Top Tips on Filling up Without Pigging Out
It takes an estimated 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full, and in those 20 minutes you can eat a lot more than you need, leaving you feeling stuffed when you finally clear the plate.
So take your time over meals: sit at the table, chew slowly, put your cutlery down in between mouthfuls, and have a conversation with whoever you are eating with. Take a tip from the French - if having a piece of fruit, chop it up - it takes longer to eat. This will also help you to savour your food and be able to judge exactly when you've had enough. The good news is that by listening to our bodies, it is possible to re-train ourselves from hoovering up every last morsel and regretting it later.
Eat a starter
Sounds odd but adding an extra course may actually help you to eat less. Begin every meal with a high fibre starter, for example a green salad a serving of melon, or carrot and celery sticks with hummus. Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that is very good for you as it aids the digestive process and passage of food through the gut - and it also makes you feel full, so you'll find you won't need such a large main meal to feel satisfied.
Alternatively soup is an excellent starter choice. Go for the non-creamy option and skip the bread roll. This is a great tip for eating out.
Plan your buffet
The buffet is the worst temptation for unlimited 'food on tap'. When faced with a table of your favourite treats it's hard to show restraint - especially when everything looks so small that it can't possibly count. But it does! A mini sausage roll, just one small mouthful contains 60 cals and 4g fat. The secret is to start off by scanning the table and planning what you're going to have before starting to pile it on your plate. Best options; open rolls with ham or turkey, veg crudites, salads, small handful of unsalted mixed fruit and nuts. Treat with caution: sandwiches oozing with mayo-mixed fillings, puff pastry products and deep fried goujons. For desserts, pick one - preferably fresh fruit or meringue based. Go easy on creamy gateaux or pastry options. And limit yourself to only one trip to the table. After all, you wouldn't order seconds in a restaurant would you?
This approach has 'Diet Disaster' written all over it. It is sensible to save up calories when you know you'll be having a meal later, but don't starve throughout the day. By not eating anything, the first drink is likely to go straight to your head, stimulate those taste buds and before you know it, all your will-power has gone out of the window! Instead, have a sensible breakfast as normal, a light lunch and a snack before you go out - for example, a bowl or soup or high fibre cereal. By not being ravenous, you will be much less likely to pig out.
Quality not quantity
Be choosy with your chocolate and don't settle for any less than the very best dark chocolate to satisfy your cravings. Good quality dark chocolate (Green and Black's is a fine example) contains 70% cocoa solids and so will give you a much more intense taste than higher fat and higher calorie milk chocolate. Savour the taste of a couple of small squares of dark chocolate. It is a real change from the 'easy to eat' milky variety - but that's the plan - you don't eat as much! Dark chocolate may not be cheap, but hey - we all need a bit of luxury from time to time.
Become a grazer
There is a difference between uncontrolled snacking and planned grazing. Rather than waiting for three big meals a day, eat little and often. The key is to not allow yourself to become really hungry by eating low cal healthy snacks at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels constant. It's when we are ravenous and our energy levels dip that our resolve and good intentions suddenly crack and we wolf down whatever comes to hand - generally not good foods. You can avoid falling off the weight loss wagon by munching on a piece of fruit or some 'planned in' food whenever the hunger pangs attack.