Practical Tips to Lose Weight

Many of us struggle with our weight. We wish we didn't have to, but the reality is we enjoy eating food. If you're not at the point of making big dietary changes, here are some tips that can help you with weight management without diet and exercise. Of course, you should be eating healthily; this is no license to go haywire! Here they are:

1. Chew your food thoroughly and slow down!

If you eat too fast, your brain hasn't had time to catch up to signal that you're full. It takes about 20 minutes for you to feel full. Have you ever been out to eat at a pizza place and you're so hungry, you eat three to four slices of thick-crusted pizza? It doesn't take long before you realize you've had way too much to eat, and stomach pain sets in. Takeaway: If you slow down to fully chew your food, you will eat less and still be comfortably full.

2. Use smaller plates.

Our plates have become larger than they were a few decades ago. If you use a small plate, your portion size will look bigger, and you'll be satisfied. If you put the same amount of food on a larger plate, you will feel deprived that you're not getting enough to eat, and you will want to add more food to your plate. Takeaway: Smaller plates that are filled with food will trick your brain into thinking you're eating a satisfying meal.

3. Eat plenty of protein.

We need protein to fuel our bodies and help build muscle, which in turn increases our metabolism. It helps us to stay full longer, reducing the need for snacking. In one study when protein was increased from 15% to 30%, the participants lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks without changing anything else.

If you're not eating protein for breakfast, you might want to consider switching out some of the grains for eggs or other protein. In another study, obese women, who enjoyed eggs for breakfast, ate fewer calories at lunch than those whose breakfasts were grain-based. They continued to eat fewer calories for the rest of the day and the following 36 hours. Besides eggs, other protein-rich foods include chicken breasts, fish, Greek yogurt, lentils, quinoa, and almonds. And there's nothing wrong with having your dinner for breakfast. Takeaway: By adding protein to your diet, you can create "automatic" weight loss without increased exercise or consciously decreasing calorie intake.

4. Keep unhealthy foods out of sight. Better yet, don't even have them at home.

If it's there, you'll want to eat it. Temptation will get the better of you, and chances are you'll succumb. Have healthy foods readily available - a fruit bowl on the table, cut up veggies in the fridge, almonds and walnuts (but not too many - 1/4 cup = 170 calories). Takeaway: Keep healthy food visible and unhealthy food out of sight, preferably out of the house!

5. Make sure to eat fiber-rich foods.

When you eat foods full of fiber, you stay full longer. Viscous fiber, found in plant foods, helps with weight loss by reducing food intake and increasing satiety. It forms a gel when it is mixed with water. This increases the time it takes for digestion and absorption of nutrients and slows down the emptying of your stomach. Foods with viscous fiber include beans, oat cereals, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, oranges, and flax seeds. Takeaway: Include more viscous fiber in your diet to slow down digest and keep you full longer.

6. Don't forget to drink water, especially before meals.

If you drink water before a meal, it can help you lose weight by eating less. Just by drinking two cups of water half an hour before mealtime, you'll reduce your hunger and eat less. You can lose 44% more weight in 12 weeks than if you didn't drink water. Better yet, if you are drinking sodas and/or juices and if you replace them with water, you'll get even better results. Takeaway: Drink water before meals.

7. Don't eat in front of electronics (TV, computers, smartphones).

When you eat, be mindful of what you're eating and what you are doing. If you mindlessly eat while watching TV or playing computer games, you'll eat a lot more than intended. And oftentimes, we choose junk food. When people are distracted during their meal, they tend to eat 25% more later in the day than if they weren't distracted. Takeaway: Distracted eating can lead to overeating and weight gain.

8. Decrease stress and get enough sleep.

In our busy lives, we can have a lot of stress and not get enough sleep. By having too much stress, we increase our cortisol levels, which cause us to reach for food, usually comfort food. When we don't get enough sleep and/or good quality sleep, it increases ghrelin, which makes us hungry, and it decreases leptin, which tells us when we are full. Takeaway: With poor sleep and too much stress, our hormones are out of whack, causing us to eat more. Get your sleep and find ways to manage stress.

9. Get rid of sugary drinks.

We can take in a lot of extra calories with soda and juices. Liquid calories don't cause us to feel full as solid food does. Somehow it doesn't register with our brains. Besides helping your weight by avoiding them, it can also provide long-term health benefits by reducing added sugar. Try spicing up water with different fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, etc.) and different herbs (basil, mint, or others). Takeaway: Sugary drinks can cause a higher risk of weight gain and disease.

10. If you must have some unhealthy snack foods, serve them on a red plate.

Volunteers in a study ate fewer pretzels from red plates than from blue or white ones. Perhaps it is because we associate the color red with stop. Takeaway: If you have to have unhealthy snacks (at times), use red plates.

There are a lot of suggestions here. Try one for a while until you assimilate it into your life. Then you can try another one. Over time, small changes can have a big impact on us. Try it; you'll like it!