Although weight loss is a struggle, it operates on a simple principle: You lose weight by burning more calories than you consume. A staggering 66 percent of American adults are overweight, reports the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, on its website MedlinePlus. If you are one of them, your goals should be to reduce caloric intake and increase physical activity. While these two goals promote weight loss most effectively when done together, you can lose weight by meeting only one. If you aim to lose weight simply by cutting calories, eating only when you're hungry is a good way to start.
Replace the foods you eat when you're hungry with healthier alternatives. See that your daily diet is made up primarily of whole grains, lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and unsaturated fats. Don't worry about which of these food groups you should limit; reducing your caloric intake leads to weight loss, regardless of what foods you eat or don't eat, as the Harvard School of Public Health explains.
Eat at a slower pace. Pause between bites, rather than continuously put food into your mouth uninterrupted. Chew your food thoroughly. Take more than 20 minutes to consume a meal, as this allows time for your brain to register that your stomach is full, as dietitian Joanne Larsen explains. Note when you no longer feel hungry, and stop eating before you feel full.
Eliminate distractions while eating so you pay attention to your food quantities and more readily recognize when you've had enough. Don't watch TV, surf the web, read or otherwise distract yourself from your food as you slowly consume it.
Make it a habit to only eat at the table. Forgo snacks on the go and eating on the couch or in bed. Don't make eating an accompaniment to other activities.
Find activities to occupy your mind when you're tempted to eat out of boredom. Go for a walk or a bike ride, read a book, look up something online you've been curious about or otherwise keep yourself distracted from the boredom hunger.
Have a nutritious, low-calorie snack during the day when you feel hungry. Keep excessive hunger at bay this way so you have more control at mealtime, advises the Nemours Foundation. Just as skipping food when you aren't hungry is important to weight loss efforts, so is eating when you are hungry.
Keep a weight loss journal. Record when you eat without being hungry. Identify the times of day, emotions, situations, people and other triggers that prompt unnecessary eating. Avoid these triggers whenever possible, and go into others prepared to cope in a different manner.
- MedlinePlus: Weight Control
- TeensHealth from Nemours: How Can I Lose Weight Safely?
- Ask the Dietitian: Ten Healthy Eating Habits to Prevent Weight Gain
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Loss
- Harvard School of Public Health: Diets That Reduce Calories Lead to Weight Loss, Regardless of Carbohydrate, Protein or Fat Content