The $20 Gadgets That Helped These People Lose 100 Pounds

updated May 1, 2019
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I switched to a mostly plant-based way of eating nearly three years ago and haven’t looked back. Above all other food groups, I love vegetables — and eating them has helped me stay healthier, maintain my weight loss, and, most importantly, keep me feeling good year-round.

Eventually, roasting carrots and eggplant and squash on baking sheets each night got boring, though, and I had to find other ways to stay in love with veggies. When I found a mandoline, a handheld slicer that allows you to create paper-thin slices of most anything, my salads got larger and my plates got more colorful — a thinly sliced veg is just a bit more fun to eat!

Still in love with my mandoline, I spoke with others who lost a lot of weight to understand the tools and gadgets that helped them maintain a healthy balance and keep up feel-good food habits. Their recommended gadgets — all priced at $20 or less — make for super-helpful ways to stay healthy (and a bit more mindful) throughout the year.

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I now use this fancier green-hued mandoline, but this OXO version was a great starter tool for slicing up all my vegetables and firm fruits. I found my salads looked prettier and even tasted better. Just make sure to use the finger guard to protect yourself from slips. Bonus: I also use the mandoline to make long pasta-like strips of zucchini and squash to enjoy with hot tomato or pesto-based sauces.

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2. Mercer Grey Round Salad Plates, $5 each at Crate & Barrel

Taji, a 43-year-old chef who lost nearly 100 pounds, explains, “I eat all of my meals at home on salad-sized plates. It helps me to start with a smaller portion and then check in with myself to see if I really want or need more food. I’m convinced this single practice is what helped me stop eating so much food just out of habit.”

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In addition, Taji says, “Drinking enough water has been a game-changer for me. Staying hydrated helps me tune in to when I’m really hungry. And the only way I drink enough water is if it’s cold and through a straw. This tumbler keeps my water cold and fits into the drink holder in my car.”

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Rose, age 36, a weight loss coach who lost nearly 150 pounds, shares, “Without question, my must-have gadget is a Microplane. It’s essential for adding bright, fresh flavor to newly lightened recipes. And it couldn’t be easier to use!” She uses hers daily “to grate fresh ginger into stir-fry meals, orange zest into baked goods, lemon zest onto fish, and so much more.” In fact, she retired her garlic press, since she can now make freshly minced garlic in seconds by grating it on the Microplane.

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A digital scale is the first gadget that comes to Martha’s mind. Martha, age 47, a book packager and literary agent who lost 180 pounds and has kept much of it off, explains, “A scale is critical for figuring out the actual nutrients of any fresh food, if you’re the sort who counts calories and other nutritional values.”

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Martha says that food storage containers are important for portioning out a large batch of anything for the freezer. “I divide it up based on the portion I like to eat. It’s just super helpful to have those ready-made servings,” she explains. “Winter, in particular, is an ideal time to use freezer containers since it’s soup and stew season.”

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Irina, age 32, a freelance writer and editor who lost more than 100 pounds, says that the number-one thing that helped her lose — and keep off — the weight is learning how to cook and love veggies. “I had to learn how to apply the flavors of my Cuban childhood to vegetables and I used spices to nurture healthy cooking habits.” Irina kept a spice rack nearby so that she could showcase her latest and favorite spices. “I used spices to flavor everything — but especially vegetables that I had never eaten previously.” Her favorite combinations are Herbes de Provence-flavored sweet potatoes, Jerk seasoning on asparagus, turmeric and curry on cauliflower, and even Garam Masala on kale.

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While Irina might not be a fan of single-use kitchen tools, her life changed when her grandmother gifted her a tomato knife. “I love tomatoes and could eat them with every meal, and I use this tomato knife almost every day,” she explains. She enjoys tomatoes quite simply, with just salt and pepper alongside scrambled eggs in the morning. But she also slices them into a cucumber-tomato salad for snacking, or makes a cherry tomato sauce to toss with pasta and a few other vegetables for a quick dinner. She adds, “I’ve had this tomato knife for five years and it’s still in great shape.”