What diet "tricks" have you found to work well for you?

Let’s talk about weight loss positively instead. What rules/tips/tricks have you found that actually help(ed) you to lose or maintain your weight?
I’ll start off with the three that played a big role in my own losing weight and keeping it off:

  1. Do NOT drink calories.

You can down a zillion calories in some ritzy coffee drink or just regular soda without really noticing or having them make you less hungry at the next meal. I feel stupid admitting this, but until I was thirty I swore I couldn’t possibly drink diet soda – it all tasted nasty to me. Well, when I finally got serious about losing weight I cut out all soda, and stuck with water/tea/coffee and, most of all, Crystal Light Lemonade. Then, after three months of this, I really craved a coke, so I tried a Diet Coke, and my heavens! It tasted wonderful to me.

Clearly it was a matter of my taste buds being ‘retrained’ and not having recent memory of the sugar version to make the diet seem worse. (I bet just a couple of weeks would have been long enough to ‘fast’.)
2) The glass of water rule.

Whenever I want/plan to eat something, I drink a full glass of water and wait at least ten minutes. I’m sure it makes me eat less at meals, and for snacks…well, often I have forgotten about the urge to eat the snack before the ten minutes is up and it never gets eaten.

I found this a great help. I don’t have strong willpower, it’s hard for me to just flat-out tell myself “You can’t have that doughnut.” But wait just ten minutes? That I can do.

Um. If you try this, don’t sabotage yourself. As in, if what you’re craving is a candy bar from a vending machine, don’t buy it when the craving hits and then leave it on your desk in plain sight while waiting the ten minutes. That guarantees you will be reminded to eat it! And (maybe equally responsible for my being able to follow this rule) whenever I later realize that I successfully ‘forgot’ to eat the snack, I put what it would have cost (or a reasonable price if it was an office freebie) into my “I love me” fund. Which money I can spend freely on any (non-food) luxury without feeling guilty. New computer game? A pedicure? That new sweater I don’t really need?

  1. The No-Seconds for an hour rule.

Take a normal sized serving of whatever. If, after you’ve eaten it, it tastes so good (or you’re so hungry) you want more, you can have it…AFTER you wait one hour. Just like the glass of water, the key is that when it isn’t a real, physiological hunger making you want to eat something, the craving just sort of evaporates after a little while while you’re busy with anything else.

Take lunch today: we had some left over sausages so I grilled one up and ate it on a bun with sautéed onions and peppers. I inhaled it, it tasted so good. I looked at the rest of the sausages and wanted another. But instead of simply cooking it up and eating it (as I would have done back when) I went ahead and cleaned up the kitchen and left, content in the knowledge I could come back at 1:30 and eat another…and, as mostly happens, I didn’t give the sausage another thought until I got to typing this up.
BTW, if you try use either the Glass of Water or One Hour Wait rules, don’t cheat yourself: if after the ten minutes/hour wait you still want the whatever, absolutely you should go ahead and eat it! The ‘inner craving you’ has to learn that it can trust the ‘outer controlling you.’ Otherwise the inner you will ‘know’ that “wait ten minutes” = NO, and your willpower to wait at all will wane.

So, those are my best tips. What has worked for you?

I would just like to start with these links for lots of good advise:
2006 Weight Loss Club - August
2006 Weight Loss Club - July
2006 Weight Loss Club - June
2006 Weight Loss Club - May
2006 Weight Loss Club - April
2006 Weight Loss Club - March

I eat Oatmeal for breakfast every work day.
I snack on low fat/no fat foods like carrots, caramel rice cakes, Stick Pretzels with very low fat, Celery, Fruits and Air popped Popcorn without butter or salt but a few Pepperidge Farms Goldfish tossed in as a treat.
I keep a large supply of 15 calorie Ice pops and 60 calorie Fudgsicals in the house.
I buy lean steaks/ hamburgers and grill them to get more fat out.
I eat a lot of chicken.
I eat smaller portions and I have completely eliminated Fast food except for Wendy’s Mandarin Chicken Salas that I eat without the dressing.
I drink a lot of water, but also diet sodas I enjoy like Root beer, Cream & Ginger Ale. I drink a lot of unsweetened Ice Tea.
My recipe for an easy and very tasty Ice Tea.
I have a Gallon container I use and I need a Teapot and Pyrex Measuring Cup.
I boil the water in the Teapot.
I put 4 cheap Tea Bags in the measuring cup, (Lipton’s, Red Rose, Store Brand, it should not matter)
I add one Bigelow[sup]TM[/sup] Mint Medley Tea Bag and then pour the boiling water into the measuring cup.
I let it seep for anywhere from 5-15 minutes and add it to the water in the Gallon Container and I have an excellent Ice Tea that almost everyone praises. Almost no work involved on my part.


When you eat a salad, get the dressing in a little bowl on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing before spearing each bite, and never use more than will stick to your fork.

A little steak tastes just as good as a big one.

Don’t break your good intentions for a fair-to-middlin’ snack or dessert. Hold on for something really yummy.

Never eat snails.

He also is a Yankees fan, which is like a tapeworm for the soul. Hey, every little ounce shredded off your frame counts, right?

Um. No snails? They really bad?

I’m just starting to get serious about my diet, and this is one of the first things I’ve cut out. I was a hardcore soda drinker – no diet stuff 'cos I hate the taste of aspartame. It has this nasty metallic taste that, while sweet, is a kind of sweet I don’t wish to revisit. I was also a coffee drinker – three cream, three sugar. After quitting the sugary drinks and realizing how much fat and calories is in the cream and sugar, I decided to give it up almost completely and switch to tea with skim milk, which is a perfectly acceptable alternative to me. Skim milk is low in calories, and while I do still have sugar, I will often cut sugar with splenda to reduce the calories even further.

For those times when I’m not drinking tea, I drink water. I’ve found it does help considerably cut down on the time I’d otherwise use munching on something. (I’ve discovered that I’m a munch-a-holic, and a pretty addicted one at that, so I’m finding it absolutely necessary to cut out the snacking, and water helps there, though it is not a direct substitute since drinking is often simultaneously associated with eating)

One “trick” I’ve found is to never say you can’t. It creates a “don’t think of a pink elephant” mentality; flat-out denying yourself ends up just making you crave more in part because you have told yourself you can’t, and human nature being what it is, we tend to want to go where we’re explicitly denied access. Instead, appeal to your better sense (i.e. guilt yourself) by telling yourself that you can if you really, really think you need to, but you sould honestly try not to. Go so far as to give in if you find it unbearable, just to “get it out of your system,” but afterwards use that as positive reenforcement to try harder to stick to your diet. It’s a total self-induced mind game, but when it comes to altering your eating habits – and doing it in such a way that it can be maintained even after you’ve reached your target weight – you have to change your way of thinking, and sometimes this requires a bit of mental tom foolery.

Another way you might think about it is to give yourself less than a full portion and wait 10 or 20 minutes. That way if you still want seconds you can give yourself another less than full portion (or less still if you find you’re not as hungry as you thought you still were). Chances are it’ll satisfy you perfectly well and you’ve actually ended up eating less in the process.

Here’s something else I’ve learned. I never paid attention to the nutritional information labels on various foods, so when I did I found out how shocking some of them were. It’s incredible how many calories are in foods you might have otherwise thought weren’t that bad. Seeing this, in plain print right on the packaging has been a great motivator to really start looking for lower calorie alternatives. Conversely, I’ve discovered foods I hadn’t really thought about before that are in fact pretty low in carlories and were still good eats.

I’ve adopted a sort of rule of thumb on this front – an easy one that doesn’t require calorie chart lookups or remembering diet rules. I simply tasked myself with picking foods that stuck as close to the “1:1” rule as possible – that is, foods whose calorie counts were as close to their net weight as possible. A 255 gram frozen dinner, for example, should stick as close to being 255 calories as possible – the fewer carlories, the better. (Low fat or fat-free products are bonus points) Often I’ll find foods that come in under the 1:1 rule, having fewer calories than their net weight in grams. I try and seek these out whenever humanly possible. At the same time I try and avoid as much as possible those foods that exceed, especially by a wide margin, the calorie:weight ratio. Some of the foods I’d eat without thinking I discovered were horribly disproportionate in this area, some often as much as 2:1 or more. Even small things, like nuts, crackers or olive oil, were shockingly high calorie. (Nuts: Typically 5:1; crackers, along with cereals and related foods, usually at 4:1; olive oil a horrendous 7:1!)

It’s really helped me eat smarter in the long run.

I just wanetd to point out, Chelten House make a marvelous fat-free, low-calorie dressing line. Their fat-free dressings are typically 4-6 calories per 15ml, which is incredible. (They’re water-based instead of oil-based, and while this makes them a little thinner, they’re wonderfully tasty)

Low to zero calorie drinks, definitely.

I weighed ~360 lbs in January 2005 and am currently at ~180 twenty months later and a huge portion of that weight can probably be directly attributed to my avoidance of all drinks that have ten or more calories per serving (except booze when I’m feeling the need to get drunk) as I easily drink two to four liters of liquids in a typical day. That’s almost 2000 calories right there and while drinking a large amount of liquid will temporarily make you less hungry, it’s fleeting and not at all filling.

My husband is starting to watch what he eats. We can’t call it a “diet” – he’s trying to keep it casual, and the word “diet” makes him clench up.

He’s given up bread, which also means he’s given up lunch meat – bologna, hot dogs, etc. This was a big deal for him.

He eats an apple every day.

These are small things, but he’s lost five pounds in the last couple of weeks, without feeling deprived. This is encouraging for him.

Another things that helped is that I stopped buying “treats” at the grocery store. No more Dove bars, Snack Pack puddings, chips and dip. I don’t have any weight issues and I love that stuff, but it was stupid to have it in the house.

I agree with no having the sweet stuff in the house. One of the first things AA teaches is don’t have alcohol at home. If you want it, make yourself go out and get it.

Speaking of alcohol, never drink it alone. Have a glass of water, a glass of a low calorie beverage, and alternate sips (this trip came from Fran Drescher).

I use the “a normal plateful of food and seconds on one item” If I have seconds, I don’t eat dessert.

If I really really want something non-healthy, I substitute it for a meal. This happens about twice a week. I try to eat it for breakfast or lunch at the latest, to burn the calories before sleep.

And WALK. WALK outside for at least an hour every day.

A lot of diet success (for me) is filling yourself up.

Huge salads made with the supermarket salad bags & lots of veggies with a packet of water packed tuna fish. Yummy and filling. Use Newman’s lite balsamic vinaigrette as a base + some inexpensive balsamic to stretch it. Yummy. Eat it in a huge Jethro Bodine sized bowl with no one else around.

Diet Jello! Yummy with a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt.

I count calories. No other method works for me.

Instead of Splenda in coffee & tea use "Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking " . It’s 1/2 sugar + 1/2 Splenda and tastes just like real sugar with a fraction of the calories. It’s the bomb! A bit tough to find as not every supermarket carries it.

The funniest thing about this is that the whole New Coke debacle came about from Coca Cola trying to make Coke taste more like Diet Coke because in blind tests regular Coke drinkers actually preferred Diet Coke.

A lot of excellent tips have already been made, I’d just like to chime in with my personal favorite: eat smaller meals more frequently. This keeps your body’s metabolism high throughout the day, so you don’t experience the starve-and-gorge, get-sleepy-after-meals peaks and valleys phenomenon. Your body can only use so much energy at one time. While total calories for the day is what most people keep track of, it makes a difference as to whether you eat it in two huge meals or 3-5 smaller meals – you’ll put less into the “fat storage” by spacing it out, and will generally feel a lot better too.

I personally eat 5 times a day, unless I’m sleeping in on a weekend or on vacation, in which case my “breakfasts” (normally 7:30am and 10:30am) get combined into a single larger breakfast at around 9:30am. Then I’ll try to eat something at 1pm, 4pm, and dinner around 7-7:30pm.

As much as possible, stay away from processed foods and focus on things that digest slowly (protein, fat, fiber and complex carbohydrates). Keeping your blood sugar stable will not only keep your appetite in check, but it’ll make you feel better in general.

I brush my teeth when a craving hits. That way if I try to eat something, the flavor is hindered by the mint after-taste.
I also go to bed on an empty stomach. It’s as simple as not eating after a certain time.
I drink lots and lots of tea to keep my mouth occupied with something other than chewing, as I tend to snack when I’m bored or doing something slow. Gum helps in this manner as well.

Remind myself not to give up on what I want most for what I want this minute.

Keep a little book where you have to write down what you’re about to eat! Also the only drink water thing is great

I do Weight Watchers Online, so I measure out every bite I eat. No food goes in my mouth (except gum) that I have not accounted for. I don’t go over my points either.

But for the less rigid dieters:

Never eat straight from the container. Always put the amount you want to eat in a bowl or plate and sit down to eat.

What’s worked well for me and what’s worked well for my sister after told her:

First make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs. A couple of servings of fruits and about four to six servings of veggies along with a multivitamin.

After that what ever cravings I get I’ll go ahead and indulge myself. The thing is tho’; after all that good stuff floating around in my system, I really don’t have any cravings that are bad for me.

Sure, I get a few but not near as many as if I were on an all crap food diet.

Budget for yourself $30 a week for food and $30/month for gas. Buy a bike.

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

Make it your mantra. It’s worked for me for years.