In today’s world of consumption we could all learn to want a little less, and this is especially true with food.
The abundance of choices and readiness of prepared food products is unparalleled. No other generation before us has had so much food available to them, and for so cheap.
This availability has come at a price though, and it’s our waistlines that have paid for it.
The average number of calories a person eats in a day is 3,900. Back in 1965 that number was 3,100 calories. That’s an increase of 25%.
This increase is not with fresh fruit or vegetables either. Instead, we are eating more packaged products (see graph below) which are full of sugar, salt and bad fat.
This deadly trio, in turn, makes us crave more sugar, more sodium and more fat. It’s a revolving door that will just keep on this treadmill of addiction if we don’t start making some changes.
Too Much Of A Bad Thing
How did we gain all this weight? Because it is not fathomable that a 25% increase in calories in the last 50 years has lead to an almost 50% North American obesity rate.
Weight gain is not exactly what we used to think it was, a calories in versus calories expended model. Science has confirmed that we do not process all foods the same.
Take for example almonds and a chocolate bar. The body processes the calories and macronutrients of both very differently.
The candy bar, if eaten on a regular basis, will lead to weight gain, whereas the nuts will not (unless you are my loving husband. Damn him. He eats a candy bar everyday and has not gained a pound in the 24 years of being together.).
Instead, experts are warning us that excessive over eating of the wrong foods (ie. high in sugar, sodium and bad fat), will lead us to gain weight faster because of leptin resistance in the body.
Leptin is a natural occurring hormone that tells our brains when we are full.
When we eat healthy whole foods, in the right amounts leptin does its job wonderfully and secretes messages to our control centre (the brain) telling us when we are full and when to stop eating.
But, years of bad choices with foods, accompanied with mindless over eating, breaks this system and we are now resistant to the one hormone that is there to help us.
Do This First
So, my first piece of advice on how to eat less is to start eating real food for as many different meals as you can and eliminate added sugar from your diet.
To help you with this I urge you to meal plan and prep your meals ahead of time. This will help keep you on track and on point throughout the week.
5 Easy Tips to Eat Less
1/ Hide the food.
Studies have shown that we eat more food if the food is left out on the table. So, once you have plated your meal put the dishes back in the kitchen, or even better the fridge.
On the flip side, when storing your food in the fridge or cupboards put the good stuff in clear view of your eye sight.
For instance, place your vegetables right smack in the center of your fridge and hide the processed, bad foods in the crisper. Out of sight, out of mind.
2/ Trick your brain.
Trick your brain by using smaller plates and taller glasses. Yes, we can really pull one over on ourselves.
You see food looks like way more than it is on smaller plates, creating an “illusion” to our grey matter that we are eating more. This trick even works with glasses. Choose glasses that are taller and not the wider and your brain will think there is more volume.
Here’s a good example, take a look at the picture below.
Each dot is the exact same in diameter, but doesn’t the one on the left look bigger?
So, if this was a plate of food it would also seem bigger to your brain and your brain would physically “think” that it’s eating more food than it really is -therefore telling our stomach to shut up and be satisfied.
Yep. It’s that easy to trick ourselves!
3/ Eat protein for breakfast.
Experts suggest eating at least 30 grams of protein (that’s 2 eggs and some cottage cheese) to help come out of the fast that you have done through the night and to replenish your protein stores. This is important so that your body does not start drawing on your own muscle tissue to feed itself.
In addition, wholesome high protein foods will also help regulate your appetite for the day, filling you up for a longer period. This equals to less snacking and more focus and energy through your morning too.
4/ Serve yourself 20% less.
It’s been proven that our margin for mindless eating starts after 80%. That means that after we have eaten 80% of our plate, the remaining 20% is mostly mindless.
The body does not need it for survival; we are simply eating it because we have stopped being aware.
Push yourself away from the table before this happens. Leave satisfied, but not full.
5/ Drink water.
Our body cannot distinguish whether it is thirsty or hungry. Rather it has one signal that it releases when it craves either, and in my experience people are usually dehydrated before they are actually hungry.
TRY THIS: When you get the “signal” from your stomach have a large glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Stomach still grumbling? Have another glass and wait another 10 minutes.
I also do not want you to drink your calories either. Recent studies have found that the calories we consume in liquid form don’t “register” as food in the brain’s satiety centres.
Water is the only liquid that will “fill us up” – anything else is simply extra calories to our waistline.