Doesn't it seem like cravings and emotionally driven eating are amped up when you're on a diet? The good news is that there are many tried-and-true methods to help keep you on track. I'm about to let you in on a few.
Do fill up on fiber
Protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrates and fat, so it takes fewer calories to fill you up. Fiber slows mealtime digestion and absorbs water, which expands your stomach and creates a feeling of fullness. Lentils and starchy beans (for example, navy, kidney, black, pinto, and garbanzo beans) naturally combine protein and fiber in very impressive amounts, so consider eating them in soups and salads or as a side dish instead of rice or pasta.
Don't miss out on sleep
Recent studies show that sleep deprivation can make it difficult to fit into your favorite jeans. When you don't get enough shut-eye, your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry, and less leptin, a hormone that increases satiety. Discipline might enable you to resist, but why not give your body a well-deserved rest?
Scientists at Cornell University and the University of Illinois researched the effect of serving-bowl size on eating behavior and then published their findings in no less an esteemed publication than the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that students serving themselves from a large bowl took 53 percent more and ate 56 percent more food (the equivalent of 142 calories) than those who served themselves from smaller serving bowls. If 142 calories doesn't seem like much, try multiplying it by three meals a day for 365 days. If the resulting yearly weight gain of 44 pounds doesn't inspire you to consider a new china pattern, I don't know what will!
Do veg out
Nonstarchy vegetables (anything but peas, corn, acorn/butternut squash, and potatoes) are "filler foods" in the best sense of the term. Low in calories and packed with water and fiber, vegetables fill you up without filling you out. Enjoy them in the form of stir-fries and soups, and munch on baby carrots, celery sticks, green beans, or cauliflower between meals.
Don't eat standing up
Back when people ate most of their meals while seated at their kitchen or dining-room tables, rates of obesity were far lower. Coincidence? I think not. When eating is limited to a particular place, your brain doesn't associate other places with food, and the cascade of bodily signals that stimulate appetite is activated less frequently. So, no more chowing down while leaning over your kitchen sink or strolling down the street, OK?
Do limit your choices
Contrary to popular belief, variety is not all that it's cracked up to be—at least when it comes to snacks. When you have more to choose from, you tend to sample a little of this and a little of that, which can lead to a lot of extra pounds. Besides, research shows that we are generally happier eating our favorite foods repeatedly than experimenting with a wide variety.
Don't eat in the dark
Dining by candlelight may be romantic, but the end result can be anything but. Eating in a dimly lit room tends to make people consume more calories. Simply put, in the light you're more self-conscious of others watching what you eat. Also, in low lighting, you can't see your food as well, which may cause you to lose track of how much you're eating. So, if possible, nix the dimmer.