One Mindless Trick to Eating Fewer Calories

October 12th, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Healthy Habits

I can’t seem to eat salad without hummus these days.

Hummus on Salad

Normally I try to spare you the daily salad shenanigans unless it’s something new or remarkable – and at first glance this salad is neither new or remarkable.

But Wait!

Today’s Hummus on Salad story has a moral to it.

It starts with the sad fact that our car died last week.  We found out today that the cost of repairs are going to be more than we’d prefer to sink into this car, so we’re done with it. Eight years and 150,000 miles later, the Honda Civic is off to car heaven.

*insert dramatic moment of silence here*

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it on the blog – but when Ava was a baby, Zak was the stay at home parent. His car kicked the bucket just before I went back to work and we decided to get by with one car (the Civic!) for a while. It wasn’t easy, but we managed.

And then Maxine was born and I became the stay at home parent.  I survived one and a half years at home with two small children before I was ready to plead “insanity” when we finally bought a second car.

So here we are, once again faced with the choice to go the one car route.  Admittedly, it’s a bit easier this time.  We live in the city now, so that means mass transit is an option for Zak to get to work.  Not ideal – but certainly do-able, and definitely cheap!  There will also be days where he takes the car and we simply stay home.

One car means more planning when it comes to grocery shopping, among other things.  It means fewer sporadic trips to the store for “three things” that inevitably turns into “ten things” by the time I get to the register.

This is where in with Hummus on Salad comes into play.  We’re running low on meal supplies here, hummus included.  There wasn’t much to put on a lunch time salad today, but I had ingredients to make my own (super creamy!) hummus, so that’s what I did.

More Options, More Calories

The shortage of salad toppings reminded me of an article I read once about people eating more calories when there are more options to choose from.  i.e., buffets, holiday meals – this urge to “sample” or take another piece or a bite of something simply because it’s there.  You’re a lot more likely to eat three pieces of pie when there are three different pies to choose from. (Or at least I’m more likely!)  The same is true for me at home. If I have lots of yummy options to load onto my salads – I load up!

The parallel I see is that fewer options often means less spending, in any myriad of ways.

Only one car? Money will be saved (in theory!) because there will be less options/less opportunity for spending.

Fewer salad toppings today?  Fewer were calories spent.  They would have been healthy options, sure. But even healthy foods have calories, and calories add up!  I was most certainly nourished and satisfied from today’s meal, rest assured.  If more options were there, I very well would have thrown them on there without giving it a second thought and spent more calories on lunch than I needed to.  (One more way food journaling brings awareness, I might add.)

The Moral of the Story, Finally

The “mindless calorie saving trick”?  If you want to save yourself some calories without really noticing, just give yourself fewer options.

Love ice cream or cookies or chocolate for a weekend treat? (Raising my hand high!) Buy one of those, not two or all three.  (Totally guilty.)

Going to a party where there’s already going to be a ton of food?  Bring something besides food. Like flowers! Or a game? Maybe a friend who likes to eat! (pick me!)

Love avocado and hummus on salad?  Wait to buy (or make) more hummus until the avocado is gone.  (But I love them both!!)

If it’s not there, you can’t eat it, and you probably won’t even miss it – especially if you give yourself permission to buy it “next time”.  And if you haven’t tried hummus on salad yet, get on it.

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6 Responses

  • Mama Pea says:

    This is so true. My fridge has almost nothing in it. I ate a very light dinner. Pickles count as dinner, right?

  • jen says:

    very true! it seems like I’m so much hungrier all the time when the house is stocked with food, and not really at all hungry when there’s nothing but the basics. If there’s only cut veggies in the fridge, that’s a fabulous snack! Unless there’s a pan of brownies on the counter..

    I don’t know if you eat fish but I am a tuna fiend.. I keep meaning to try hummus instead of mayo in my tuna salad. I thought of it because of the combo of eggs/hummus… not sure it’d work for me in egg salad.

    • I do eat tuna, and I LOVE mayo but try to eat it only occasionally. I make tuna salad for sandwiches with just a couple splashes of Italian dressing (homemade with canola oil) and have come to prefer it that way. hummus and tuna? certainly worth a try – I would be more apt to sub avocado for mayo first I think.

      I could also see putting plain tuna on salad with a scoop of hummus next to it and taking a little tuna with a little hummus on one forkful to see if they work together!

  • Daniel says:

    Though I’m sure I’m not overeating – far from it – I notice when I use the meals I earn at work (I work on campus at the dining center so I get free meals for working) I tend to eat a great deal more because of the mass variety of foods and the “all-u-can-eat” nature of it. I prefer much simpler meals made from what I have around the house.

    And hummus on salad is win! I cannot eat a salad without it anymore, and most of the time it replaces any dressing I would make and put on the salad in the first place. Every so often when I feel really ambitious I thin out the hummus with a bit of vinegar/water/soy milk and make a dressing out of it.