If there’s one habit which will make you lose weight more than any other it’s reducing the amount you eat by eating only when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied rather than stuffed.
You can usually lose weight with this habit no matter what type of foods you eat – because we are generally eating far too much of everything these days.
The temptation to eat too much is everywhere. Standard portion sizes have grown out of all proportion to our needs so that the mini muffins of today were the standard size of a few years ago. A “tall” coffee is the smallest size you can get. Snack foods come in multi-packs and jumbo bars. We get mounds of food served up to us in restaurants, and we are generally serving bigger portions at home too. You simply get used to indulging in an amount of food you can do without.
Most people can pick up on the portion size idea and reduce their normal intake when they want to lose weight. They relish being able to eat the foods they like, even if they are not eating so much of it. They use a bowl, take a handful of tortilla chips out of the bag and put the rest away. They leave half a muffin on the plate (better in the trash than on their hips) and they reduce the pile of food on their plate. They order less in restaurants and leave what they don’t need without a qualm.
This is great to avoid a feeling of deprivation that dieting so often brings about. Reduce portion sizes by just a third and you drop 500 calories or more from your daily intake losing about a pound of fat (3500 calories worth) a week without making any other changes. Although this is not the best way to eat healthily – for that you’d be better switching foods to include more nutrient-rich items, it does bring results without having to change too much at once.
While this is all very well for many people, there are some who struggle with this whole way of losing weight. That’s the group that craves a particular item or food group.
In this group, eating just a small amount of the food they crave leads to eating a pocketful no matter how much they want to eat in moderation. It may be the case with chocolate or other high-sugar foods and sometimes with salty snack type foods.
In this case, it’s better to stay away from the food entirely for a short time while you learn to control portion sizes using other foods. Then, when you have a sense that you can control how much you eat with other foods, you’re losing weight and feeling good, reintroduce a small portion of the food you used to crave, and see how you get on.
It can be a case of trial and error to get this right for your circumstances. We are all different and have different emotional and physical reactions to food. It takes longer for some than for others to be able to cope with a particular craving. Experiment with reintroducing the food after 3 or 4 weeks to start with – that’s generally enough to have seen good results from portion control with the rest of your meals and snacks. If it leads to eating too much then leave it for double that time before retrying. Some people have given up eating chocolate or ice cream forever because it’s almost like an addiction, but this is unnecessary for most people once they get the moderation habit.