Cutting Calories Made Easy

Written by
Published in September 2007

( You watch what you eat and exercise, so why is the scale still your worst enemy? You may be eating more calories than you think. Consuming just 100 extra calories a day for a year can add up to a 10 pound weight gain, so those little slips can be a big deal!

To avoid scale creep, try substituting healthier choices that have fewer calories, but maintain flavor. Cutting calories can be easy - it's a matter of making a few simple substitutions over the course of a day. Watch out for these worst calorie-packing offenders you may not even realize are sabotaging your weight management plan!

Cutting Calories in the Morning

Love your morning fog lifter? A grande size cafe mocha made with 2% milk contains about 260 calories. Slim down your drink by ordering the smaller tall size made with skim milk, and you can save around 100 calories. With the rich flavor from the chocolate syrup, you won't miss the 2% milk. Bonus: Always ask for your drinks without whipped cream - it saves you almost half a day's worth of saturated fat.

Bagels have gotten bigger! A specialty shop blueberry bagel with 2 oz of cream cheese adds up to about 530 calories. If you have only half the bagel, and fill out your breakfast with a side of fruit, you'll cut about 115 calories, plus get a healthy dose of vitamins from the fruit.

Cutting Calories in the Afternoon

What are you drinking with your lunch? If you're cracking open a canned soft drink, chances are you're gulping down around 140 calories before you even unwrap your sandwich. Simply eliminating a single daily soft drink, at 140 calories per can, will save you 51,100 calories a year! Need more convincing to give up your favorite soft drink? Those 51,100 calories from your daily soda translate into nearly 15 pounds over a year's time! Can the soda, and pair your lunch with zero calorie water instead. If it's the fizz you like, try calorie-free flavored seltzer water.

At snack time, it's easy to use up an entire day's worth of discretionary calories (100-300 calories) with one push of a vending machine's button. You can break the vending machine habit by bringing your own lower-calorie snack from home in anticipation of the afternoon snack attack. You'll be cutting calories but keeping your afternoon snack.

Cutting Calories in the Evening

At dinner, serve your plate at the kitchen counter with reasonable portions. Research suggests that if food is served on the table family style, people continue to eat even after they are full. Skipping seconds if you're not really hungry for them is a simple way to cut unnecessary calories.

If you enjoy an occasional nighttime snack, take the time to measure out a serving and put the container away. It's easy to eat more than a serving if you and the box are in front of the T.V. Four handfuls of snack crackers can quickly turn into a 500 calorie diet buster! Mindless noshing can add up to big calories before you can say "commercial break."

The Bottom Line

Cutting calories doesn't have to be an insurmountable task. If you make small changes to everyday habits, such as cutting calories from "extras" or second helpings, you may find that your scales quit creeping.

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