5 small diet tweaks that maximize results
The little diet changes that go a long way
The prospect of having a diet overhaul is understandably rather daunting. Often, you want results but you don’t want to have to sacrifice everything in the process. Take note of these five small diet tweaks for maximum results. It doesn’t always have to be all or nothing.
The name is rather apt in this instance; ‘mind’ and ‘full’ are useful terms in helping you remember to pay attention to your levels of fullness when eating. But more specifically, mindfulness teaches individuals to be more aware of their mind and body and to focus on the present moment. This practice can come in handy when you’re tucking into a meal, as mindfulness techniques will help you to relax in order to aid digestion; to take your time to enjoy your food; and most importantly to recognize when you have had a sufficient amount. Being mindful could help you identify when you’re actually hungry too, rather than simply bored, upset or thirsty. Likewise, Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules, points out that "If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not hungry." Blunt but true, don’t you think?
Ditch the drink
According to drinkaware.co.uk, a 250ml glass of wine can contain as many calories as four cookies, which is why the average wine drinker can consume around 2000 extra calories each month. With these stats in mind it makes sense to curb your alcohol consumption if you want to trim down. And it’s not just the alcohol itself that’s the problem (even though it does contain 7 calories per gram); alcohol has a knack of heightening temptation for fattening snacks, not forgetting that hangovers don’t exactly inspire exercise. Make a small tweak by finding new ways to relax and unwind aside from alcohol, such as taking a bath, going for a brisk walk or keeping alcohol for weekends only (but don’t binge drink to make up for the past five days!).
Hide the treats
A study conducted by Cornell University found that participants ate 70 per cent more sugary treats when they were stored in a transparent container rather than an opaque one. They do say ‘out of sight, out of mind’, so it’s probably a good idea to go one step further and keep containers of treats out of sight completely. Making small tweaks to your weekly shop could also help you avoid excess calories and fat; it may sound obvious, but if you haven’t got temptations lurking in your cupboards then you can’t eat them! Simply leave the chocolate and pizzas in the shops so that the next time you’re watching a DVD and are struck with a craving, you will have to make do with fruit or a cup of tea.
Prepare your own food
Are you a sucker for eating out or buying your lunch for work? According to a 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, those who eat out for lunch even once a week lose 5 pounds less on average than those who don’t. A separate study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre studied the eating habits of 123 overweight women for one year. Researcher Anne McTiernan and the team behind the study explained that ‘eating in restaurants usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes.’ Make the small change of preparing your own lunch for work – even if it’s only for two or three out of the five days – and limit restaurant dining to once a week to avoid those extra large portion sizes.
Keep a food journal to help you spot hidden calorie consumption and poor diet choices. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women who keep a food journal lose six pounds more on average than if they were ignorant of their eating habits. Be honest in your diary – there’s not point cheating yourself – and try to take note of portion sizes, food labels, hunger levels and moods. Include all of your ‘slipups’ as well as your healthy choices; this will help paint a picture of your diet as a whole and your tendencies. Ellie Kreiger, author of Small Changes, Big Results, advises to write a letter to yourself detailing the reasons you want to make positive changes to act as a reminder to “keep you on track when you’re tempted to stray”.