Don’t overeat as the cold sets in
Winter is almost upon us, and as the cold sets in, it’s normal to feel hungry more often, as our bodies adjust to the new season. The colder weather leads to a drop in our body temperature, and as a result, our appetites get stimulated. This is because eating helps to generate internal heat, subsequently leading to a rise in body temperature.
One way of managing your overall food intake is to reduce your portion size. This may help to create a little space for an extra portion of soup, or simply to ensure that you keep working towards your Summer body this Winter!
But how do you scale back your portions without going hungry? Thankfully, there are several strategies you can use to cut calories while keeping hunger at bay.
Here are 8 great tips to reduce your food portions without getting hungrier.
- Make at least half your plate veggies
Vegetables have lots of filling water and fibre, but not a lot of calories. By replacing half the starch or protein of your meal with non-starchy vegetables, you can eat the same volume of food and still slash overall calories. Research has shown that the amount of food you eat is a factor in feeling full.
Try scaling down the portions of other foods and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. You can apply this same concept when making mixed dishes. Just add more vegetables to your favourite recipes to make them lower in calories and more nutrient-dense. Veggies add volume to your meal, letting you eat fewer calories for the same amount of food.
- Eat protein with every meal or snack
Science has repeatedly shown that protein increases feelings of fullness more than carbs or fat. Take advantage of protein’s filling properties by including it in every meal and snack.
Focus on lean sources of protein, such as eggs, skinless poultry, dairy, seafood, and fish. Plant-based proteins are also good choices and may include beans, bean dips, tofu, and nut butters.
Here are some ideas for getting a protein boost in different meals and snacks:
- Add some plain Greek yogurt to your breakfast smoothie.
- Pair whole-grain crackers with string cheese or hummus.
- Poach an egg in vegetable soup.
- Add beans or a hard-boiled egg to salad.
- Drink water with your meal
Drinking calorie-rich beverages like juice or fizzy drinks doesn’t make you feel full but does leave you with extra calories you don’t need. For older adults, drinking water right before a meal could help fill you up and reduce the likelihood you’ll overeat.
In one study in older adults, people who drank about 2 cups (500 ml) of water before breakfast ate approximately 13% less than the participants who did not drink any water before eating.
Additionally, replacing high-calorie drinks with water can save you total calories at your meal. What’s more, drinking a glass of water before a meal helps some people eat less.
- Begin with a vegetable soup or salad
It might seem counter-intuitive to eat more courses in order to eat less food, but starting your meal with a soup or salad can help you do just that. Light vegetable soups and salads have something in common: they have a high water content, are full of fibre-rich veggies and are generally low in calories.
This high-fibre, high-water combo seems to be a great way to curb subsequent calorie intake. However, watch out for salad dressing, which can quickly rack up the calories. Did you know that Slender Wonder has a low calorie salad dressing? This solves this problem in an easy, tasty way!
Starting off with a low-calorie soup or salad takes the edge off your hunger, priming you to eat less of the main course.
- Use smaller plates and forks
It might sound strange, but the size of your plates and eating utensils affects how much you eat. In one study, researchers found that people tend to fill their plates about 70% full, regardless of plate size. That translates into a lot more food if you’re using a 25 cm plate compared to an 20 cm plate — 52% more food! Likewise, when you have more on your plate, you’re likely to eat more.
In other studies, people have served themselves more ice cream when using a bigger spoon and have eaten less food when using a small fork. So, harness the power of illusion and use a smaller plate and utensils. The same portion will look bigger and you’ll likely eat less.
Using smaller plates can help keep portion sizes in check while tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating more.
- Eat mindfully
Between your smartphone, the television, and a hectic lifestyle, it can be all too easy to eat while distracted. Distracted eating tends to lead you to eat more, not just at that meal, but for the rest of the day.
Mindful eating, the practice of paying full attention to what you eat without distractions, helps you notice your body’s hunger and fullness cues, so that you can actually know when you’ve had enough. Mindfulness can also help you distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger.
When you feel hungry, ask yourself if you’re actually hungry or if you’re just wanting to eat because you’re bored or experiencing another emotion. If you’re in the habit of eating emotionally, try some other strategies before eating, such as going for a walk, exercising, having a cup of tea or journaling.
Instead of multitasking at mealtime, try setting aside at least 20 minutes to tune into your food, taking time to smell it, taste it and feel its effect on your body.
- Spice up your meals
Adding hot peppers to your food may help you eat less. A compound in hot peppers called capsaicin can actually help reduce appetite and hunger. Spicy food also tends to make you feel warm and nourished inside, always a benefit in Winter.
If you can’t take the heat, ginger may have a similar effect. A study in 10 overweight men found that participants felt less hungry when they drank ginger tea during breakfast than when they skipped the ginger tea.
Adding hot pepper or ginger to your meal may help you feel more full and eat less.
- Eat more soluble fibre
In general, fibre-rich foods can help you feel full. Foods with soluble fibre, such as oatmeal, apples, pears and beans, are particularly filling. That’s because soluble fibre holds more water, giving it bulk.
In the digestive tract, soluble fibre produces a thick gel that helps slow digestion, keeping hunger at bay.
Here are a few easy ways to increase your soluble fibre intake:
- Add chia or ground flaxseeds to smoothies, yogurt and cereal.
- Top whole-grain oatmeal, buckwheat, or millet breakfast bowls with diced apple or pear.
- Add beans to soups, salads, and entrées.
- Eat more squash e.g. butternut, pumpkin or gem squash. Both winter and summer squashes are high in soluble fibre.
- Snack on fruit.