By Janis Jibrin, M.S. RD, Lead Nutritionist for TheBestLife.com
Having trouble getting your portions under control? Here are five tactics to help you rein them in.
Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re likely to feel hungrier because your body produces more appetite-spiking hormones and fewer “I’m full” signals. For instance, a German study found that after just four nights of sleeping seven, six, six and finally just four hours, women took in 20 percent more calories than they did after getting eight hours of sleep. For most people, seven to eight hours is ideal.
Don’t wait too long between meals. You know what happens when you do—you become ravenous and devour everything in sight! Make sure to carry a nut and seed bar or another 150- to 200-calorie snack for when you’re stuck in a meeting, on a plane, or in another situation where having a meal isn’t an option.
Keep a food log for at least a week. It’s such a powerful tool—studies consistently show that people who keep a log lose more weight. That’s because they keep you accountable; seeing every bite written down in black and white quickly snaps you out of denial. Plus, you may discover triggers and patterns. As in: “Oh, I really overeat at the end of extra-stressful days.” Or, “I’m hungry an hour after eating skim milk and cereal breakfast—maybe I need to add some nuts or other fat.”
Members of TheBestLife.com have access to a food log that also tallies up daily calories, fiber, and other nutrients. If you’re not a member, look for other sites or phone apps that do the trick, or just get out a pen and paper.
Think before you eat. Before that first bite or sip, or even better, before you even step across the kitchen threshold, enter a bakery or any other tempting place, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”. If not, remind yourself that you can enjoy it later, when you’re actually hungry or can afford the calories.
Plan your splurges. Candy, cookies, chips and other treats can be part of your weight loss diet—but not if you eat the whole bag or box! If your basic diet is healthy and moderate in calories, you should be able to swing a 150-calorie splurge daily. For instance, if you know you’re going to a party, plan to have one drink that night (and no other splurges that day). Or, skip a day or two to save up for higher calorie treats. So if you just love the cookies your aunt makes, skip a treat the day before so you can happily munch on two or three of them.