Facing a spread of delicious food can spell trouble for anyone trying to control calories. It’s sort of like coming to a fork on a hiking trail with three or four paths from which to choose. Unless you have a map, you won’t know which path is the right one.
Registered dietitian nutritionist Ilana Muhlstein, MS, RD, has concocted a brilliant weight-loss compass that’ll steer you in the right direction every time you’re faced with food choices. She calls it “The More? Sure!” Model.
“It’s the greatest tool—specifically for someone with a big appetite like me or for anyone who frequents social events, restaurants, and family-style meals,” says Muhlstein, the author of You Can Drop It: How I Dropped 100 Pounds Enjoying Carbs, Cocktails & Chocolate—And You Can, Too! Whenever you’re faced with lots of food options, you’ll simply follow the four steps in the circle to help you stay in control.
Read on, and for more on healthy eating, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
We’ll walk you through each step below, but the gist is that by keeping these four steps top of mind as you eat, you can eat more mindfully. Mindful eating makes it easier to keep your calorie intake in control and lose or maintain a healthy weight.
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“Always be sure to start at the top of the cycle with Water First, especially when you have a long eating window ahead and you really want to pace yourself with the food,” says Muhlstein. “It’s the igniter switch to your whole weight-loss approach.” Drinking a tall glass of water before eating fills your belly so you’re less likely to give in to cravings and allow temptation to override your mindset. “Put a 16-ounce water bottle in your palm-up hand; see how heavy it feels?” says Muhlstein. “That really demonstrates the point that water adds a nice heaviness to the stomach, which gives you a sense of calm and satisfaction before eating your food, which also helps create a healthier relationship with food.” For more, see how This Is How Much Water You Need to Drink for Weight Loss.
Follow water with veggies. “We always want veggies to be the first bites we take and fill up on, which is even more essential if you’re surrounded by more food and temptations than usual,” says Muhlstein. She cites a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that advising people to eat big volumes of low-calorie foods like veggies and soups was a more successful weight-loss strategy than advising people to restrict their portions and focus on eating less.
After filling up on vegetables, go for your protein. “That kicks in your sense of fullness to prevent unnecessary overeating and boost your overall sense of control,” says Muhlstein. Studies show that a higher protein intake increases thermogenesis, satiety, and fat loss. So too do these 40 Best-Ever Fat-Burning Foods.
Now if you want a Fiber-Filled-Carbohydrate (FFC) or some sort of treat, go ahead. (For more, see: 43 Best High-Fiber Foods For a Healthy Diet.) You’ll be much more selective and in control because your belly will already be feeling satisfied.
Now, if a spoonful of those crispy smashed potatoes turns out to be more delicious and tempting than you anticipated and you Want More? “Sure!,” says Muhlstein. But there’s a catch. You have to go back around the circle again before eating more of number 4 on the wheel, starting with a big glass of water, sparkling water, or unsweetened iced tea. “Chances are, once you go around again, you’ll be so fully satisfied that you won’t even need the extra silly treat—or if you to, it will be just one additional serving rather than multiple, like in the past.”
With time and practice the “More? Sure!” tool will build weight-loss habits that will become second nature, she says. It’s one of the tools Muhlstein used to drop 100 pounds and still enjoy her favorite foods. For more weight-loss advice, check out Great Weight Loss Habits That Work, According to Experts.