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Stay-Slim Secrets From Dietitians

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

You might think that registered dietitians have no problem staying slim and eating right. But just like everyone else, they have cravings for sweets, treats, and comfort foods.

Striving for perfection just doesn't work. "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," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet.

One of the best ways to lose weight is "clean eating" that tastes great, with filling, satisfying foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, eggs, and plenty of water.

Help yourself to more of these strategies.

Eat Often

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

Exercise, and Make It Fun

"Exercise every day, no matter what, and track your eating and physical activity," says registered dietitian Jackie Haven.

Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia, works out 5-6 days a week and takes Sunday off to relax.

You're much more likely to stick with an activity you like. Playing tennis, riding your bike, and swimming are just a few examples of physical activities that feel more like fun than exercise.

Save Room for Your Favorites

"If you think of your diet like a bank account budget, you can account for that mid-afternoon piece of dark chocolate or glass of wine at dinner without consuming too many calories," registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward says.

She allows herself a 100-150 calorie treat every day, such as a 100-calorie fudge bar or a packet of Skinny Cow candy.

Weigh Yourself Regularly

Don't rely on how your pants fit. Weigh yourself at least once a week to avoid weight creep, Rosenbloom says.

Scaling back your portions, using smaller dishware, and adding protein and fiber at each meal will help stave off hunger and avoid gradual weight gain.

Be Present

Make every bite count. "Eat slowly, mindfully, [and] try not to multitask so you can concentrate on your meal, and never eat anything that doesn't taste good," dietitian Sheah Rarback says.

If you take up to 30 minutes to relax and enjoy your meal, you are more likely to notice when you're full and stop eating.

Fill Up

Washington University Nutrition Director Connie Diekman has one-two servings of protein at each meal to help her avoid feeling hungry.

Diekman pairs lean protein like cottage cheese, beans, or turkey with vegetables, soup, or salads for filling, low-calorie meals.

Stock Your Fridge

"Salad greens and apples are great foods that can be the base for a meal or ingredients to add nutrition and low-calorie fullness to any meal," Jackson Blatner says.

Rarback always eats a salad before dinner to fill up on water-rich veggies.

No Eating After Dinner

"After-dinner calories can really add up, but if you satisfy your urge with a relaxing cup of hot tea, it is easier to resist eating extra calories," says Joan Salge Blake, clinical assistant professor at Boston University.

Modify Your Favorite Foods and Beverages

Blatner makes her own beer margaritas using light beer and fresh lime juice. When she craves tacos, pizza, or pasta, she makes her own homemade versions that are hundreds of calories lighter than most restaurant versions. Cooking always gives you more control.

Reviewed on August 21, 2014

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