Evening time can be a challenge for calorie control! When eating at home, we sometimes find ourselves munching endlessly after dinner. Is there a way to control this? The answer is yes - and tips are below. Eating out can also be a challenge - it can be an enjoyable, yet “dangerous” experience! How can we enjoy ourselves, have fun with friends in a relaxed setting, savor delicious food, but also avoid sabotaging our healthy routine? Can we eat out, without regret? The answer again is yes, especially if we plan ahead a bit, using a few key strategies. Here are ten quick tips to stay in control.
- Do not “starve yourself” to save calories for dinner - it will backfire. Bring protein snacks with you to work if going out to eat right after work, and consider eating them in the late afternoon on eat-at-home nights.
- Before eating dinner or heading out to a restaurant, drink 8-16 ounces of water, and consider taking a fiber supplement containing soluble fiber. Fiber creates fullness even before you eat, via the “Volumetrics Effect” - the soluble fiber acts like a sponge, holding water in your stomach, stretching the greater curvature of the stomach, and turning down the “hunger hormone” called ghrelin. Fiber also “delays gastric emptying” (keeps food in your stomach longer), so you will feel full for a longer time after your meal, as well - this can help with after-dinner desert cravings. The fullness signal takes 20-45 minutes to start. These strategies will give time and enhance fullness signaling. Fiber also helps lower the glycemic index of your subsequent meal, which means that your blood sugar will rise more gradually, instead of "spiking and crashing", helping control your appetite and blood glucose levels. (For more on fiber see: http://healthyweightcenter.blogspot.com/2015/02/fiber-and-weight-loss-new-research.html and http://healthyweightcenter.blogspot.com/2015/06/high-fiber-low-carb-foods-for-weight.html?q=soluble+fiber
- Once at the dinner table, drink 8 more ounces of water before eating anything else.
- Do not start with bread, butter, or alcohol. Instead have an appetizer with protein and fiber. (Ideas: shrimp cocktail, salad, chicken satay.) If you really crave bread and butter, have it WITH your main meal, not before.
- Consider having broth-based soup before the meal (not heavy cream soup). Research suggests soup may help you eat less during the meal. Be cautious if you are salt/sodium-sensitive. Some sodium-free or low-sodium brands are Pacific Organic, Trader Joes, and Imagine Organic.
- If you plan to drink alcohol, eat your protein and fiber first, and sip your alcohol during your meal. Choose your drink carefully, so you do not ruin a full day of calorie control.
The above steps will help PORTION CONTROL during your meal.
- When eating out, if you get a chance, check out the menu ahead of time, so you can make informed decisions, and stay in your healthy calorie range. Choose a lean protein, such as skinless chicken breast or seafood, that is grilled, baked, broiled, or blackened. Have the protein on a salad, or with double steamed vegetables on the side. A salad could include greens, fat-free feta/mozzarella cheese, 1-2 tsp. Olive oil and vinegar, and chicken. Consider ordering a healthy appetizer as a meal, for better portion sizes (most restaurant meals have more than 1000 calories...ridiculous!)
- When eating at home, keep dinner simple. Minimize your stress and “decision fatigue” with pre-planning: choose a healthy recipe ahead of time, and stock up your freezer and pantry. Select recipes that are easy go-to choices, simple to prepare, satisfying and leave decision making out. We have links to healthy options if you'd like - just ask! (Read more about "decision fatigue" here: http://healthyweightcenter.blogspot.com/2014/10/decision-fatigue-make-choices-easier.html )
- When eating out, consider sharing a meal with your partner (or bring half home), and sharing dessert, as well! When eating at home, serve your portion, then save the rest for lunch tomorrow!
- Dessert or night snack- use our "remove and replace" strategy, swapping healthier options in, and less healthy out. Some choices for night desserts that are sweet tasting with protein to help fullness: a frozen VHP shake, protein pudding, Enlightened bar, Yasso Bar, berries with whipped topping, or a protein hot chocolate with whipped topping.
Enjoy - don’t forget this! Food should be fun. Our goal is not perfection, but to be “good enough”!
We are here to help! For more ideas, and customized lifestyle plans, call us any time: (603) 379-6500. Read more about our program at healthyweightcenter.com