Did you know that you make over 200 food-related decisions every day, most of them without even realizing? An extra spoonful here, a bigger bite there. As anyone who has ever sat in a movie with a gargantuan tub of popcorn knows, subtle (and not so subtle) signals from our environment are constantly nudging our eating behavior in one direction or another, usually toward eating much more than we had planned.
Now is a great time to spring clean your habits and make sure your food routines work with your biology to propel you on the path toward your best health, rather than making life a whole lot harder by relying on hope and willpower to eat less. Read on to discover some of my favorite tricks to move toward a healthier body weight by effortlessly shaving 100 calories off of your meals and snacks.
Breakfast: Turn Your Bowl Upside Down
A bowl of breakfast cereal can certainly be a healthy start to your morning, as research suggests it’s linked with a healthier body weight and improved nutrient intake. But there are a growing number of seemingly “healthy” breakfast cereals, (i.e. certain granolas or clusters) that can have upwards of 500-600 calories in a cup! An added challenge is that the size of our bowls have ballooned in the past two decades – along with the rest of our dishware – which means we pour more than we used to. A lot more.
Here’s my trick: Fill the bottom of your bowl first with fresh sliced fruit (I love strawberries, which are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants), then put about half as much of your favorite whole grain breakfast cereal on top. Your eyes will still see a hearty bowl of food, so you’ll feel satisfied, yet because you’ve flipped your habit on its head, you can easily trim 100 calories from your bowl. If you trade down from a high-calorie cereal to a lower-calorie choice (one that contains 100% whole grains with no added sugar), you’ll blast even more calories.
Lunch: Start With a Soup Shooter
Did you know that thanks to primitive hard-wiring, human beings tend to eat roughly the same weight of food every day, regardless of whether it’s high-calorie or low-calorie food? This is one reason why high-calorie fast food and sweets are so easy to overdo. The secret to spontaneously eating less without feeling hungry or deprived is to choose foods that weigh a lot but are still low in calories. Usually, these are foods with a high water content, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.