New research has uncovered simple ways to trim 100 calories or more from your diet without skimping on flavor. While it doesn’t sound like much, shaving off 100 calories a day could help you trim 10 lbs or more in a year even if you never set foot in the gym.
Wet your whistle
You’re more likely to crave veggies than greasy French fries, chips, or other high-fat foods if you pair a meal with water instead of caloric beverages. Researchers at the University of Oregon say that food-drink pairings can influence the type of food choices we make and the amount of calories we eat. In the study, adults who paired a meal with water were more likely to eat their vegetables and make other healthy food choices than if they sipped on soda.
Stop staring at sugar
To help you keep sugar cravings in check, a recent study says you should look the other way when you see pictures of high-fat, high-calorie, or sugary foods. That’s because brain scans have shown that ogling pictures of high-calorie treats stimulates parts of the brain that control hunger and the reward center, says Kathleen Page, MD, assistant professor of medicine at USC and the study’s lead author. Bottom line: maybe your Pinterest board of cupcakes isn’t the best idea.
Several studies say you could wind up hungrier than if you were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. One study from the Mayo Clinic shows getting less than 6 ½ hours of sleep a night can lead to consuming as many as 500 excess calories in a day.
Being sleep deprived can increase how hungry you feel and lead to downing more calories than you’d eat if you weren’t exhausted, says Manfred Hallschmid, PhD, department of medical psychology and behavioral neurobiology, University of Tübingen and lead researcher of a separate study on sleep and calorie consumption.
“Sleep deprivation can raise levels of appetite hormones like ghrelin,” he says.
Dim the lights
A recent study from Cornell University says the secret to eating less – and feeling more satisfied with what you do eat – could be as simple as some mood lighting. People who ate a meal under soft, warm lighting consumed 175 fewer calories, and finished 18% less of the food on their plates, than those who dined in brightly lit places.
Those in the darker rooms also rated food as more enjoyable than the other group. Scientists think that’s because the harsh fluorescent lights commonly found in fast-food restaurants may create a psychological need to rush through meals and eat more. Consider this your chance to actually use those candlesticks you got for your wedding ages ago.
Don’t say: I can’t
Whether you’re trying to sidestep a fast-food drive-thru or the office doughnuts, don’t tell yourself what you can’t eat. Instead, tell yourself you “don’t” eat it. In a recent study, when researchers divided a group of people into “can’t eats” and “don’t eats,” 64% of those in the “don’t” group passed up a candy bar in favor of a healthier granola bar – but only 30% of the “can’t” group chose the healthier snack. “Can’t” sounds more like punishment than being healthy, creating a sense of self-deprivation that can tank your motivation. On the other hand, reminding yourself you “don’t” eat certain foods feels more empowering.Think thin The way you think about food and your body can determine your success at sticking to a healthy diet. Over a 10-year span, 59% of women who started out with an average body mass index (BMI) of 20 but thought they were overweight, wound up packing on weight and watching their BMI swell to more than 25. That weight gain likely happened because of a self-fulfilling prophecy, says Susan Albers, psychologist at The Cleveland Clinic and the author of Eating Mindfully and 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.
“Your mindset is incredibly important in giving up or getting on track with your weight,” she says.
“So if you think you are not overweight, regardless of your actual weight, you will act in ways that lead you to what you already believe.”
Be a straight shooter
They might look stylish, but swanky, curved drinking glasses on your table could lead to extra weight. A British study found that people consumed 60% more alcohol, sugary sodas, and juices if the glass they drank from was curvy, rather than a straight tumbler. The researchers speculate that people drink faster from the curvy glasses because it’s harder to tell when you’re at the halfway point, meaning you’re more likely to reach for another drink sooner and end up consuming more.