The Power of One Dietary Change in Losing Weight

The same amount of cereal looks like more in a smaller bowl

5 Easy Ways to Eat 100 Less Calories Per Day

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Questions or Comments? Email author, Alice Henneman, MS, RDN at ahenneman1@unl.edu

What do 10 pounds of fat look like? For a rough estimate, imagine 40 sticks of butter or margarine or 10 1-pound cans of vegetable shortening.

Looks like a lot — yet how many of us add this much weight in a year without realizing it until our pants fit a little tighter or our belt runs out of notches?

Sometimes, we’re too hard on ourselves when we’re trying to lose weight. We eat some pretty awful-tasting foods, forgo getting together with friends if food is involved or take the joy out of eating through a monotonous and limited diet.

While people have lost hundreds of pounds through some of these methods, it’s often the same 10 pounds over and over again!

lady on scaleIt takes an excess of about 3,500 calories to gain a pound. Break that into smaller bites and 100 extra calories a day can put on about 10 pounds a year. The good news is LOSING 10 pounds can be as easy as eating 100 calories LESS each day for a year.

ONE dietary change may be all it takes. Here are some simple changes, involving just ONE food; each will decrease your daily intake by about 100 calories. The amounts of calories saved are approximate; check nutrition facts labels on specific foods for exact amounts.

As a general rule, experts recommend a slow and steady weight loss of 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. It’s difficult to obtain adequate nutrients if you consume less than 1,200 calories per day. It’s beneficial for most people to increase their activity level AND eat less.

1. Modify Your Milk. Instead of drinking two cups of whole milk, switch to two cups of 1% lowfat milk or skim milk. The nutrients are comparable.

2. Downsize Your Drink. If you’ve been drinking a 20-ounce container of a regular soft drink, switch to a 12-ounce container size. Or, better yet, drink a cold glass of water, perhaps with a slice of lemon!

2 cups of salad with 1 tablespoon of dressing3. “Dress, Don’t ‘Drown’ Your Salad.” Cook’s Illustrated magazine advises 1/4 cup of vinaigrette should be enough to dress 2 quarts (8 cups) of loosely packed salad, an amount they suggest for 4 servings. That means each 2-cup serving of salad greens should have about 1 tablespoon of dressing on it.

TIP: Dressing slides off damp salad greens and collects in the bottom of the salad bowl. You’ll get more flavor with less dressing if salad greens are washed and thoroughly dried. Bagged lettuce that is pre-washed and labeled “ready to eat” should be dry enough as is.

If you need to wash salad greens, the easiest way to dry them is in a salad spinner. Pack lightly to avoid overcrowding and bruising the greens. After spinning, pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels. If you don’t have a spinner, pat greens dry, thoroughly, with clean paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

4. Size up Your Cereal Bowl. Check the portion size you’re pouring in relation to the size cited on the box; decide if you’re pouring more calories than desired. Try eating from a smaller bowl to aid in portion control.

5. Count Your Cookies. A single medium-sized cookie easily can have about 100 calories. Often we pop two or more into our mouths before we realize it. If you feel you’re not getting enough “crunch” by limiting yourself to one cookie, try eating an apple instead — the calories are similar.

This is a peer reviewed publication.