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How to lose 10 pounds: Change your eating environment

TODAY diet and nutrition editor Madelyn Ferstrom offers her tips for how to drop weight.

We all know that to lose weight, we have to eat less food. It’s time to address the 3 major habits to we all need to break to trim calories and boost weight loss: (1) too large portions (2) eating too fast and (3) mindless eating. This comes down to some easy and practical changes to your eating environment.


Step one is to downsize your plates and glasses. Our mind plays tricks on us when it comes to portions. We all struggle when it comes to "what's enough food to fill us up." Here are some of my favorite tips to do this:

  • Swap out your dinner plate, and use a salad plate as a main dish. Use a small bowl for soup, and not a huge one.
  • If you’re drinking wine, choose a small wine glass so a 5-ounce serving looks like a lot, instead of looking like just a couple of sips from a typical giant wine glass. We tend to pour about a half a glass, not matter what size wine glass we have!
  • When serving yourself at a buffet or “family style” serving use a tablespoon, not the giant serving spoon to serve yourself. You’ll cut the portion at least in half.


  • It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send your brain the message that "I'm full," and to have had enough food.
  • Use toddler silverware (or a salad fork) because you can only put a small amount on the utensil.
  • Learn to use chopsticks for anything you eat. You can also find chopsticks that are attached at the top, for easy handling.
  • Switch hands to eat so you are using your non-dominant hand.
  • Put down your fork between bites.  Chew and swallow, then take a sip of water before your next bite.

Our environment is filled with food everywhere we turn, and it's easy to gobble down calories without even knowing it. But to focus on what you’re eating, you need to disconnect from the TV, phone, and all of your electronics. That’s a tough habit to break, but a necessary one to learn mindful eating. Here are some of my favorite ways to be mindful:

  • Remove food from your kitchen counters and coffee tables.  When it comes to food, out of sight means out of mind.
  • Replace a candy dish with grape tomatoes if you like to grab and go.
  • Keep a bowl of small fresh fruits in a bowl on your kitchen table. If you see it, you’ll it eat. 
  • Try pre-packed 100 calorie snacks or prepare your own. You get the mental satisfaction of “eating the whole thing.” This is a giant mental boost to avoid deprivation.  You’ll learn to pace your eating, and tell yourself "this is the whole serving."
  • Set the table, even if you’re the only one eating. This marks the start of a meal, and limits where you’ll be eating. It helps to break the “standing over the counter and eating” routine.

What other tips do you have? Please share them with all of us!

Week 1: How to lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day