The Un-Diet

Featured Article, News and Advice, Nutrition
on February 18, 2011
Mark Boughton

With a calendar chock full of delicious events (not to mention wedding season right around the corner), no one wants to feel like they’re watching their weight, well, ever. Fear not. Here’s cause for celebration: When it comes to staying slim, research shows that by making small, barely noticeable environmental tweaks, you will take in far fewer calories—deprivation not required. Read on for easy ways to pull a fast one on yourself while reaping the waistline benefits.

At a wedding:

•   Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or seltzer. Not only does that Appletini pack more calories than its fruity name suggests, but getting tipsy also makes you more likely to veer off your healthy eating plan.

•   Stand at least six feet from the pigs in blankets. Research shows that that’s the distance that keeps people from going back for seconds (and thirds!).

•   Shake it on the dance floor. A 150-pound woman burns more than 300 calories in just one hour of dancing. What’s more, if you’re busy boogieing, you’re not filling up on prime rib. Double win!

At the Chinese all-you-can-eat:

•   Use a salad plate. Most of us fill our dishes. Smaller plate? Smaller meal. Using a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch one could result in more than a 20 percent decrease in calories eaten, revealed research from Cornell University.

•   Back away from the buffet. According to a 2008 study in the research journal Obesity, people who are overweight sit around 16 feet closer to the food than their slimmer counterparts.

•   Scout it out. Before you fill your plate, browse the options. A good rule of thumb: Your serving should be 50 percent veggies, 25 percent protein, and 25 percent grains (bonus points for brown rice).

At your dinner party:

•   Start with soup. By front-loading a meal with a soup course, people take in around 20 percent fewer calories overall, according to research from Penn State. The key is to stick to a lower-calorie broth-based soup versus a calorie-dense creamy one. (Scroll down for 4 tasty options!)

•   Pre-plate meals. When food dishes are in front of you, it’s easy to reach over and refill your plate. Dishing out appropriate servings and leaving the leftovers in the kitchen makes you less likely to overeat.

•   Eat veggies family style. The exception to the rule: The one food you do want to fill up on is low-calorie, high-nutrient, and filling vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli and orange vegetables like carrots and squashes.