Losing weight comes down to three main factors: exercise, food, and mindset
Our brains, more often than not, get in the way of our weight loss goals
Let’s face it—there’s no single, magical way to lose weight. Everyone’s body is different, which means everyone’s optimal diet is also different. But essentially, losing weight comes down to three main factors: exercise, food, and mindset. That last one can be the most challenging to conquer. Our brains, more often than not, get in the way of our weight loss goals, and make us think we’re hungry when in reality we’re just bored, tired, dehydrated, or something else. But your brain doesn’t have to be a diet saboteur; in fact, there are plenty of ways to manipulate yourself into achieving your weight-loss goals. Read on for a rundown of proven ways to eat less, painlessly.
Keep a healthy snack on hand
Fast food or something from a vending machine may call your name when hunger strikes on the go. But if you keep a healthy snack like an apple or granola bar in your bag or glove compartment, you won’t have to sacrifice your diet to silence a grumbling stomach. Even if you pass an ice cream shop when your hunger pangs strike, you should be safe: a study published in the journal Appetite found when people are craving something unhealthy, they’ll still snack on whatever food is most accessible.
Keep a journal
Would you still eat that chocolate muffin if you had to log it in a food diary? Research says maybe not. A Kaiser Permanente study found people who kept a daily food journal lost twice as much weight over the course of six months than those who didn’t record their meals. Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women who kept food journals lost, on average, six pounds more than women who were simply part of diet and exercise groups. Researchers believe writing down what you eat makes you more aware of food choices, and therefore encourages cutting the calories you’d otherwise sneak in.
Just keep chewing
Your Doublemint habit may help you keep off the pounds. One study discovered that women who chewed gum for 45 minutes after they ate lunch ended up keeping snack cravings at bay later in the day. Bonus: Sugar-free gum helps clean teeth by stimulating saliva production.
Put a mirror in your dining room
Researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that eating unhealthy food in front of a mirror can make it taste less delicious. Watching yourself eat junk food triggers discomfort, since you’re suddenly very aware of the unhealthy choice. So if you’re seeking an easy way to boost your weight-loss goals, consider picking up a new decorative mirror for your dining room or kitchen. It could help you (quite literally) watch what you eat.
Pick your handbag wisely
Carry a clutch whenever you attend a party where there’s food (in other words, every party). Since you’ll only have one free hand, it’ll be harder to mindlessly snag unhealthy bites, explained Jessica Dogert, RD, dietitian at Fitness Formula Clubs Lincoln Park in Chicago, in a previous interview with Health. To really keep yourself from reaching for a treat, hold a drink in your other hand (something that’s not loaded with sugar, like seltzer). Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to totally deprive yourself at a shindig, but keeping your hands full will force you to make more deliberate, mindful food choices.
Curb hunger with coffee
You may think you’re just drinking your daily cup of joe for a morning pick-me-up, but in reality, it’s doing more than just giving you a caffeine boost. Drinking coffee can actually boost your calorie burn by 12%, according to findings in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Plus, it’s a natural appetite suppressant. But be wary of adding sugar and cream, since too many extras will kill your coffee perks.
Count your bites
Counting calories can help you slim down, but it can also be time-consuming (and to some, frustrating) to jot down every bite. Try counting your bites instead, which a recent study found actually works. Study participants lost an average of 3.4 pounds over the course of a month by reducing their daily bites by 20 to 30%. Even just tracking how many times you bring your hand to your mouth to take a bite will help you be more mindful of how much you’re eating, which may help you drop pounds.
Three’s a charm
Whether it’s a gooey brownie a plate of cheesy nachos, go ahead and indulge—but limit yourself to three bites, advised Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, New Jersey–based registered dietitian, in an earlier interview with Health. “Slowly savor those three bites and you should be satisfied.” While showing enough restraint to only take three bites may seem insane, there is a method to her madness. Harris-Pincus explained the first bite will most likely live up to your expectations, but the second won’t be as good as the first. By the time yo