Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.
Less sugar can mean a slimmer waistline
Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, and candy) are more likely to add to fat around your belly. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.
Fill up with fruit, veggies, and fiber
Even if you’re cutting calories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat less food. High-fiber foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are higher in volume and take longer to digest, making them filling—and great for weight-loss.
It’s generally okay to eat as much fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables as you want—you’ll feel full before you’ve overdone it on the calories.
Eat vegetables raw or steamed, not fried or breaded, and dress them with herbs and spices or a little olive oil for flavor.
Add fruit to low sugar cereal—blueberries, strawberries, sliced bananas. You’ll still enjoy lots of sweetness, but with fewer calories, less sugar, and more fiber.
Bulk out sandwiches by adding healthy veggie choices like lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, and avocado.
Snack on carrots or celery with hummus instead of a high-calorie chips and dip.
Add more veggies to your favorite main courses to make your dish more substantial. Even pasta and stir-fries can be diet-friendly if you use less noodles and more vegetables.
Start your meal with salad or vegetable soup to help fill you up so you eat less of your entrée.
Take charge of your food environment
Set yourself up for weight-loss success by taking charge of your food environment: when you eat, how much you eat, and what foods you make easily available.
Cook your own meals at home. This allows you to control both portion size and what goes in to the food. Restaurant and packaged foods generally contain a lot more sugar, unhealthy fat, and calories than food cooked at home—plus the portion sizes tend to be larger.
Serve yourself smaller portions. Use small plates, bowls, and cups to make your portions appear larger. Don’t eat out of large bowls or directly from food containers, which makes it difficult to assess how much you’ve eaten.
Eat early. Studies suggest that consuming more of your daily calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner can help you drop more pounds. Eating a larger, healthy breakfast can jump start your metabolism, stop you feeling hungry during the day, and give you more time to burn off the calories.
Fast for 14 hours a day. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast until breakfast the next morning. Eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestion a long break may aid weight loss.
Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. You can create your own small portion snacks in plastic bags or containers. Eating on a schedule will help you avoid eating when you aren’t truly hungry.
Drink more water. Thirst can often be confused with hunger, so by drinking water you can avoid extra calories.
Limit the amount of tempting foods you have at home. If you share a kitchen with non-dieters, store indulgent foods out of sight.