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Eating upto 500 calories less than you currently do does NOT require a complete overhaul of your diet. Just a nip here and a tuck there may be all that you need!
Does the very mention of controlling calories make your heart sink? If so, you are not alone. Calorie control is a major challenge for most weight watchers.
However, you will be surprised to know that you can cut a substantial number of calories, just by making some smart changes in the way you cook and the food choices you make.
Practical these tips to eat well within your calorie budget!
1. Measure your cooking oil
A small spoonful (5ml) of most cooking oils contains more than 40 calories. And a spoonful looks like a few drops in a large pan!
If you usually do not measure your cooking oil, you may be using 20ml or more for a simple stir-fry. It makes the calorie count of your food shoot up unnecessarily. Measuring the amount that you use can help you save considerable calories.
An absolute essential for cooking with the least amount of oil required is nonstick cookware. And when we say nonstick, we mean a good one with coating intact, not that greasy, crusted pan which once was nonstick!
Change your nonstick pans once the coating wears off. The expense is worth the calories saved.
All the foods that you eat fried can probably be eaten grilled, roasted or steamed. This means nearly oil-free cooking and considerable calories saved.
Try these cooking methods. You may be surprised to see that some dishes turn out better grilled and with far less fat.
Instead of having fruit juice at breakfast, have fruits. While an average orange has about 60 calories, a glass (250ml) of orange juice has more than 100 calories.
Having fruit will also make you feel fuller and help you skip the next snack. And the fibre that you get is great for your health.
Soft drinks are an easy route through which calories sneak into your body. We tend to have them in rather large quantities at a time.
If you can do without soft drinks, you can smoothly cut a few hundred calories. If you can't avoid them altogether, go for the diet versions.
Similarly, if you can have your day's tea and coffee without sugar or with artificial sweeteners, you can save 20 to 100 calories depending on how much sugar you are currently taking.
Overcoming the desire to have dessert is no joke. Giving in could mean sending countless calories into your body with every mouthful.
The best way out is to stock up on some low-calorie sweet treats. Fruit smoothies, flavoured ice candies and flavoured yoghurt are all relatively low-calorie options. An appealing bowl of chilled mixed fruits can also help take your mind off the ice-cream.
Low-fat milk and yoghurt have about half the calories as their full fat versions. Instead of avoiding dairy altogether, switch to the low-fat variety. Doing this helps you keep up your calcium and protein intake while on a low-calorie diet.
It also makes your meals more satisfying, so that you don't feel the urge to snack during the day. Moreover, yoghurt can be used as a dressing in place of cream and cheese, without compromising too much on the taste.
Make it a habit to put your food on a plate or in a bowl before you eat it. This means not eating handfuls directly from the bag.
We underestimate portion sizes when we eat directly from a bag. It is also less satisfying. Eating at the table from a plate will make you feel more satisfied with a smaller portion.
If you patronise eateries in shopping malls, cinema halls and every other public place imaginable, you need to re-think the habit. Do your shopping and other outings have to be associated with food?
Eat at home before stepping out, or carry a homemade snack in your bag. Eat out only when you are eating out. Eating well is about enjoying every bite instead of eating on the go.
Calorie-cutting should be a slow and steady effort, rather than the launch of a sudden war against food. If your dinner is usually a hearty spread of delicacies, switching to a salad-only meal will be frustrating and make you want to give up.
Instead, try to reduce and change your meal over a couple of weeks. It gives your body and mind time to adjust, which is a must for sustained change.