These are a few of the rules of moderation I used to lose weight. There are a lot more, but these had the biggest impact.
1) No Soda at home.
This was my first rule, and I dropped about 15 pounds just from this rule.
I would still drink soda at work (sometimes), when I’m out eating, running errands, etc. but no soda at home. I would drink water instead.
When I first started this rule, got a bunch of water bottles and reused them. Yes, “everyone knows” water bottles are not safe to re-use. Thankfully, that is not true. It was started by an email hoax years ago and on what was apparently a slow news day.
Water is flavorless, and boring, and when I first started this rule, I really hated drinking water. To help with that, I used the Crystal Light (or store brand) powder mixes. I’m partial to their lemonade.
The bottles are not necessary, but they make it a lot easier to keep track of how much water you’re drinking. Also, I have a strong aversion to drinking plain water from any lidless container. It’s probably one of those things a psych major somewhere would like to have a conversation about.
2) The second big one is a 2-part rule regarding snacks:
A) Do not keep ready-to-eat sweets, candy or other snacks in rooms that I spend a lot of time.
B) When I get such snacks, only one / one small handful at a time.
I can keep snacks in the house, I keep them in somewhere I don’t spend time idle. For example, I keep my favorite oatmeal raisin cookies in the kitchen, and I can eat as much of them as I want, but to do so, I have to get up from the desk or bed or sofa and go into the kitchen and get ONE cookie. If I want a second cookie, I make myself go back to wherever I was, sit down, stand back up and go to get the second one. I’m sure you can understand how that drastically reduced the amount of cookies I eat.
Stress-eating and boredom-eating are a thing of the past.
3) The third rule is that the meal is done when I’m not hungry anymore.
At face value, this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s more complicated than it sounds, and this had the biggest impact on my weight. I lost 25 pounds from this one rule.
First, there is a difference between “Not hungry” and “full.” The body instinctively knows the difference and sends signals to the brain telling us as much, but our body telling us and us listening to it are not the same thing.
Most of us were taught growing up always to clean your plate, and portion sizes in the US are ridiculous. Because of that, we got into the habit from a very young age of ignoring our body when it says “hey, we’re good” and continuing to eat until it is yelling at us “PLEASE GOD, STOP!” or all of our food is gone.
To make matters worse, nearly all ready-to-drink beverages, sauces, sweets and candies uses High Fructose Corn Syrup as a sweetener, which has been proven to block the signals your body sends to your brain saying you are no longer hungry and that you are full, so even if you are listening for the signals they won’t come through.
Because of this second part, it’s best not to start this rule until you have done rules 1 and 2, because they will make this rule much easier to follow.
Now, when I first started this rule, it did mean I basically went 2 months without having desert unless I started with desert and worked my way backwards. Over time, though, I learned to gauge how much I needed to eat before I started, and end up both with “room for desert” and with less wasted food while still not eating until I’m full.
In addition to being the most effective rule for weight loss, this also has saved me a lot of money.
At fast food places, I no longer spend the extra on getting the combo since I won’t eat the fries and I don’t buy the bigger, more expensive burgers/sandwiches that will be more than I am going to eat.
At sandwich shops I save the second half of the sandwich for a second meal instead of eating the whole thing at once and getting full.
At casual dining restaurants, if there isn’t an item I like that has a portion size matching my current appetite, I get one that will reheat well and is large enough portion size to justify taking the left-overs home