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Better Food, Not More

Trends like the "slow food" movement, an interest in organic foods and in eating foods grown closer to home (being a "locavore") are further shifting the momentum away from foods to avoid to foods to enjoy.

"If you shop at farmers markets, you are going to be buying natural food, not junk food," says Moore.

K. Dunn Gifford, president of the Oldways Preservation Trust, a food issues think tank, says high-quality food is just more satisfying.

"We need to reduce our tendency toward over abundance and realize less food can be more satisfying when you choose foods with intense flavors and taste," Gifford says.

It can be a lot easier and more motivating to focus on what you can eat instead of what you should avoid, experts say.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 reported that obese women who avoided high-fat foods and focused on eating more fruits and vegetables lost 20% more weight that those who only avoided high-fat foods.

So what exactly should you be adding to your diet? Go for more plant foods and whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients and naturally lower in fat, salt, and sugar, experts say.

Nancy Rodriguez, PhD, RD, a nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut, says eating lean or low-fat protein at every meal will fill you up and make you less likely to overeat. Likewise, foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables -- high in fiber and water content -- are low in calories and help you feel full.

"When you fill up on nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, low-fat dairy, and other lean protein, there is less room for empty-calorie foods," Rodriguez says.

And what about those foods that taste good but aren't exactly packed with nutrients (except maybe calories)?

"It's OK to enjoy a small serving of those foods once in a while," says American Dietetic Association president Martin Yadrick, MA, RD.

Healthy Eating: Slow Down

Not only what you eat, but how you eat, is important when you're trying to eat healthfully and lose extra pounds, experts say.

One big step toward taking control of your diet is to eat more home-cooked meals.

"When you prepare it, you have total control over what is in the food, you can make it exactly how you like it, and better for you than in restaurants, where you have no idea what is in the food," says Ellie Krieger, RD, host of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite and author of The Food You Crave.

Also, forget about eating on the run. You'll enjoy your food more and ultimately, eat less, if you eat slowly and savor the flavors, Rodriguez says. Enjoy the conversation at the table, and give your brain time to get the signal that you are comfortably full.

"If you sit down and taste the food, you are more likely to be satisfied with less," she says.

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