Trying to drop some pounds before saying I do? Good news: Losing weight can be easier than you think. You can see great results without being hungry, neglecting your nutritional needs or fearing the kitchen. Make food your friend by following these six simple ways to cut out those unnecessary calories and get a great figure.
1. Eat Your Fruit
Sounds standard, right? Many people are mistaken in thinking that drinking a cup of orange juice is the equivalent of eating an orange. Even if you drink 100 percent pure orange juice, it still contains a lot of natural sugars that are high in calories. Eating an orange provides you with the vitamins you need as well as fiber, which is necessary for a healthy diet and aids in weight loss.
Fruit should be eaten as a part of your daily diet whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, simply for the health benefits. And a medium orange has around 60 calories, while a cup of orange juice can contain as much as 120 calories. Bear in mind that if the package does not say 100 percent fruit juice, it most likely contains added sugar.
Even if it does say 100 percent juice, that can be deceiving. Often, the main sweetening agent is apple juice, which is high in natural sugar — and even that sugar can really pack on the pounds. As a good rule of thumb for dropping a few pounds, when it comes to fruit, eat it, don’t drink it.
2. Keep It Simple
Natural food tastes good. We’re constantly surrounded by sweeteners, additives, syrups, flavors and more. Why not stick to the original? When you get your coffee every morning, consider drinking it black. When having your morning yogurt, stick to plain, and if you like, add fresh fruit like strawberries or blackberries. Flavored yogurts have many disguised calories.
At lunchtime, there’s no problem loading up your delicious salad with colorful fruits, vegetables and nuts. But when it comes to dressing, stick to the basics. Your ingredients already have plenty of yummy flavors to spice up that bed of lettuce, so try vinegar with a splash of oil if you need some dressing.
It’s nice to have a recipe to guide you through a home-cooked meal. However, you won’t go to recipe-jail if you veer off the guidelines a little bit. Instead of using margarine or butter to coat a skillet or pan, use Pam cooking spray, which has less than three calories in a one-second spray. Need to add some flavor to that chicken breast? Spices are virtually calorie-free and add a zest you just can’t get with a dressing or marinade.
If your sweet tooth is kicking in, you don’t have to deprive yourself. Have some raisins or any other dried fruit — they’re sweet with the added benefit of being high in fiber. And instead of using flour for that cookie recipe, use canned pumpkin (without additives) or replace the oil with applesauce.
4. Cut Out Soda
Again, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, soda is bad news. Because there is no nutritional value in soda, it should not be going into your body. The sugar is high (if you’re not drinking diet), the chemicals are strong (and can lead to tooth decay) and the caffeine causes you to slump later on. If you replace soda with water or tea, you’ll drop pounds almost immediately. Additionally, soda actually leaves you dehydrated, causing you to drink in even more calories.
5. Chocoholics Unite
You don’t have to cut out your favorite foods in order to lose weight. Many people love some chocolate after a meal. However, going as pure as possible is key. Chocolate is high in sugar and has many other ingredients in it besides the plant itself, which is called cacao. As a rule of thumb, going with dark chocolate with 60 percent cacao or more is a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth without raking in the calories. Dark chocolate also has other health benefits like anti-aging properties and antioxidants. Want to kill two birds with one stone?
If you’ve missed your daily serving of fruit for the day, melt some dark chocolate in the microwave and dip some berries or melon in it. A fat-free chocolate pudding has only 60 calories, so feel free to indulge in a cup of that deliciousness as well.
6. Stop When Finished
If your guilty conscience has always been telling you to finish your plate because of the starving children in the world, it’s time to squash that voice. Finishing your plate won’t solve global hunger, so if you’re full, here’s a tip: Stop eating. There’s no reason to eat after you feel satisfied; this can lead to bloating and nausea, not to mention, obviously, weight gain. Nobody likes to feel overstuffed, so turn that guilty-conscience voice into a healthy voice: Stop eating when you’re full.
If you were extremely hungry before a meal and find yourself devouring your plate, take a break when you’re halfway done with the meal. Taking deep breaths and a few minutes to catch your brain up with your stomach will help your body send the right signals regarding when to stop eating.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.