published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The Shape We're In: Mix-and-match these simple calorie cutters

It's one of the cardinal rules of calorie-counting: Chew your food slowly, and you'll feel full faster.

That's always been a challenge for me, a bad habit ingrained since childhood.

As kids, my brother and I ate quickly to avoid dinnertime how-was-your-day-interrogations by our mother. Those meals were the original "fast food," long before a McDonald's ever raised its golden arches on Brainerd Road.

As an adult at work, scarfing down lunch at my desk was the norm. As a mother of teenagers, dinners were frequently just pit stops between sports games for one or both sons playing that day.

If I'd known this tip then, I might have slowed down. Studies have proven that women who chewed at least 20 times before swallowing ate up to 70 calories less at mealtime. My first reaction: 20 times! What mother has time for that?

That and several other facts were part of an email list of calorie-counting tips put together by a website called The tips are all fat burners you can do without stepping foot inside a gym. The premise is to mix-and-match the ones most suited to your lifestyle to cut calories.

* Swap a bagel for an English muffin to slash 220 calories.

* Try a glass of skim milk instead of whole to save 70 calories.

* Exchange a serving of pork sausage for turkey sausage to cut about 125 calories.

* Trade a cup of granola, which can have up to 600 calories, with a cup of high-fiber cereal, which has only about 120.

* Walk during your lunch hour for five days, and burn 500 extra calories.

* Use hummus or mustard instead of mayo, and sub a roll for sliced bread on your sandwich, and cut about 200 calories.

* Opt for a salad instead of fries to save 300 calories.

* Downsize your dinner plates. Going from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate will cut 500 calories without leaving you feeling deprived.

* Wait 20 to 30 minutes to have a second helping. If you do opt for seconds, you're more likely to get a smaller helping because hunger won't be driving your appetite.

* Trade a side of traditional potato salad for sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions tossed with fat-free Italian dressing to cut 258 calories.

* Save up to 400 calories by making grilled fruit kebabs for a dessert. Slice one peach and one small banana into quarters, thread four pieces of fruit each onto two skewers, and brush with one tablespoon honey each. Grill each side for about 4 minutes, or until flesh is tender but still firm. Sprinkle on cinnamon.

* Replace oil with applesauce when baking, and save 160 calories.

* Top a dessert with a dollop of light whipped topping instead of vanilla ice cream to save 220 calories.

* Leaving a quarter of a restaurant meal on your plate can save up to 500 calories. Leaving a few bites of any potato or noodle dish cuts up to 100 calories.

* Swapping water for soda can save you about 300 calories a day if you drink two cans.

* Don't eat and watch. People who snack in front of the television consume an average of 288 extra calories a day because they're eating mindlessly.

* Doing some kind of cardio during commercials, such as jumping rope or jogging in place, burns about 10 calories a minute.

* Spend two hours cleaning your garage or vacuuming and dusting the house to slash about 408 calories.

* Spend an afternoon food shopping and unloading groceries to burn close to 500 calories. Cook dinner to burn 136.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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