Many of us routinely enter information into a food tracker to know exactly how many calories we are eating every day. We enter our workout information and sync our smart watches. Sometimes we get frustrated when the foods we ate are not in the tracker, or we can’t decide which option to pick. Sometimes we can’t believe how much time it takes to enter everything (who has time to cook from scratch when it takes so much time to enter each recipe). Often we either give up or we lie to the tracker (I’m sure that was only 5 potato chips). There must be an easier way to lose weight. Fortunately there is.
Rather than measure everything you eat and count every calorie, there is an easier way to track portions. Precision Nutrition suggests using the hand as the guide. For women a handy guide is that each meal should contain a palm sized portion of protein, a fist sized portion of vegetables, a cupped handful of carbohydrates, and a thumb size amount of fat. I find it also helps to use a smaller plate. Researchers have found that people actually consume less when they start with a smaller plate.
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send out signals that you are full. If you eat quickly then you will be full before you know it. I’m sure you’ve experienced that overfull feeling when you wished you had stopped sooner. Studies have shown that people who eat slower consume less. Eating slower also gives you time to enjoy and really taste the meal. Eating slower is also better for your digestion.
You can eat slower by putting down your fork in between bites, by sharing a conversation with family or friends or by using a slow eating app.
Mindful eating means paying attention to what you are eating. Many of our meals are consumed while watching TV, driving, or checking our Facebook status. This can also lead to overeating because we don’t notice how much we are eating, or when we are full or even what the food tastes like. I wrote a complete blog post on this topic. Read it here.
Most vegetables are naturally low in calories, but high in vitamins and minerals. It is easy to fill up on them. If you grew up on mushy green peas or iceberg lettuce, I can understand how you don’t find vegetables very appetizing. But there are so many choices now and cooking techniques have evolved. Check out my blog post on eating more vegetables here.
The great thing with eating more vegetables is they can help to crowd out less healthy (and calorie dense) foods. They can also have a high water content so help to keep you hydrated and feeling full.
Our beverage choices can be very high in calories. Soft drinks, fruit juices, specialty coffees and alcoholic beverages are all poor choices when it comes to keeping hydrated. By choosing water or plain tea you won’t be consuming the empty calories in many beverages.
Smoothies can be healthy, but can also be very energy dense. Consider a smoothie to be a meal.
Whole foods are foods which are minimally processed, as close to nature as possible. By eating more whole foods, and less highly processed foods you will likely start to lose weight. Processed foods can contain a lot of sugar, unhealthy fats and salt. They seem to made to be just satisfying enough to keep you eating, but not enough to make you want to stop eating.
Try preparing things ahead of time to make using less processed foods easier. And chose your processed foods strategically. Think simple and wholesome.
Calorie counts on cardio machine are often inaccurate. They don’t take into account your individual metabolic rate and are just estimates, even if you have entered things like age, weight and sex. Don’t use them as a justification for eating more.
Do consider exercise as part of your overall weight loss strategy. Weight training increases muscle mass, which increases metabolism. Do it because it makes you feel better, helps prevent chronic disease and makes you look better, not because you burn a certain amount of calories according to the number on the treadmill.
These are just a few ways that you can lose weight without counting calories, so you can spend your time preparing healthy meals and not counting calories. If you want more help with weight loss download this free guide to weight loss during menopause. You can also join my free Facebook group here.