By Donna Fennessy
Believe it or not, losing weight doesn’t have to take all your will power—or even all your brain power. You can actually make small and painless changes to your lifestyle to create an environment that encourages healthy habits that will help you peel off pounds. “Many people try to be aware of food and their intake, but we have so much going on that it can feel overly burdensome. Then, we end up giving up,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating (Bantam). “The key to losing weight is to mindlessly lose weight.” You can do this by changing your environment using these slimming strategies:
Figure out your downfall. There are five major areas where people tend to overeat: At meals, during snacks, at parties, at restaurants or at your desk or car. In general, most people will find that they struggle with one or two of these areas. So the easiest thing to do is determine which of these trip you up the most and try to focus on those. Come up with a list of three small changes you can make that will help you overcome this eating obstacle, and aim to do these three things every day for a month. This will help you bring your eating back under control.
Dish it out. This is an easy trick: Instead of serving food family style (large plates loaded with food that you leave on the table so people can easily go back for seconds, thirds and more), try dishing it out onto individual plates from the stove or counter. “We tend to over-serve,” Wansink says, “and that’s bad because we eat 20 to 30 percent more of anything that’s served family style.”
Pick the perfect plate. We tend to judge fullness by relying on visual cues, such as a clean plate. Using smaller plates for your smaller portions will help you feel more satisfied and can prevent overeating.
Mindlessly eat better. “About a third of the people we counsel don’t want to eat less—they simply want to mindlessly eat better,” Wansink says. To do this, keep nutritious snacks on hand. Nibbling away on baby carrots or pepper sticks is much safer and healthier than reaching into a giant bag of chips.