Regardless of what you hear from dieting websites, marketers, or infomercials, losing the pounds is not an easy mission. Whether your goal is to really shed substantial weight, or shake those last few pounds, some little tricks of the trade out there can help you tackle those calories without your stomach noticing.
After reading through many of these clever ‘bite-sized’ strategies from the health gurus at Health.com, Huffington Post, and Boston.com, we chose our favorite ways to cut calories and burn a few more each day.
1. Step Away From the Nuts
Especially if they’re in a big bowl. The bigger the serving bowl, the more you’ll eat, Cornell University researchers say. Nuts have heart-healthy fats, but they’re also high in calories: 1 handful (about 1 ounce) of oil-roasted mixed nuts has 175 calories; 3 handfuls have 525. Cut out nuts altogether and save more than 500 calories. Can’t resist ’em? Eat pistachios: 2 handfuls are just 159 calories, and the shelling will slow down your munching.
2. Don’t Eat in Front of the TV
You’ll eat up to 288 calories more, according to research from the University of Massachusetts. Instead, eat at the table, and trade 1 hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that’s 527 calories burned.
3. Limit Salad Toppings
A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than lasagna or fettuccine Alfredo. Cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, dried fruit, croutons, and vinaigrettes can add lots of calories. Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms), and using half the dressing.
4. Use Smaller Plates
Swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. You’ll eat 20 to 25% less—and save up to 500 calories. You won’t feel any less full, either, researchers say.
5. Count Your Chips (and Crackers)
No, you can’t eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it’s waaaay too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. (Remember Oprah’s blue corn–tortilla chip confession?) A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.
6. Serve and Sit
Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds. Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too.
7. Skinny Up Cocktails
Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices, and creamy additions turn drinks into desserts: an indulgent Mudslide can have more than 800 calories. Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice, or a squeeze of citrus; or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You’ll save up to 800 calories.
8. Don’t Clean Your Plate
Leave 25% of your food on the plate at every meal, says weight-loss expert James O. Hill, PhD, author of The Step Diet. Save what’s remaining as leftovers for a yummy lunch the next day. If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you’ll cut 500 calories.
*Calories above are based on a 140-150 lb. person