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5 ways to eat less (without feeling hungry!)

Updated on February 16, 2011


It is estimated that in the 2010-11 financial year Australians will spend $789.6 million dollars on trying to lose weight.  Most of them won’t succeed. This is despite being bombarded with messages from the media about the risks of excess weight. The cult of weight loss is even engrained in popular culture with television shows such as The Biggest Loser. And Australians do need to lose weight. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that over half of Australian adults are now over weight or obese up from 38% in 1990.


The common recommendation for people wanting to lose weight is to eat less and move more. However such simplistic advice often does not help.  How exactly can one eat less and not feel deprived?   People need specific techniques that they can implement to change their lifestyle permanently.  Below are 5 techniques I use to help me eat less.  I’ve lost 12kgs over the past 10 months.

1. Eat slowly

Eat slowly, really slowly! Eating too quickly doesn't allow your body to register when it is satisfied. This is a skill that must be learnt and it will take practise. First make sure that you are sitting down to eat your meals. Nothing encourages mindless gobbling more than eating on the run. As you take each bite, be sure to put your cutlery down, chew your food completely and then swallow before going back for the next bite. This may seem obvious however pay attention next time you eat. Do you put more food in your mouth before completely swallowing what was already in there? Are you ready with the fork to put more in your mouth the moment it’s empty? It’s a bad habit that is easier to slip into than you think. If you are eating with others take the time to talk between mouthfuls. This will encourage you to stretch out your meal even further. Eating slowly gives your stomach time to register that it is full and means that you’ll be less likely to go back for another serve and you may even find that you don’t need to serve as large a portion to be satisfied.

2. Pack up the leftovers

If you are one of those people who always cook like they are feeding an army it can be hard to resist the urge to go back for seconds (thirds anyone?). Packing up your leftovers, while dishing up the main meal, is the perfect solution. Doing this as dinner is being served, into individual containers and putting these straight into the freezer means that the family will have meals on hand for lunches or for dinners at a later date when you can’t be bothered cooking. It’s easier even than ordering takeaway and you know exactly what is in the meal. It will stop not only going back for seconds but also stop that later in the evening snacking when opening the fridge and just having a little bite won’t hurt…


Freezing your leftovers will make you less likely to order fast food


Do you go back for a second helping after finishing your main meal?

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3.  Keep a food journal

Of all of the things that people try to lose weight the most successful technique is keeping a food journal. Food journals work because they keep you accountable.  Sometimes just the simple act of knowing that anything that passes your lips must be written down will stop you from eating the extras that you know you don’t need.  The key here is to be honest with yourself, not only about what you eat but how much. 

Food journals can also be useful for pinpointing your triggers for over eating.  Do you eat out of boredom, because of stress or for comfort?  A food journal will help you see patterns in your eating and this will help you to break bad habits.


4. Bring a plate

Does a social event undo all of your good work? If you are anything like me a plate of food in front of me to too much temptation to take.  A solution to this is to bring a plate. If nibbles are your downfall take along a plate of vegetable crudités and a low fat dip.  If dessert is something that you can’t pass up take a fruit based dessert to share. Does the creamy potato salad at a barbeque take precedent over the boring green salad? Take a bowl to share with a low fat dressing with some added vegetables like green beans or peas. While you might over indulge at a social event taking a plate will at least limit the damage.  


5. Eat more

Sounds ridiculous in an article about eating less but it’s all about what you eat more of.  Try bulking out your meals with more salad and vegetables.  There are lots of books on the market for parents trying to hide vegetables from their kids in creative ways so why not try it out on yourself.  Start by adding grated carrot and zucchini to pasta sauce, barbequing some vegetables along with your steaks or swapping an afternoon chocolate for fruit salad with yoghurt. You might end up eating more in volume but you’ll feel fuller for longer and be lighter in the long run.


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