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Helpful Hints for a Healthy Weight

Most people consider losing weight a difficult proposition. Few folks have the time or interest to count calories or fat grams. Others have no patience for restrictive diets or complex dietary regimens. And even fewer are interested in the other part of losing weight, regular exercise.

But you can lose a significant amount of weight by making small changes in your eating habits that don't require record keeping or a food scale.

Use the following tips to help you shed unwanted pounds.

Healthy habits:

  • Prepare a healthy shopping list before you go to the supermarket, and stick to the list.

  • Confine your meals to the dining room or kitchen table.

  • Pour a reasonable portion of cookies (one or two, depending on size), chips, or crackers (a small handful) onto a plate or into a bowl instead of eating directly out of a box or bag.

  • Freeze leftovers immediately so you can't raid the refrigerator later.

  • Drink six to eight glasses of water a day, including a glass immediately before mealtime. Water helps you feel full faster and longer and also helps your body digest food.

  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is packed with calories, but no nutrients. Also, it increases appetite and weakens your willpower to avoid the wrong food choices.

  • Begin lunch or dinner with a broth-based hot soup. It forces you to eat more slowly and fills you up so you don't overeat.

  • Eat more slowly. Rushing through meals doesn't give your brain adequate time to register and signal you when you're full.

  • When dining out, request sauces and low-calorie dressings be served on the side so you can use as much or as little as you want.

  • Never leave home starving when heading out for a restaurant meal. Before you go, eat a light snack, such as a piece of fruit or a carrot, or drink a glass of tomato or vegetable juice.

  • Don't eat while watching TV. Watching the tube instead of your plate can lull you into overeating; so will the food and snack commercials.

  • Stick to your own plate. Nibbling off someone else's dish may seem harmless but the calories add up.

  • Choose healthy items if you eat fast food. To do so, avoid fried foods and "super-sized" portions.

  • Don't go food shopping on an empty stomach. Eat a little something first or you'll be tempted to buy more than you should.

Cooking light:

  • If a recipe calls for a quarter-cup of oil, cut that amount in half; your taste buds won't know the difference, but your waistline will.

  • Sauté foods in chicken stock, low-sodium soy sauce, wine, or water instead of fat.

  • Broil, bake, roast, boil or stir-fry instead of frying, deep-frying or breading and frying.

  • Use nonstick pans and a nonstick oil spray to eliminate the oil or butter for sautéing.

  • When sautéing with oil, try a flavorful one such as olive oil or sesame oil. You'll need less.

  • Add a pinch of grated Parmesan or blue cheese to recipes. You'll add flavor, but not many calories.

  • Substitute mashed bananas, prunes, or applesauce for oil when baking.

  • Add spices to your meals instead of fat. Fresh herbs perk up any dish without adding calories. Experiment with different ethnic foods and seasonings; they're often full of flavor, not fat.

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