Previously, I shared with you some weight loss tips that take 60 seconds or less to apply to your life.
The theory is that rather than overwhelming yourself by overhauling your entire life to accommodate a new diet, you take small steps that you can apply in the shortest amount of time.
So, here’s another five “60-seconds-or-less” tips for you to try out.
What is the best way to enjoy a variety of different foods, but not have so many calories?
The answer is sharing.
Your mother was right when she insisted that you share your food. But it’s not just to be nice to others. It’s a way of being nice to yourself. It’s the way that you can cut back your calories significantly.
Sharing takes advantage of two different phenomena.
One is the concept of unit bias. This means that we are highly influenced by the size of the serving.
For instance, if someone gives you a particular sized slice of chocolate cake, you’re likely to eat the whole thing. But if the serving size was 20% less, you’d still eat the same amount and not really think anything of it. If the serving size was 20% more, you’d also eat the entire portion without thinking about it.
The serving size seems to be a stronger predictor of how much we’ll eat than other things.
So when you’re sharing, you’re using unit bias to your advantage, instead of being its ready victim.
Secondly, sharing allows you to enjoy things that might have been hugely calorific if you’d eaten it by yourself. When you share it, you’re only having a proportion of the calories. It also means you don’t feel like you’re missing out or deprived, which is very important.
What are the best ways to apply sharing to your life? Anywhere and everywhere.
Sharing is especially useful for dessert. It’s a way to get a sweet “hit” after dinner without all the calories.
You can also share starters. You can share a snack at a café. In each of these situations, you get to sample something without having to have all of the calories.
One of my clients has elevated sharing food with her husband to an art form. When it comes to ordering dessert, her husband will say: “I’ll be ordering what my wife is having”.
Try it Now #1: Today or at least in the next few days, at some point there will probably be a chance to share something with someone else. Grab that opportunity.
2. Proximity and Food at a Meeting
Imagine this scenario. You’re at a meeting at work.
Someone has (un-thinkingly!) brought a plate of cookies.
You’re sitting there in front of them. Although you’re meant to be focused on the meeting, you can’t help but notice that the cookies are also talking to you. They’re saying “eat me”.
You manage to resist, but as the meeting drags on and on, you can feel your resolve flagging. After all, the plate is just there, in front of you. In between focusing on the meeting, you’re having a battle with yourself. Until you finally can’t stop yourself and you lean forward and take a cookie.
Now imagine a different scenario, where you’ve passed the plate of cookies to the person next to you, and asked them to offer them to others at the table.
The plate of cookies ends up on the other side of the table. Now, for you to have some of the cookies, you would have to either ask someone to pass them back to you. Or you’d have to get up walk over to the other side of the table and take one.
Of course, when a plate of cookies is right in front of you, it’s easy to take one. But when it’s on the other side of the table, it requires more effort and telegraphs to others what you’re doing in a more obvious manner. This means you’re much less likely to do it.
Use this proximity rule to minimize your eating.
It seems trivial, but simply keeping food a little bit further away from you, makes you much less likely to eat the food.
(Another scenario where this is likely to happen is a sit-down dinner at a function where there is food put on the table to be served.)
Try it Now #2: At the next meeting you attend, if there is any food there, keep it as far away as possible.
3. Sit next to the slimmest person
There is good research evidence to show that people are influenced by eating with others.
If the other person eats a lot, you’re likely to eat more too.
So for instance, if you go for a coffee with a friend, and you usually just have a coffee, but she has a pastry and a hot chocolate, you’re more likely to succumb to having something more too.
If you are at a meal, and the people with you order starters, main course and dessert, you’re much more likely to eat more than if they just ordered a main course and skipped dessert.
Of course, you can’t control how much other people eat, but there are other things you can do.
For instance, if you have some friends who are big eaters, try to avoid socializing with them at places where you are most vulnerable to their bad influences.
So if there’s a choice between going to the “all-you-can-eat” restaurant with them, and another place where you order from the menu, then avoid the all-you-can-eat place. Seems obvious, but so many people make elementary mistakes with situations like this.
If you’re at a dinner with a group of people, try to sit next to the slimmest person in the group or the person you know doesn’t eat much in those situations. This will definitely have a strong influence on how much you eat, in a good way.
Try it now #3: Be aware of interactions with people who eat a lot. Don’t fall unthinkingly into their influence.
4. Think of value in a different way
Most of us naturally look for value in everything we buy. If someone offers two for the price of one, we think that’s a great deal. If it’s happy hour at the bar, we’re happy.
But this sort of “value” is the wrong way to think about food or drink when you want to manage your weight better.
Rather than thinking of getting your money’s worth as being about having more for less. Think of the pay-off being in terms of satisfaction.
What does satisfaction involve?
It means enjoying the meal. It means feel satisfied. It means not feeling unpleasant or uncomfortable after the meal.
It means not feeling regret or remorse over your eating decisions (“Why did I eat that? It wasn’t worth it”).
You can see that this concept of value makes a big difference to how you evaluate a meal.
So many people think that the way to enjoy a meal is to eat as much as possible. They think that the more you get the better. When someone offers you a double helping, it’s supposedly good.
The concept of an all-you-can-eat restaurant is based on the idea that eating more = more value. This also comes up with the ubiquitous breakfast buffets you see in hotels. With all of the different foods on offer, many people feel they have to eat as much as they can to get their money’s worth.
But usually at the end of a buffet type meal, it’s easier to feel stuffed and sick than pleasantly satisfied.
Value isn’t in over-eating. It’s in feeling satisfied after a meal.
You need to think about satisfaction as a concept related to how you feel, not how much you have.
This changes everything. It’s a perception that takes no time at all to think about, but it will change your idea of how you approach food and drink.
Try it now #4: Next time you are faced with a food decision, think about value as being about feeling satisfied, not eating as much as you can.
#5: Cut out one calorific drink
In keeping with this entire philosophy of “small changes”, here’s one most people could probably try in the next few days.
Most of us underestimate the calories in liquids.
I have clients who see me in my clinic, show me their food diaries each week. And sometimes they will feel bad about the bread they had with their meal, cursing themselves for the extra calories they had. How many calories in the bread roll? 80? 100? How many calories in the extra glass of wine? 200?
Similarly, soda drinks can be very high in calories and go under the radar.
I’m not saying give up alcohol or soda drinks, but just be more aware of their calorie impact. And try and make one change in the next few days.
Try it now #5: Even if it’s cutting it back by one, reducing the number of high calorie drinks you have will make a difference.
None of these tips takes more than 60 seconds to try. And remember, it’s not that one tip practiced once will make a big difference. But one tip practiced over and over again will.
And lots of different tips applied over and over again, will make a life-changing difference.
If you’re a woman over 40 and want to know exactly how you can lose weight and keep it off using a behavioral approach,…
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Five More “60-Seconds-or-Less” Weight Loss Tips for Women over 40
by Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan