According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.” The average moderately active adult needs between 1,800 and 2,200 calories a day to maintain his or her current weight and must either consume less or exercise more for weight loss. The good news is, cutting calories doesn’t have to be about refusing your favorite desserts or restricting yourself to tiny portions of unpalatable food; just a few simple changes can make a significant difference in your calorie intake.
Eat filling, satisfying food. Even while dieting, it’s extremely important to feel satisfied after eating or you’re just not going to stick to it. Opt for lower-calorie fillers such as cucumbers and wild rice, and take it easy on the meat. Have the urge for fried food? Try low-calorie replacements like shredded zucchini instead of those hash browns. Don’t be afraid to use spices to make food more savory and satisfying. Studies indicate that “hot” spices such as black pepper and cayenne may help reduce your appetite as well.
Reduce extras. Even small amounts of creamy salad dressing, croutons, bacon bits or other little tidbits can rack up the calories fast. Consider using vinaigrettes or salad spritzers instead of creamy peppercorn or ranch dressings, try other spices instead of extra meat and cheese, and use thinner slices of bread (another common calorie-hider) for sandwiches and toast.
Drink water with every meal. If you’re hungry all the time and can’t find the cause, examine your water-drinking habits. Many times when the body craves water, it triggers the brain in the same way as food cravings. In addition, water fills up extra space in the stomach for people who are used to the “stuffed” feeling after meals. Consider taking about half of the food you think you want in the first plate full, drink about 12 ounces of water, and then go back for seconds only if you’re still hungry.