I am a big fan of eating the food you love whether you are trying to lose weight or not. I can't stand "diet rules". Eat this, never eat that, count calories, count fats, weigh your food, exercise and so on. Not only do I detest all of those rules, but when one buckles down and adheres to a temporary and drastic regimen, how do they ever learn to maintain their weight loss? Studies show most people who "diet" gain all their weight back and then more.
Beginning in 1998 I lost 60 pounds eating all the foods I love. And then in order to maintain my weight all I had to do was allow myself a little more of all the foods I was already enjoying. Read How to Lose Weight Eating Foods You Love: How I Lost 60 Pounds where I share my success story with before and after photos.
Everything in Moderation
I am a firm believer of everything in moderation. For the sake of our health we need a balance of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and coconut oil, quality proteins and more. However, in a realistic world, what is life without the cheesy goodness of an enchilada, or a flavorful hamburger and fries? And don't even get me started on dessert. I rarely go a day without some form of chocolate at least once, usually twice. I avoid all foods labeled "low-fat", "non-fat", or "sugar-free". If it's naturally low in fat or sugar and I like the food, awesome, but I'm not going to waste my taste buds on low-fat dressing when I can have the real thing. I avoid toxic "fake sugar" like the plague and wouldn't buy partially hydrogenated margarine if you paid me. If I'm going to have a soda or butter, they're going to be the real deal.
On a side note, in an effort to be healthier I do use in natural sweeteners sometimes like stevia (I like the Truvia brand) and xylitol (I use Xylosweet). Many people are aware of the ill effects of Sweet & Low and Equal, but if you think Splenda is safe and natural, think again.
But I digress ...
The key to eating the foods you love while losing or maintaining weight is portion control. When losing weight, clearly your portions will need to be smaller than if you are maintaining. Depending on how much you currently consume, consider cutting your food intake in half and see how that works for you. You may have to go through trial and error to get it right, so if you reduced your portions by half and you are not losing weight, reduce them even further. If you're obese, you may have to reduce your intake quite considerably to shed the pounds. More on that below.
How Can That Skinny Person Eat So Much?
There are a variety of reasons that enable one person to eat more than another while managing weight. Here are two basic ones.
- Activity Level
While my own personal experience proves that one does not have to do a lick of exercise to lose weight, the amount of activity you engage in certainly dictates the amount of food you can consume. Food is fuel, so if you are an endurance runner, you will certainly be able to enjoy larger quantities of food than a person who sits most of the day. I'm a cyclist, so if I ride 100 miles I can and should eat plenty to fuel my body, but when I'm unable to ride for an extended period, I do find the pounds slowly coming on if I don't adjust my food intake accordingly.
Amount of Body Fat
The heavier you are, the more your body "wants" to rid itself of the weight. Therefore, an overweight person's appetite will often be much smaller than that of a thin person. It is not uncommon for someone embarking on this way of eating to go extended periods without feeling true hunger. If you are truly listening to your hunger and fullness signals you may find your body is trying to keep you from eating very much at all. You are actually satisfied with incredibly small portions. But once you shed the excess fat, your body may call for larger portions as the survival instinct kicks in.
Also, that thin person you see pounding down a large meal probably doesn't eat like that on a daily basis. It is natural to be quite hungry at times and less at others based on level of activity, amount of food consumed previous to that meal and more.
Pre-portioned Serving Sizes
One way to keep yourself from eating too much is to eat your food in pre-portioned servings. If you love ice cream but can't ever seem to scoop less than a huge bowlful, buy ice cream that is already portioned for you, such as small ice cream bars, or pre-filled ice cream cups. You can do this with cupcakes, pudding cups, individually wrapped candies, bags of potato chips, nuts, etc.
A great way to order small quantities of food at a restaurant is to buy a kid's meal. Most places will allow you to even if you're not "under 10". I particularly like to do this at fast food places. One of my favorite meals used to be Chicken McNuggets and fries. For lunch I would frequently order the four-piece Kid's meal, however McDonald's has since put "mini meals" on the menu, so I can get my four-piece meal without paying for the toy or the apples they now include in addition to the teeniest of french fry servings (I'll get my apples at home, not at McDonald's thank you!). I say this "used to" be one of my favorite meals because I have since become more picky about quality. Nowadays when I have a hankering for a chicken nugget or strip, I usually opt for Chic Fil A's chicken strips. Not only are they incredibly delicious, but they don't have any mystery ingredients! I don't like their waffle fries all that much, so I usually skip those and just enjoy three or four chicken strips with Chic Fil A sauce. I love McDonald's fries though, and on occasion I just gotta have me some with either Chicken McNuggets or a Big Mac. Sometimes I'll eat the whole Big Mac if it's dinner time and I haven't eaten that much during the day, or I've also been known to share a Big Mac with my teenage daughter.
Just a Taco, Thank You
Mexican grill eateries are pretty big where I live. A great way to get a small meal that is fast and tastes great is to simply order a taco. I did this yesterday at a Sharky's Mexican Grill. I ordered the Fajita Taco, which comes with a small serving of tortilla chips. I poured some fire roasted salsa on the taco and it was ridiculously tasty. My hunger was more than satisfied. We also have Rubios here along with a wide variety of other Mexican places to grab a tasty taco or other a la cart items. You can always order a full meal with sides, and if you're not truly hungry for it all, either share it or take some home, but sometimes its easier to just order a small portion to begin with.
Indulge in Your Guilty Pleasure
Do you have a sweet tooth? Or maybe you're more of a savory person who loves a bowl of buttery popcorn. Well, as someone with a massive sweet tooth, I'll share how I feed it on a daily basis. Chocolate is my most desired sweet treat, and since I want to eat it and still manage my weight, I make a point to buy chocolate treats that I truly love. Years ago it was Nabisco's Mystic Mint cookies. I'd enjoy just one after lunch and another after dinner. Nabisco no longer makes Mystic Mint cookies . . . grrrrr! . . . so another treat I've have kept on hand are Pinwheel cookies. A cookie bottom with marshmallow, covered in chocolatey goodness. Mmmm! Other faves are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, mini Kit Kat bars, and mint chocolate chip ice cream served in a teeny bowl. The point is, I don't bother with foods I "sort of like". If I'm going to indulge in a treat with only a small portion, it's going to be something I adore and I'm going to savor every little bite.
When you're planning to go out to dinner or perhaps a party and you'd like to enjoy a larger amount of food than you might otherwise eat, plan ahead. Eat less than usual throughout the day to accommodate. However, just because you are indulging, doesn't mean you should give yourself free reign. If you are at a party, take inventory of all of the food options and be sure to eat only the foods you really love. Don't grab a crab cake if you don't love crab cakes. No point wasting your taste buds and potentially your waistline on foods you only marginally enjoy.
Another method I employ off and on is intermittent fasting. While there are a variety of ways to implement fasting, for me it means skipping breakfast and making lunch the first meal of the day. I don't do this daily. That would be like a stupid diet rule and I don't do rules, remember? But when I'm serious about weight management I find it quite helpful. In my quest to eat less food, it certainly helps when I simply avoid an entire meal, but I've learned there's a science to how this actually boosts your metabolism. While I've been doing this on occasion for fifteen years, recent studies are proving it to be effective both for weight loss and better health. The article, Intermittent Fasting for Health and Weight Loss explains intermittent fasting in more detail, including Dr. Mercola's take on the subject. Or learn even more with the book, The 8-Hour Diet: Watch the Pounds Disappear Without Watching What You Eat!
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat is a great resource that goes along with my weight management philosophy. It rates highly with Amazon reviewers and is on the Best Books of 2014 list by Amazon editors.
Stop the "eat, repent and repeat" cycle by learning how to have a healthy relationship with food. Learn why you can dump those weight loss rules you can't stand and discover the freedom of eating foods you love while shedding pounds. It's so liberating! I lost 60 pounds eating foods eating this way and you can too.
Read the success stories from Amazon reviews and learn the to squash your fear of food and, instead, eat mindfully and joyfully.
Controlling your portions is a lifestyle. If you are not at all accustomed to limiting your portions, it is a habit you can to develop for better health and quality of life. Read Develop Good Habits for some helpful tips on how incorporate any good habit into your life. For even more practical information on eating foods you love in moderation, check out 10 Tips to Eat Less Food for Weight Loss.
More Blissful Miss Resources for Weight Management
- How to Lose Weight Eating What You Love: How I Lost 60 Pounds
- 10 Tips to Eat less Food for Weight Loss
- Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss and Health
Written by Jenna Dawn ©
Photos by freedigitalphotos.net