What if we told you that you could lose weight while continuing to eat all your favorite healthy foods? You’d call us crazy, but we’d tell you it’s the easier way. Think about your last low carb diet; how long did it take until you caved and just ordered a pizza? We’d bet it was much sooner than you’d like to admit.
You see, the reason dropping those first few pounds is so difficult is because the majority of weight-loss strategies begin by eliminating foods from your diet. While that certainly makes sense, stacking up major diet change on top of major diet change is not only overwhelming, but it can also make you feel deprived and disheartened. As a result, you might lose weight initially, but it can just as easily come right back.
That’s where this list is different. Rather than changing what you eat, these tips focus on how you eat. That’s right, you can eat that pizza! Just make sure you’re sitting down at the dinner table, that it’s around 6:30, and that you’re taking breaks between bites to chat with your family. As you’ll soon find out, these minor adjustments to your late-night, loner pizza binges can actually pay off and keep off the pounds in the long run. Implement a few of these eating habits, and you’ll get a flat belly in no time!
1. Don’t Eat Dinner After 9 PM
No, it’s not because your metabolism slows down after this time—that’s a common food myth. But it is true that late-night eaters are more likely to gain weight compared to those who take advantage of the early bird special. It’s not because they don’t burn those calories as rapidly; it’s because these night owls are more likely to binge eat (after starving themselves since lunch) and subsequently choose unhealthy foods high in sugar and fat to quickly put in their rumbling tummies. Not only will these high-energy foods pack on the pounds, but many of them can make it harder to fall asleep. And if you didn’t already know, getting enough sleep is one of the answers to How to Lose 10 Pounds.
2. Reward And Comfort Yourself Without Food
Setting goals—and reaching them—is a cornerstone of an effective weight-loss plan. And while, yes, even a one-pound loss is something to celebrate, that doesn’t mean indulging in your favorite comfort food is how you should reward yourself. Instead, make an effort to congratulate yourself in non-food ways, like treating yourself to a new workout tank, splurging on a fitness class, or going to see a movie with your friends. Replacing the connection between food and emotions will make it easier to eat better in the future.
3. Eliminate Distractions While Eating
It’s time to put an end to TV dinners once and for all. According to a Food Quality and Preference study, people who listened to music with headphones while eating consumed significantly more of the exact same food compared to those who weren’t jamming out. Experts have explained that keeping your mind busy while eating can block certain satiety cues from alerting your brain that you’ve eaten your fill.
4. And Sit Down
We’re all for walking meetings, just as long as they’re not lunch meetings. That’s because studies have found that people who stand while munching end up scarfing down 30 percent more at their next meal compared to those who sit. Researchers speculate that it’s because our body subconsciously dismisses a standing meal as a “false meal,” which causes us to eat more later in the day.
5. Cook at Least 51% Of Your Meals At Home
It’s a time saver in the moment, but eating out for most of your meals can ultimately delay your weight loss progress. Restaurant food is high in calories and loaded with salt, which research has found can release the addiction-inducing hormone dopamine. When you cook the majority of your own meals and snacks at home, you put the calorie-cutting power in your own hands. In fact, Johns Hopkins researchers found that home cooks will consume nearly 200 fewer calories than people who eat out more often. Try this great meal maybe!
6. Order Lunch Ahead of Time
If you do have to order lunch, you can do so in a way that will further your weight loss goals. Look up nutrition information ahead of time, keep extras to a minimum, and order in the morning. Wait, what? You heard right. A study conducted by University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that when people placed a lunch order more than an hour before eating, dieters chose meals with an average of 109 fewer calories than those who ordered immediately before lunch (when their rumbling stomach may have clouded their judgment).
7. Keep Your Bedroom For Sleeping, Not Eating
An analysis published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that keeping a television in the bedroom was associated with shorter total sleep time. It’s not just TV that will prevent you from getting a restorative night’s sleep (which, if you didn’t already know, is one of the essential rules for weight loss); it’s also noshing in bed. When you reserve your bedroom for snoozing, you can train your brain and body to associate slipping under the covers with sleep—making it much easier to catch some ZZZ’s.
8. Eat, Rather Than Drink, Your Calories
Yes, that goes for everything from sodas and alcohol to juice cleanses and bottled teas. That’s because beverages often lack healthy fats and fiber: two satiating nutrients that keep hunger pangs at bay. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants ended up drinking more (and thus consumed a greater number of calories) until they felt satisfied, compared to when they ate solid food.
There are a number of factors at play when it comes to satiety, and experts believe that both the sound and the physical act of chewing helps monitor your consumption; they think chewing will even increase satiety better than slurping. So, take a cue from a recent study published in the same journal—which found that thick smoothies made people feel fuller than a thin drink with the same amount of calories—by adding in a generous scoop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of crunchy nuts to your protein shakes in the mornings.
9. Make a Habit of Starting With a Salad
Who knew you can fend off calories with more calories? Cornell University researchers found that pre-loading your meals with salads can actually help your body keep its blood glucose levels more even-keeled. That means you’ll not only stay fuller longer, but you’ll also save your body from an inflammation-inducing spike in blood sugar.