Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS Family & Community Health Sciences Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
The New Year is a great time to take stock of your eating habits, especially if losing weight is a resolution. Consider the following positive action steps:
- Sip Smart by Using a Tall, Thin Glass: Use a tall, skinny glass instead of a short, wide tumbler to cut liquid calories without dieting. You'll drink 25%-30% less juice, soda, wine, or any other beverage. Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, Ph.D., says visual cues can trick us into consuming more or less. Research at Cornell University found all kinds of people poured more into a short, wide glass, including experienced bartenders.
- Sip Smart and Limit Alcohol: Follow the first drink with a nonalcoholic, low-calorie beverage like sparkling water instead of moving directly to another cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. Alcohol has more calories per gram (7) than carbohydrates (4) or protein (4). One can also lose inhibition leading to mindless eating of chips, nuts, and other foods you'd normally limit.
- Sip Smart and Drink Green Tea: Drinking green tea may also be a good weight loss strategy. Some studies suggest that it can rev up the body's calorie-burning engine temporarily, possibly through the action of phytochemicals called catechins. At the very least, you'll get a refreshing drink without tons of calories.
- Try Yoga: Women who practice yoga tend to weigh less than others, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. What's the connection? The yoga regulars reported a more "mindful" approach to eating. Researchers think the calm self-awareness developed through yoga may help people resist overeating.
- Eat at Home: Eating home-cooked meals at least five days a week was a top habit of successful weight losers according to a Consumer Reports survey. Cooking may be easier than you think with quick meal starters, such as pre-chopped lean beef for fajitas, washed lettuce, pre-cut veggies, canned beans, cooked chicken strips, or grilled deli salmon.
- Pause When Eating: Most people have a natural "eating pause," when they put down their fork for a couple of minutes. Watch for this moment and don't take another bite. Clear your plate and enjoy the conversation. This is a quiet signal that you're full, but not stuffed and, unfortunately, most people miss it.
- Chew Strong Mint Gum: Chew sugarless gum with a strong flavor when you're at risk for a snack attack after work. Socializing at a party, watching TV, or surfing the Internet are other dangerous scenarios for mindless snacking. Gum with a big flavor punch overpowers other foods so they don't taste good.
- Shrink Your Plates: Choose a 10-inch lunch plate instead of a 12-inch dinner plate to automatically eat less. Professor Brian Wansink, Ph.D., found in test after test that people serve more and eat more food with larger dishes. Shrink your plate or bowl to cut out 100-200 calories a day and 10-20 pounds in a year. In Wansink's tests, no one felt hungry or even noticed when tricks of the eye shaved 200 calories off their daily intake.