There’s no doubt: Counting calories is a tried-and-trusted strategy that can help you lose weight. And with a few tips and tricks, food logging can be surprisingly easy. But life in the real world can be hectic, sometimes you miss a meal, and all that tracking can start to feel tedious after a while. So once you’ve tried the Fitbit food logging feature and have a sense of your stats, it’s okay to turn to other methods to manage your healthy eating. Here are four smart ways to cut back on calories, beyond noting every nibble.
Strategy #1: Count Food Groups, Not Calories
The USDA has created checklists of how many servings you need from each food group. Start by working out how many calories you really need, and then use the table to determine how many servings. This kind of counting can be done quickly in your head … 2 servings of fruit, 3 servings veggies, 6 servings grains, check, check, check! And once you get a handle on what a serving size is, you’ll never have to count above 10 again. Plus, it’s a great way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Strategy #2: Eat Real Food
A diet overflowing with convenience foods—bars, nuggets, frozen entrees—can rack up calories quickly. Switching to foods that haven’t been processed with unhealthy extras (like sugar, salt, and fat!) can significantly reduce your intake. Start your meal with a glass of water. Then fill half your plate with plenty of fresh veggies and fruit. Make a quarter of your plate healthy carbs, like brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potato. Make the last quarter lean protein, like beans, fish, or poultry. Finally, add healthy fats with a few slices of avocados, a couple of teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil, or a small handful of nuts. Voilà! A healthy plate, with no counting required.
Strategy #3: Simply Eat Less
If your diet is already pretty healthy, but the needle isn’t moving, take a hard look at how much you eat. Understanding portion sizes might be your issue. You can try dishing up 20 percent less food, and simply say no to second helpings. Or you could move your meals to a smaller plate, and eat with a smaller spoon. These small changes may be enough to tip the scales.
Strategy #4: Listen to Your Body
Do you find yourself eating out of habit, boredom, or just because something tasty is put in front of you? Take a moment before you take a mouthful, and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Sometimes a glass of water is all you need to help you feel satisfied. Eating slowly at mealtimes can also help you focus on your level of fullness. If you stop eating when you’re 80 percent full, you’ll prevent overeating. You know what that means—turn off the TV, put down your phone, take a deep breath, and really taste your food.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated or involve hours of hard work. By keeping things simple and taking your time to enjoy real food more slowly, weight loss may come easier than you think. If you notice your eating has gotten a little out of control, you start gaining a few pounds again, and you want to refocus, it’s okay to come back to food logging and calorie counting. Once you’ve reset, you can take the insights you’ve gained and put them toward your long-term health and happiness.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.