Hmmm…you want to lose weight but you HATE having to count calories and log your food.
While you do have to burn more calories in a day than you consume there are other ways to achieve that besides food logs and calorie counting.
Safe weight loss apps and calorie counters are set up to facilitate weight loss between 1-2 pounds per week. To do that, they give you a calorie level that is about 500 calories less than what you need per day if you were trying to maintain your current weight.
One to two pounds per week may not sound like a lot but it is what registered dietitians like myself recommend because it is proven safe and sustainable. That’s the goal right? If you lose the weight you don’t want to turn around and gain it all back.
If you do something that is drastic and results in quick weight loss studies show you will gain it all back AND it may not really be safe for you.
What I recommend is to decrease the amount of calories you are eating by 500 per day. Do that for a week and you should lose around 1-2 pounds.
Here’s how you can do that WITHOUT COUNTING CALORIES.
Idea #1: Don’t drink your calories.
This is great for people who are getting significant calories from what they drink. Take a look at a label and see how many calories are in orange juice, coffee creamer, soda, alcohol or energy drinks. Replace these drinks with water or another calorie free beverage. You’ll be able to make a major dent in your overall calorie intake just by making this switch.
In the past: I would enjoy a glass of wine while I make dinner.
Now: I skip it.
Saved: 100 calories.
In the past: I would drink 4 or 5 beers while I watch the game.
Now: I drink 2-3 beers.
Saved: 280 calories.
Idea #2: Focus on HOW MUCH you are eating, not WHAT you are eating.
Losing weight doesn’t have to mean eating salad and veggies every meal. This tip is great for those that often overeat. If you often eat until you feel uncomfortable, this is a great tip for you. Similarly, if you are a lifelong member of the clean plate club, this is a great tip for you. Eating until the plate is empty and ignoring your fullness cues is often a source of extra calories and weight gain. Start eating with the goal of eating 70-75% of what you normally would eat.
In the past: I always eat ¾ of this same frozen pizza I’ve made many times.
Now: I eat half of the pizza, pause, and see if I can be satisfied with less.
Saved: 220 calories
In the past: I always order a large.
Now: I order a medium.
Saved: 175 calories
In the past: I eat the entire pint of ice cream within a day.
Now: I eat 75% of the pint of ice cream within a day.
Saved: 90 calories
You get the idea! Remember, you only have to decrease your calories by 500 in a day to see results.
Idea #3: Focus on WHY you are eating, not WHAT you are eating.
The best habit I can recommend for anyone is to pause each time you are on the verge of eating and ask yourself:
WHY DO I WANT TO EAT THIS? AM I PHYSICALLY HUNGRY?
There are 4 reasons why we eat and they aren’t mutually exclusive.
Reason #1: I’m eating on auto-pilot or habit
Examples: late night snacking, snacks at the movies, hitting the vending machine everyday at 3 pm.
Eating out of habit doesn’t have anything to do with hunger. If you eat when you aren’t physically hungry, you are at risk to gain weight.
Reason #2: I’m eating because it looks or smells good (external cues.)
Examples: Walking through the kitchen and grabbing a banana. You didn’t go to the kitchen to get food. You were just passing through. But you saw the banana and before you know it, you are having a 100 calorie snack.
Shopping at the mall and you smell roasted nuts at a vendor. You purchase and eat them while you continue shopping.
You open up the refrigerator to get the water pitcher and you see leftovers. You heat up a small serving to go with your water.
Eating only because something looks or smells good while you ignore your physical hunger cues puts you at risk to gain weight.
Reason #3: I’m eating because of a feeling/emotional trigger.
Examples: I’m not hungry but I’m bored and this gives me something to do.
I’m not hungry but I’m sad and this ice cream and cake will make me feel better.
I’m not hungry but I’m overwhelmed and frustrated. I need a distraction and eating will help.
Eating due to a feeling or emotion every now and then is normal. But you can get into real trouble if you eat like this all the time. If this is you, consider taking my FREE 5 day challenge to end emotional eating. The sign up is here on my website. Helping people overcome emotional eating is my jam.
Eating in response to a feeling while you ignore physical hunger puts you at risk to gain weight.
To overcome this, develop a habit of stopping before you eat and ask yourself:
WHY DO I WANT TO EAT THIS? AM I PHYSICALLY HUNGRY?
You may need to post sticky notes around your house or your work space to remind yourself. Lots of my clients say they don’t think about it until they are mid-meal. This has to change. To develop the habit, set up reminders for yourself.
In conclusion, type A personalities love tracking and they love the accuracy of inputting their foods into a calorie calculator. If that’s not you, no problem! Don’t give up, just take a different approach. If you have any questions about these strategies you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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