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Calorie-Cutting Tricks

How to scale back without feeling deprived

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

When you think about going on a diet, the first word that jumps into your head is probably "deprivation." That's because most weight-loss plans are based on depriving you of your favorite foods, counting calories, and ultimately, leaving you hungry. Sooner or later -- usually sooner -- you get tired of feeling hungry all the time, say "to heck with this diet," and go back to your old habits. What follows is a vicious cycle: you gain weight, become disgusted with yourself, feel miserable, and make yet another commitment to find the right diet once and for all.

Well, you are in luck. The WebMD Weight Loss Clinic can show you the right way to tackle weight loss, a way that will free you from diets forever. And by losing weight, you will also get healthier. Losing as little as 5% to 10% of your body weight can significantly improve your health, especially if you have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

First, you need to be committed to making minor changes in your lifestyle. Second, give up the guilt! It's not a good motivator and has no place in weight management. Equipped with a positive attitude, you can follow a few easy steps to cut calories and win the battle of the bulge.

5 Easy Changes

We aim to teach you to make small changes in the amounts and types of foods you enjoy without asking you to give any food up completely. Forbidding foods creates incredible cravings! Instead of asking you to eliminate your favorite foods, we want you to enjoy them with these modifications:

  • Reduce the portion size. Anything less than you were eating is a step in the right direction. Increase your portions of heart-healthy vegetables, and try a meatless meal each week.
  • Indulge occasionally in those rich and decadent foods you love. If we said you could never have another piece of cheesecake, you would think and dream about it, perhaps even become obsessed with the restriction. It's better to satisfy your urges with small portions of what you crave. Just knowing you can have that hot fudge sundae once in a while is empowering, and helps keep your resolve strong.
  • Modify the food. If you love super-premium ice cream, try low-fat frozen yogurt. You may be surprised how a healthier alternative can satisfy your cravings. Using smart substitutes like those listed below is another way to modify your family favorites to make them healthier. Don't forget to visit our own Recipe Doctor message board for Elaine Magee's great suggestions on making food nutritious and delicious.
  • Cut the fat. Fat has 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have only 4. If you simply reduce the fat content of your diet, you can cut calories while eating about the same amount of food. Also, eating a lower-fat diet makes you feel better and will improve your health.
  • Pump up the fiber. Eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes is a great way to feel satisfied on fewer calories. These foods are loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, both of which have been shown to lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.

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