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12 Simple Ways to Eat Less and Feel Better

usda my plate-984891711_v2.grid-4x2Do you eat when you’re bored? Stressed? Or wait until you feel starved and then overeat? Is it hard to judge portions, or do you end up with super-sized meals at restaurants?

Many factors can contribute to how much you eat. The good news is that you can control most of these factors and eventually turn them into healthy eating habits.

Here are 12 simple ways you can eat less on a daily basis and feel better about what you eat:

Serve yourself healthy foods first.
Load your plate up with the healthiest food choices first. Whether you’re eating at home, a restaurant or a buffet line, dish up the veggies, whole grains, and fruits before the fattier meats or side dishes. Then, you can go back and sample a few less healthy options or have a small dessert.

Use smaller plates and bowls.
The size of your dishes gives your brain cues on how much you’re “supposed” to eat. The bigger the dish means that you can have more food. In a study, people at a Chinese buffet who got a large plate served themselves 52% more food, and ate 45% more of it, than those who had smaller plates.

Use taller glasses.
Just like less food looks like more food on a smaller plate, height makes things look larger than width, even if the volume of both glasses is the same. You can cut down on liquid calories by choosing taller glasses rather than shorter, fatter ones.

Eat protein for breakfast.
Most studies recommend eating breakfast every day to help kick start your metabolism. But, you only get the true benefits of breakfast if it’s high in protein. More protein can suppress your appetite and reduce subsequent eating throughout the day. Skip the pancakes and waffles, and grab an omelet instead.

Eat three meals a day.
While we’ve all heard that we should eat more, smaller meals throughout the day, research is showing that three bigger meals a day may still be the best way to control your appetite. However, skipping meals will make controlling your appetite more difficult. If you eat healthy at regular meals, you shouldn’t need any additional food.

Hide unhealthy snacks.
Studies have shown that people eat a lot more food when the food is visible, rather than putting it away where it can’t be seen. The harder food is to get to may also deter some of your snacking habits. Even better yet, keep tempting junk foods out of the house. And, on the flip side, keep healthy foods prominently displayed and easy to reach.

Order the “small” choice.
A larger container or plate can tempt you to eat more food. You may be full or even think it doesn’t taste that good, and still feel obligated to eat it. When it comes to movie popcorn, french fries, or fountain drinks, choose the smallest size option and you’ll eat less.

Take a doggy bag.
Restaurant portions are most likely going to set you up to overeat. You want a good deal for your money, but those large portions can contain more than 1,200 calories without including dessert. One trick is to divide the food on your plate in half before you start eating. Then stop eating when you’ve finished half and ask for a to-go container. You’ll have a healthier meal and leftovers for tomorrow.

Pack your lunch for work.
Even better than eating out for lunch during the week, pack your own lunch. You will be able to control the portions and select a balance of healthy foods. It’s also more cost effective and can help ensure that you eat those leftovers.

Know your weaknesses.
We all have food weaknesses. The food you can’t resist. The food you can’t stop eating. Or the food you eat even if you’re not hungry. Think about your food weaknesses. Once you recognize what they are, you can learn to avoid eating them. Don’t buy them at the grocery store. Bypass the co-worker who always brings yummy homemade desserts. You can avoid the food until you gain the strength to give up the craving.

Don’t eat from a package.
When you can’t see how much you’re eating, you’re more likely eat double or triple the proper portion. Who can eat just one potato chip out of the bag? Use a plate, bowl or even a napkin so that you can see how much you’re going to eat. And put the package away so you won’t be tempted to dump out more.

Eat slowly and savor your food.
Eating should be enjoyable. There is a benefit to slowing down and appreciating your food. Take your time between bites and chew thoroughly. When you eat more slowly, you can recognize when you’re beginning to feel full. You can stop eating before you clean your plate and feel too full. Drink water while you’re eating. These simple steps can help you cut back on unnecessary calories.

By following these simple tips, you can learn to eat less, still feel full and feel better about your eating habits.

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11 Healthy Eating Habits for 2014

Eat breakfast every day healthy eating habitsI love to eat. And I like to eat junk. Give me potato chips, brownies and pie a la mode. That was okay until I hit 40 years old. Then, things started to change. My butt became more jiggily and my belly got paunchier.

I need to change my eating habits for better health. There is no magic diet or easy fix. It’s all about finding balance in your diet, and balance in your life in general.

Healthy eating comes down to creating healthy habits. Let’s face it: with all the fast food and junk food options available, it can be hard to resist giving in to bad eating habits.

You can make lifelong changes to how and what you eat. But, it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to make good habits stick.

Here are 11 healthy eating tips to help you on the path to a balanced lifestyle:

Eat breakfast every day
Most people who have achieved and maintained their weight loss goals, eat breakfast every morning. Your morning meal will jump start your metabolism and give you the energy to tackle the day. Eating breakfast can also help you absorb more vitamins and minerals. You are less likely to have a hunger attack during the day when you’ve had a healthy breakfast.

Eat more often
When you eat more often – usually every 2 to 3 hours – you keep your stress hormone cortisol at a steady level. High cortisol levels tell your body to start storing fat, typically in your belly region. Skipping meals sends your cortisol levels off the charts. Eating 6 small meals a day can help you lose weight and feel better.

Eat moderate portions
However, if you are eating more often, you need to eat moderate portions. Eating more often doesn’t give you a license to eat more. It’s about letting your body digest and use energy more efficiently throughout the day.

Drink water
I know we have blogged about this many times. Drinking water affects so many areas of your health. It keeps your body working in homeostasis and aids in almost every aspect of your body’s functions. And we don’t mean soda, iced tea or energy drinks – just plain old water.

Know your diet downfalls
We all have our diet downfalls. You may salt everything you eat. You might crave sugar when you get tired or stressed. You may add a lot of butter or dressings to your food. We all have our bad eating habits. I love sweets. I would like to eat dessert with every meal and as a snack. Make it a goal to break these bad eating habits.

Reduce (not eliminate) unhealthy choices
At the same time, you want to enjoy your meals. If you try to cut out all the bad food choices at once, you will become disheartened by your healthy eating habits very quickly. Make it a point to moderate the less healthy choices. Eat a small piece of cake, or salt your food half as much as you normally would. As you adjust to better eating and start feeling better, you will find you miss those unhealthy foods less than you think.

Listen to your body
When you start to feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack. When you feel full, stop eating. Because we have food available all the time, we tend to eat when we’re bored, lonely or stressed.

Sit down for dinner
Make it a point to sit down to dinner every evening. You can talk with your family or friends about the ups and downs of the day. Or, simply listen to everyone else. If you live alone, you can still sit down and enjoy your meal – rather than grazing or eating over the sink. Sitting down to a meal helps you relax, connect with others and enjoy your food.

Plan to have setbacks
You will fall off the healthy wagon, so to speak. You’ll pig out from time to time. You’ll have three donuts at work after you just had breakfast. You’ll salt that already salty food. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you have failed. Tomorrow is a new day to get back on track to creating balanced eating habits.

Set a bedtime routine
While it may not seem to have anything to do with healthy eating habits, a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health and wellness. In addition, going to bed and waking up around the same time every day can help set your body’s natural rhythms. You will feel more rested and less likely to become stressed or turn to food for comfort or an energy boost during the day.

Find your balance over time
Healthier eating habits take time. There is no quick fix. It’s about changing your mindset and relationship with food. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Every healthy change you make to your diet matters. Even if you can’t completely give up sweets, salt or fatty foods, reducing how much you eat or how often you eat it, still helps you on your path to a more balanced diet. And creating a more balanced life!