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Dietitians' Stay-Slim Secrets

Registered dietitians share their tips for staying in shape.
WebMD Expert Column

Registered dietitians are the authoritative nutrition experts -- so how do we practice what we preach and still enjoy the pleasures of food and decadent indulgences?

Knowing the science of nutrition and all about calories is the first step toward a healthy lifestyle approach to staying slim.

But most dietitians' diets are not all about broccoli. We have cravings just like everyone else and love to indulge in our favorites, from sweets, treats, to alcoholic beverages.

And yet being a registered dietitian comes with an implied responsibility to set a good example, at least most of the time. For the most part, I eat healthy, buy nourishing foods, and enjoy the taste of eating right -- but not always.

Striving for perfection is a recipe for disaster for anyone, including dietitians, says The Flexitarian Diet author Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD. "The people who are the most successful managing their weight are 'B' students who eat healthy and exercise about 80% of the time and allow themselves to indulge 20% of the time."

Waist-Slimming Basics

Many of the experts, just like you, said they would like to shave a few pounds.

"It becomes harder and harder to keep those youthful figures as you get older because your metabolism slows down about 2% each decade after the age of 25," says Georgia State University nutrition professor emerita Christine Rosenbloom, RD, PhD.

Even though many of the dietitians I spoke with would like to be slimmer, their secrets have kept them at a healthy weight while still enjoying indulgences -- as well as plenty of belly-filling foods.

There are all kinds of tricks to help you lose weight, but one of the best strategies is to eat healthy food that fills you up but won't fill you out.

Dietitians' diet plans are based on an abundance of naturally healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, eggs, and plenty of good old-fashioned water. Clean eating, or choosing minimally processed foods, was another recurring theme among the experts whom I interviewed.

Here are more of their tips for smarter weight control:

Eat every few hours and never skip breakfast.

When you eat frequently, and control how much you eat each time, you can speed up metabolism, feel full, balance blood sugar levels, and get long-lasting energy, says American Dietetic Association spokesman Jim White, RD. 

A handful of nuts and dried fruit, veggies and hummus, or Greek yogurt with fruit are a few examples of healthy mini meals. White says skipping breakfast makes you more likely to overeat later in the day.

No excuses: Move it.

Don't let busy schedules derail your fitness efforts. "Exercise every day, no matter what, and track your eating and physical activity using trackers," says Jackie Haven, MS, RD, U.S. Department of Agriculture marketing and communication director. White works out 5-6 days a week but always takes off Sunday to relax.

WebMD and My Plate have free trackers or use your own diary to log your food and physical activity.

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