I’ll play it straight: I am a Paleo geek. (This, by the way, is the part where you act surprised).
I devour scientific blogs as a daily past time, digging deep into the nitty-gritty behind those few questions that the world over is trying to answer: why do we gain weight? How can we live happily and healthily? What can we do right now to ensure strong, vibrant health for every year we have on this planet?
If we’ve learned anything, though, it’s that the answer to every single one of those questions isn’t quite as clear-cut as we’d like to believe. If we’ve learned anything, it’s this: the body is an incredibly complex piece of work, meaning a one-size fits all approach is arguably the last thing we need.
So where does this leave us?
It brings us back to the basics.
It asks us to remember, now, that there’s value in simplicity — in eating less and moving more and reaping all the benefits when you do. Like everything else in life, the former isn’t nearly as simple as you might think, but there’s a silver lining worth keeping in mind: eating less is very doable, and it’s doable in a way that won’t make you feel deprived.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading!
1. Skip breakfast!
You don’t have to forgo your morning meal every day, as I do, but there’s no reason you can’t skip breakfast two or three times a week. If you’re at least a few months into a Paleo lifestyle, too, you’ll be well-equipped to handle a little hunger, as your body will have long since adapted to burning its go-to energy source whenever food isn’t available: fat.
That’s every bit as excellent as it sounds. If you want to experiment with daily intermittent fasting further, why not try and skip breakfast for an entire week? You’ll need an adaptation period (as discussed in my latest eBook, Roots), but once adjusted you’ll find that something as simple as skipping breakfast can help you eat less overall.
2. Drink your coffee black!
Sitting in Starbucks, I noticed something interesting: huge plastic cups of coffee clouded white with cream and every kind of foam and syrup imaginable. I noticed about a dozen of them, in fact, over the course of an hour, as a variety of people — all overweight — came in to grab one before heading back out.
Drink your coffee black. Even a sizable cup of black coffee has a negligible amount of calories, meaning you get all the perks of caffeine without the sinking realization that you just drank an entire meal’s worth of calories in a single cup.
Click that link above if you’d like to check the calorie count on your favorite beverage. The nutrition menu is pretty sparse, unsurprisingly, but you might benefit still by checking the whipped cream option and seeing how high those numbers can climb.
3. Don’t clean your plate.
This is rooted firmly in “well, duh” status, but I think it’s a point worth mentioning: you don’t have to eat everything on your plate.
If you were raised to clean your plate, as I was, then you can already see the challenge in this. It often feels wrong to leave food behind, even when the option to take home leftovers is available. There’s the simple pleasure of eating, too, and the problems it brings whenever you sit down at a restaurant and see gleaming (also massive) portions all around.
Pay attention to what happens the next time you take a seat at a Mexican restaurant. Despite the endless baskets of chips — and subsequent moaning of “Oh, I’m already so full” you’ll hear — it’s common to see people go on and demolish the huge plates of enchiladas, quesadillas, etc. that they order.
Here’s a different idea: take some food home. Or, if you’re feeling reckless, why not just stop eating when you’re full?
4. Brush your teeth!
There’s logic to this, I promise.
Call it an engrained habit, but a funny thing happens once I brush my teeth: I don’t want to eat. Any hunger I might have completely disappears, and I’m far more likely to pass on any food that comes my direction when I know that I’ll have to go brush one more time.
I suspect I’m not the only one. If the same thing happens to you, why not use this to your advantage? After your last meal for the day, immediately brush your teeth. This’ll mainly come in handy if you’re the type to enjoy a late-night snack, but the core idea is sound: if you can turn off the part of your brain that enjoys eating for the hell of it, you’ll be far better off overall.
5. Ease up on the nuts.
Nuts occupy a funny place on the health spectrum: the go-to snack for healthy eaters, and yet one of the first things you’re told to cut in the interest of leaning out. Why? They’re fairly high-calorie, for one, but there’s a bigger problem to keep an eye on: they’re pretty damn delicious.
They’re very easy to eat, in other words, and in quantities that don’t do you any favors. A simple suggestion, then, to help you eat less: go easy on the nuts. Enjoy them, if you like them, but be mindful that a large handful — and then two, and then maybe a few nuts more — can quickly elevate a small snack into big-league status.
6. Nix the soft drinks!
Diet or otherwise, they’re a destructive force to your health — something worth giving up completely as you move into a healthier, far less chemically-enhanced existence. As a former Dr. Pepper addict, I can vouch for how easy they are to drink, and likewise I can remember pretty well how effortless it is to down two or three huge cups whenever you sit down at a restaurant.
Cut the soda. This is easily done if you’ve embraced Paleo in full, but it’s advice worth heeding for anyone toeing the line, too, towards healthier eating.
You’ll notice a common trend here: mindfulness. Mindfulness of what you eat, for one, but also how much you eat of it, especially when eating less overall is one of the few proven ways to lose weight.
To be honest, I don’t like calories. I don’t think it’s necessary to count them, and nor do I usually advocate that anyone stress about how many they’re getting, but they serve one purpose: emphasizing how important it is to keep your brain turned on whenever you sit down to eat.
That might be the best trick of all, in fact. Start thinking about what you eat. Don’t completely stress over how many calories you’re ingesting, but do be mindful that the modern world has made it easier than ever to eat far more food than we actually need. Awareness of this fact can make all the difference in the world the next time you’re staring down at a big basket of chips, a gargantuan cup of coffee and cream, or any number of modern amenities better treated as an occasional indulgence.
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