My gym is more crowded than ever as many work towards beach-ready bodies.  While in the gym, I saw a poster which said, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”  This started me thinking of some concrete recommendations that I could share with you to assist in reaching your goals.  Here are a few pointers.

Drink Plenty of Water 

Often people mistake thirst for hunger! While it’s crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day, drinking an 8-16 ounce glass of water before each meal can help you feel full, and therefore, consume less.

If you’re looking for more flavor, add a dash of lemon juice.  Lemon juice also acts as a digestive aid. 

Soups can also do the trick. Studies have proven that consuming soup before meals can reduce the amount of calories consumed at that meal. Make sure to opt for broth-based soups full of veggies.  To my Caribbean readers, fewer dumplings and more veggies (i.e., callaloo, pumpkin, cabbage).

Keep the Bag in the Pantry 

We’ve most likely all done it at some point…sat down with a bag of chips or tub of ice cream, and next thing we know…it’s empty! Even those with the strongest will-power are more likely to overeat if they eat straight out of the container. Despite telling ourselves “one more bite,” that one bite can easily turn into 10 or 20!

To avoid this, you can buy many items pre-portioned, but these are usually more expensive (and require accurate label checking to see how many servings it is). So, another tip is to pre-portion your food.  That way you will know how much you’re eating and won’t be as tempted to eat more. 

To make things more convenient, designate a day of the week where you portion out snacks and meals so that during the busier days you have them readily available.  While participating in an HCG weight loss program, my best friend satisfied her sugar cravings by pre-portioning homemade desserts in small ramekins dishes. She would allow herself one mini ramekin of dessert per day.  It satisfied her sweet tooth and improved her compliance with the program.  In four months she went from a size 18 to 8.  

Downsize your Dishes

My father was born and raised in Barbados of very humble means. He always insisted that my siblings and I eat all the food on our plates. As children, we would always hear stories of him not having the luxury of being wasteful.  While this strategy gave perspective to stubborn and entitled American-born children, many of our brains are now wired this way and unfortunately, our plates are holding more food than we really need. One solution? Use smaller plates.

The larger the plate, the more food we’re likely to pile on (and consequently eat). Studies convey that when smaller dishes and utensils are used, less food is served and consumed. Fill your plates with vegetables and lean proteins, then add a dash of whole grains.

Don’t Keep Meals on the Table

Keep the bowl or pan that meals are made in off the dinner table. If food is in front of you, it’s easy to grab more right when the plate is empty without even stopping to assess whether you’re still hungry. Before you get up for “seconds,” wait a little.  You may actually be full from the first helping!

Similarly, when you dine out, the meal you order is most likely 2-4 servings. Even after we’re full, if our plates of food remain in front of us, we’re more apt to keep eating. Therefore, when ordering, ask to have half of your meal boxed up and brought out with the check, and enjoy your leftovers later!

Slow Down! Engage in Mindful Eating!

Focus on your food (and company if you’re eating with others). Don’t allow distractions like television, phones, or computers during mealtime. These types of distractions take our attention away from our food, and we’re more likely to eat mindlessly.

Don’t scarf down food quickly! Take time to chew and enjoy the smells, tastes, and textures. Slowing down and enjoying the experience of eating will help us appreciate the food itself and also know when to stop.