4 Small Eating Changes for Big Weight Loss

You don’t need to overhaul your diet to drop pounds. Start with these easy, everyday tweaks.

4 Small Eating Changes for Big Weight Loss

When you think about losing weight, do you worry you’ll have to eat foods that taste like cardboard, or say no to sweets altogether?

Not necessary.

In fact, making drastic changes to your diet—especially ones that aren’t sustainable—could set you up for failure. If you want to slim down, check out these easy, science-backed tricks that can help you cut calories and make smarter food choices.

Clean your plate and still lose weight
If you’re like many adults at mealtime, you’ll eat whatever’s put in front of you. Unfortunately, portion sizes have grown big-time in recent years, which means you may consume more calories than in the past without even knowing it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can clean your plate and perhaps drop pounds if you portion your food wisely.

Tip: To better control portion sizes at meals, try filling your plate halfway with fruits and vegetables. Keep serving dishes off the table when you eat; you’ll be less tempted to go for seconds. If you’re at a restaurant, order an appetizer instead of an entrée. If you do order an entrée, as soon as it arrives from the kitchen, place half of it into a takeout container to take home with you.

Be smart about fruit
Many fruits are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates, but that doesn’t mean you need to banish them from your diet. Studies show that eating whole, fresh fruit can help you maintain your weight—and may even contribute to weight loss. Why? For one thing, fruit is packed with key vitamins and lots of fiber, which can help you feel fuller, longer.

Tip: To reduce your overall calorie intake, try some fresh fruit before a meal or in place of a rich dessert. If you stick to fruit with a high water content, you can have a nice, large portion. Enjoy 1 1/2 cups of grapes, 2 cups of strawberries or 2 cups of watermelon for just 100 calories each. 

Don’t forget about vegetables
It’s a no-brainer: Eating more vegetables is a great way to manage your waistline. Many veggies are naturally low in fat and calories. And like fruit, they’re full of water and fiber, helping you stay satisfied. Another big benefit: Vegetables offer a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals that are critical to good health.

Tip: Replace rice or pasta in your favorite dish with a cup of cauliflower or zucchini; you’ll get the same basic amount of food for fewer calories. Look for veggie-based snacks, too. For just 100 calories, you can munch on 1 cup of carrots, broccoli or bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of hummus.

Ditch the white bread
White bread lacks the healthful nutrients found in darker, whole-grain breads. But there’s another reason to say “no thanks” to the white stuff: Bread made with whole grains has more fiber, keeping you fuller and making you less likely to reach for quick, high-calorie snacks. What’s more, the fiber in whole-grain bread can help your digestive system function better, too.

Tip: Swap your white bread for whole-grain bread for 10 days to see how much you really miss it. When you’re purchasing the new bread, check its packaging to make sure the word “whole” appears as part of the first ingredient. If the word is missing, you may not have a true whole-grain bread.

Sources:

Schlesinger S, Neuenschwander M, Schwedhelm C, et al. "Food groups and risk of overweight, obesity, and weight gain: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies." Adv Nutr. 2019;10(2):205-218.
Sharma SP, Chung HJ, Kim HJ, Hong ST. "Paradoxical effects of fruit on obesity." Nutrients. 2016;8(10).
Guyenet SJ. "Impact of whole, fresh fruit consumption on energy intake and adiposity: A systematic review." Front Nutr. 2019;6:66.
National Institute on Aging. "Serving and portion sizes: how much should I eat?" Published April 29, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "How to use fruits and vegetables to help manage your weight." Published August 17, 2020.

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