Eat at least one more vegetable or fruit at every meal. Keep cut-up raw veggies in the front of the fridge and fruit on the counter where you'll see it. Have healthy dips on hand, like hummus, peanut butter, and low-fat yogurt. Load extra veggies into your sandwiches, pizzas, salads, soups, and omelets. Pureed veggies like butternut squash can thicken soup and other dishes and add nutrients to them. Mix cauliflower puree in with mashed potatoes.
Try to reduce fast-food temptations. Take a different route to avoid seeing drive-through restaurants. Keep fruit or nuts with you to tide you over until you get home or to work. If you can't resist, choose lower-calorie options like grilled chicken or low-fat chili. And look for fruit or veggie options like a salad (watch the dressing) or plain baked potato as a side. Order regular or small sizes, and avoid value meals. Sip water or diet soda instead of sugary soda.
Eat one more healthy snack a day. Instead of reaching for cookies or chips, enjoy a small handful of nuts or trail mix, or low-fat yogurt (watch for added sugar). Take advantage of fresh fruit in season. Citrus fruits like oranges are especially good because they take time to peel and eat. Eat pretzels or a few whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese. But only snack when you're really hungry -- not just bored or stressed -- and only eat one serving.
Plan every day so your only option isn't a restaurant. Use a slow cooker so a hot, healthy meal is ready and waiting for you when you come home at dinner time. Cook more than you need, and freeze half. Then you'll have frozen meals you can take out whenever you need them. You can even make easy-to-fix healthy breakfasts -- like oatmeal with fruit -- for lunch or dinner.
Eat only when you're actually hungry. When you feel satisfied -- but before you feel full -- stop eating, even if there's still food on your plate. Don't sit in front of the TV or computer when you eat. Multitasking leads to overeating. Pay attention to your food. When you tune in to your appetite signals, you're less likely to eat just because you're bored.
Get unhealthy snacks out of your office -- or at least out of plain sight. You'll eat less if you don't have food within easy reach. If you tend to graze mindlessly at work, don't keep food at your desk. Keep it at least 6 feet away from where you sit. The distance makes you think each time you grab a bite. Take time for a real lunch break, away from your desk.
Just like eating at home, planning can help you make smarter choices in restaurants. Find one that serves a children's menu or smaller portion sizes. Don't let yourself get so hungry that you overeat. Have a healthy snack beforehand. Or start with a clear (not creamy) soup or salad. Cut your meal in half and take one half home. Or split an entrée with a friend. Ask the waiter not to bring any bread or tortilla chips to your table.
Give up one sugary soda a day. Cutting just one can of regular cola means losing more than 30 grams of sugar -- or about 8 teaspoons -- from your diet. Replace sodas and other sugary drinks with diet soda, water or unsweetened tea. Other ways to cut sugar: Fresh fruit or fruit canned in water or juice has less sugar than fruit canned in syrup. And choose unsweetened cereals.
If you're too rushed in the morning to make breakfast, take it with you to eat at school or work. Portable breakfast items can include granola or breakfast bars, containers of yogurt, instant oatmeal packets, or pieces of fresh fruit. Muffins, bagels, and other baked goods are often larger than a single serving -- consider portion sizes carefully. Even if you don't like typical breakfast foods, it's important to eat something in the morning to fuel your body.
Don't give up on healthy eating just because you're out of time. Have a healthy-eating plan in place for days when you work late or have errands to run. Keep nutritious snacks with you, like trail mix, whole grain cereal, or fruit. Keep healthy foods in your freezer. Learn which restaurants and supermarket delis have salad, soup, or grilled chicken so if you have to eat "to go," you can make healthy choices.
Eat a healthy snack before you go, so you won't overeat at the buffet. Fill a small plate with at least half fruit and veggies. Limit your portions of desserts and high-calorie dishes to just a taste -- a bite or two. Once you've eaten, step away from the food. If you have a conversation around the buffet table, it's too tempting to just keep snacking. Drinks can be high in calories, too. Whether you're drinking alcohol or sodas, use moderation.
Keep a food journal to pay attention to what you eat and how you feel when you eat it. You may be surprised by your eating habits. You can write down your meals or download an app for your smart phone or tablet. You don't have to track your meals every day. Just track it one day a week or for a few days to get an idea of what and how you eat.
Stay strong when it comes to healthy eating. The waiter might tell you that you can't have sauce on the side. Your coworker might pressure you to try her homemade treats. Remember that every bite adds up, so it's important not to give in over and over. Explain why you're saying no if you want to -- or just politely decline. You don't owe people an explanation, but you owe yourself good health.
Think small. Trade your large plates and silverware for small ones. Brian Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating," says we eat 22% less on a 10-inch than a 12-inch plate. Use a tablespoon, not a serving spoon, to dish out portions. Think about what you put on your plate to make sure you really want it. Serve from the stove instead of the table, so second helpings aren't right in front of you. Eat slowly so your body has time to tell your brain you're full.
It's easier to be strong when you have family or friends on your side. Ask a buddy or family member to eat healthy with you. Hold each other accountable. Don't make healthy meals or snacks just for yourself but let your family eat what they want. Everyone should eat healthy. Then if someone is tempted to slip, the whole team is there for support. Or use technology to download an app or find a web site that will keep you on track.
Make one small, specific healthy eating goal at a time and then reward yourself for meeting it. Don't overwhelm yourself by making many changes at once. Post reminders where you can see them every day or set a reminder on your smart phone. Try not to reward yourself with foods that undo your healthy eating habits. But find some other way to celebrate meeting goals. How about gourmet herbal teas or a massage?
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