Today I’m going to let you all in on a few little secrets. A question I get asked all the time is “How do you eat whatever you want and not gain weight?”. The truth is I have a few eating habits that have contributed to why I am able to eat everything I want and still remain a consistent weight. Some of these secrets are just pure luck. Kind of like how I dislike laying in the sun, which is likely why I haven’t aged much since my 20’s. All of my eating habits just also happen to be great tips if you want to be able to indulge in your favorite foods without your waistline suffering.
- Eat Slowly & Take Your Time
As a kid, my dad used to get so upset that I would take forever to finish my dinner. I would just be gabbing away and before I knew it, everyone was finished with their dinner and I was still eating. Luckily I never listened to my dad and I always took my sweet ass time at every meal. Even now I love having long dinners. I never order my entire meal together. Instead, I wait until I’ve finished my appetizer before ordering my entree and I never rush my meal. I enjoy great conversation, catching up with friends, and gazing at the beautiful scenery. When I’m dining out it typically takes me 3-4hrs to complete a full meal. Some people eat their meal and then go off to the next event and for me, food is the event.
So why is this important? First, it takes your brain at least 30 minutes to process whether or not you are full. Most people eat so fast that their brain does not have enough time to signal to their bodies that they are in fact satiated. Then you have to take into account that my body is actually burning calories as I’m eating. Within the time it takes me to actually finish a full meal, I’ve already started to burn off calories from that meal. In the time it takes me to finish one complete meal, many people have already consumed two!
2. Chew & Enjoy Your Food
Chewing your food thoroughly aids in digestion and the absorption of vitamins. One of the reasons I eat so slowly is because I enjoy every little bite I consume. I enjoy food so much that I am extremely particular of how I place each bite on my fork and then I enjoy all of the different flavors and textures. I like to say I’m making “the perfect bite” and I’m sure that the time it takes me to assemble and chew each bite also contributes to my slow eating habits.
3. Never Finish Everything on Your Plate
Everyone knows the phrase, “there are starving children so finish all of your food”. While this phrase has good intentions, I personally believe we all need to stop using this line as it subliminally teaches us that we need to finish all the food on our plates even when we’re full. The truth is American serving sizes are way too big. A typically American meal at a restaurant actually accounts for at least 2-3 meals so you should always be bringing home lots of leftovers!
As children grow older, I believe we need to instill the idea of no longer continuing to eat once we feel satisfied. Since I was young I would never finish all of my dinner. My mom would then just save the plate in the fridge and heat it up a few hours later when I got hungry again. To this day I still do the exact same thing. I eat a little of my meal and stop when I feel satisfied. An hour or two later when I get hungry again, I heat up the rest of my dinner.
On the same token, sharing is caring, especially when it involves food. I’m all about sharing my food. Sadly it’s not because I’m so kind that I want to offer my delicious food to my friends. It is actually because I want to eat everything on the menu and can’t decide on only one dish. I love tapas style restaurants that allow me to order several amazing dishes I can sample with friends. This way I get to try a little of everything. We all know variety is the spice of life. The more you share, the less you consume. It seems so obvious, but this habit has likely saved me thousands of calories and hundreds of pounds.
4. Eat Throughout The Day and Start with Dinner
I literally eat all day long. I’m basically a grazer who eats a little snack and an hour later is searching for my next snack. Since I never finish an entire meal, I always have leftovers in the fridge and that is usually what I eat for breakfast. I typically have dinner really early around 4-5pm. Now I eat early because I am always chasing natural lighting on my restaurant shoots. However, this is how my family has always eaten. In fact, my parents usually eat their largest meal around 2pm and in the evenings we just have a light snack.
This is actually a great eating habit because if you tend to eat your bigger meals earlier, you are more likely to burn those calories. Whereas if you eat your heaviest meal at the end of the day like most do, you will likely be either sleeping or sitting down watching television. This means those calories will likely get turned into fat.
5. Listen to your body
My final tip can take some practice of really listening to your body and it’s cravings. I’m not talking about when you walk past the Ghirardelli shop at Disneyland and start craving an ice cream Sunday. This is actually a sensory trigger which Disneyland capitalizes off of by pumping delicious smells in the air called “Smellitzers”. Yes, these are real things and I am photographing them around the park. Mind Blown right? More on these Disneyland Smellitzers later. The point is this is not listening to your body. This is your body being tricked into craving foods through your senses like sight and smell.
Instead, listening to your body is when my diet consists of wine and coffee for too long and I get a big slap in the face when my lips become dry like the Sahara Desert. I get these awful episodes of dry chapped lips that take a week of chugging down water to get rid of. Another example is when I decide I want some naughty fried food and 30 minutes after eating it I start feeling a little nauseous. This usually prevents me from wanting to indulge in yummy fried goodness for a few weeks.
Likewise, have you ever traveled down south where the only food options are Cracker Barrels? My parents live in Tennessee in the town of Lynchburg with only a few hundred people. Needless to say, restaurant options are extremely limited. When I finally get back to California all I want to do is eat a gigantic salad full of vegetables. If you listen, your body will tell you what it needs.
So there you have it. My top 5 secrets on how to eat whatever you want and not gain wait.
It’s important to remember that our stomachs expand like balloons. The more you eat, the larger your stomach will expand and you will continuously need to consume more food in order to feel satisfied. By just slightly reducing your portion sizes you can actually train your body to eat less to feel satisfied. Soon you won’t even think about it. Your body will start to recognize when you feel satisfied which will result in taking in fewer calories throughout the day and weight loss.
At the end of the day, the amount of weight you gain all comes down to a formula. Calories in versus calories out. Many of my eating habits result in eating fewer calories without feeling like I’m depriving myself. I don’t believe in dieting. I believe in creating realistic eating habits which enable you to still enjoy the foods you love. Hopefully, you’ve found these 5 tips helpful so you can finally enjoy being able to eat whatever you want and not gain weight. I think you will find that even without exercise, you can start implementing many of these changes which will make a big impact on the number of calories you are consuming on a daily basis.