Get back to basics and listen to your body signals. Start by rating your hunger on a five-point scale:
0 = ravenous
1 = hungry
2 = could eat, could wait
3 = satisfied, no longer
4 = uncomfortably full
5 = stuffed
Give yourself a rating before you start eating and another rating when you finish. You should eat when you're hungry (1) and stop when you're no longer hungry (3)*.
To feel full with fewer calories, try these tips from Barbara Rolls, co-author of "The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan" (HarperTorch, 2003), whose research shows that people have greater success with weight loss when they eat larger servings of foods that have a high water content, such as cooked grains, vegetables, fruits, soups and stews:
* To lower the calories and increase the portion size of a favorite recipe, pump up the volume by adding vegetables as often as you can. This way, you can eat your usual portion for fewer calories.
* Choose fresh fruits over dried fruits or juices. For 100 calories, you could eat 1/4 cup of raisins or two cups of grapes. (You're more likely to fill up on the grapes.)
* Whip air into your yogurt and fruit snack by putting it into a blender and turning it into a smoothie.
* Try air-popped popcorn (3 cups is only 90 calories) or flaky or puffed cereals.
* Start lunch or dinner with a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup or a big vegetable salad with low-calorie dressing.
* Turn main courses into soups or salads by adding water or vegetables.
-- Katherine Tallmadge
*Adapted from "Eating Awareness Training" by Molly Groger (Summit Books, 1983)