I've never been a big fan of counting calories. In fact, in the past year, I have lost about 30 pounds without counting a single dietary digit. Sure, I know recording everything you put in your mouth can help peel off pounds, but I also know that obsessing over calories makes you more likely to eat lowfat, low-fiber foods that wouldn't satiate a starling.
Instead of crunching numbers, I munched on healthy food to become a weight loss success. If a food lover like me can do it, you can, too! Try these tips:
• Pick up produce. Have at least one fruit and veggie at every meal. On busy days when I know my lunch won't have a smidge of green in it, I have two fruits at breakfast; I toss berries or peaches into my nonfat Greek yogurt and sprinkle it with granola. I love asparagus, green pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, sprouts, endive and more. Fruits and veggies are high in fiber, which staves off hunger. Shoot for nine servings daily. It sounds like a lot, but if you don't have to be a rabbit to reach that goal. Eat a salad at lunch or dinner, and you're there.
• Snack smart. Add protein (such as a stick of lowfat string cheese or Parmesan) to your between-meal bites. Research suggests protein may enhance the effect of leptin, a hormone that reins in appetite. I love hummus and dip veggies into it instead of pita bread or crackers. Protein is also filling and can help curb cravings for chips, cookies and the like.
• Sip more water. Dieters who swapped sugary drinks for water lose weight, but those who gulped the most H20 peeled off the most pounds, according to a study at the meeting of Obesity Society in Boston. Don’t love agua? Try the flavored kind but check the label for sugar content (it should be below 8 grams per serving).
• Map out your meals. A little attention to portions can help you eat less and still stay satisfied. Start by using a salad dish (8 inches in diameter) and divide it into quarters to help keep helpings healthy. Half the plate should get veggies, top another quarter with lean protein (3 to 6 ounces of fish, chicken or tofu) and the last quarter with whole grains (1/2 to 1 cup of brown rice, sweet potatoes or whole wheat pasta).
• Eat every meal. When you wait longer than five hours between bites, your body may release extra cortisol, a hormone that can increase appetite. I call it "hangry." I get hungry and angry: My stomach starts to burn and my brain gets annoyed at every little thing. Then I eat whatever is in front of me, usually a cookie or other sweet, empty-calorie treat. I realize I'm putting out the "hangry" fires, but it is better not to get there in the first place!
For additional tips on eating healthy without hating it (and shedding pounds in the process), check out SELF's Eat Like Me blog, by Cristin Dillon, R.D.