to lose weight) can help you actually lose weight. Most importantly, it requires little effort or willpower. Without further ado, let’s dive into the 10 simple ways to eat less without noticing. Nothing fancy, no rocket science, just simple hacks you can implement in your daily life starting today!
10 Simple Ways To Eat Less Without Noticing
1. Use Smaller Plates
Having a “full” plate in front of you feels and look like a satisfying meal. But a large plate which is half full looks and feels like you’re not eating enough, and as a result doesn’t look or feel satisfying. Even though the amount of food is the same when eating it from a smaller plate. The same amount of food looks like more on a smaller plate.
You’re unconsciously reducing your portions. As a result, you’ll eat less, and consume fewer calories. In conclusion, simply by using smaller plates and preferably the same plate at every meal, and filling it up is a proven way to eat less without noticing.
2. Serve Yourself 20% Less
You’ll not really notice when you serve yourself 20% less food on your smaller plate. Besides, you can always load more on vegetables to fill yourself up without getting too many calories in. The key is to eat high volume food with fewer calories, such as leafy greens, lettuce, nonstarchy vegetables and soups.
3. Eat Protein For Breakfast
I don’t recommend skipping your breakfast. Having said that, if you are all about intermittent fasting and skipping breakfast is part of your lifestyle, you can add protein at any other meal. By adding protein in your meal such as protein powder, flax seeds or spinach in your breakfast smoothie keeps you satiated and full longer. Other ideas? Try adding some scrambled tofu or baked beans on your toast or peanut butter on your oatmeal to boost your protein intake.
Vegetables are packed with fiber, water and are low in calories but high in volume. By filling half of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables (such as spinach, carrots, paprika, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes) you are adding volume without the extra calories or carbohydrates.
The other half of your plate can be divided over protein (tofu, tempe, beans, edamame) and starches such as brown rice, potatoes, or pasta. You can use this method with any other meals or while cooking. Simply add more vegetables to make them lower in calories and more nutrient-dense.
It sounds fancy, but hear me out. When you have a soup or salad before your main meal, by the time you start your main course you’ll be less hungry. You’ll most likely eat less by having a simple soup such as miso soup, tomato soup, vegetable broth or start with a side salad or garden salad. The broth which is high in water content and the greens which are high in fiber fills you up and is generally low in calories.
Eating this way will automatically make you eat less at your main course. Studies even show that you can eat 20% less at the main course and therefore get fewer calories in. However, make sure you don’t drench your garden salad with creamy Ceasar dressing or excess olive oil.
6. Eat More Soluble Fiber
Food which is high in fiber is good for you! Moreover, foods with soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, all types of beans and seeds, broccoli, apples, and pears are particularly filling. That’s because soluble fiber holds more water. These foods help to slow your digestion and keeping you full longer. How to add these ingredients to your meal next time? Try adding chia or flax seeds to your smoothies and oats. Or add a can of beans to your soup and salads. How about topping your fruits with some seeds and nuts?
7. Keep Snacks Out of Sight
I always say “What you see is what you eat.” That is to say, you tend to eat more when food is visible (near you) rather than invisible (put away in a cupboard.) The extra effort to go to the cupboard, or ordering in, or heading to the nearest supermarket will make it less likely for you to eat it. These are all “obstacles” to prevent you from mindlessly eating that jar of cookies when it’s right in front of you on your desk.
To avoid (extra) snacking, keep tempting and often less nutrient-dense foods out of sight, or better yet, out of the house. On the other side, keep nutrient-dense foods within your reach and insight for healthy munching when cravings kick in.
8. Practice Mindful Eating
Did you know that your brain needs about 20 minutes to receive the message from your stomach that it’s full? Therefore when you eat too fast, your brain can’t signal you this and the result is often that you overeat and get too many calories in. Having said that, nowadays we tend to eat quickly or distracted (hello TV and hand phones) and we ignore hunger or fullness signals. By practicing mindful eating you learn to connect with your hunger cues and the food what you’re about to eat.
It’s about bringing your awareness during meals back to the present moment, fully engaged. Practice mindful eating by chewing thoroughly is an important key. Chew for 30-40 times per spoonful and close your eyes to taste the flavors and texture of the food. Put your spoon or fork down in between bites, this way you force yourself to slow down and truly be present. It’s not an easy thing to do at first, but keep practicing and you’ll see that one serving plate is more than enough to fill you up.
9. Don’t Eat From The Package
When you eat directly from a pack, you basically have no idea how much you’re eating. Those extra calories count! When you can’t see how much you eat you’re more likely to overeat. Use a plate, or a bowl, just to make sure you get a good visual presentation of everything you’re going to eat before taking your first bite. You can also apply the smaller plate method here.
10. Fill Up on Water
By drinking a tall glass of water 30 minutes before every meal can help to reduce your hunger. Water fills you up and you will feel less hungry to shovel your meal all at once. However, I don’t recommend drinking water during meals, this can dilute the nutrients from your food in your stomach, so keep the water intake before every meal and during the day.
Remember the soup or salad before every meal tip? It has the same effect when you start every meal with a nice bowl of soup that fills you up before every main meal, to prevent overeating and as a result reduces your calorie intake.
Hunger is an important and natural signal that shouldn’t be ignored. The tips mentioned here are just a few simple ways to reduce your hunger in between meals. Eating fewer calories doesn’t have to mean feeling hungry. In fact, there are many things you can do to keep hunger at bay. Try increasing up veggies intake, eating more protein, or tricking your mind by using smaller plates. These simple tips can help you control food portions without feeling hungry.
If you’ve tried these tips but still find you’re overeating and can’t control your cravings, please schedule a free consult with me to talk about your options here.