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The ABCs of Weight Loss

We've got 26 tips to help you succeed.

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Nighttime snacking, for most of us, is a habit that can undermine weight loss success. That's because the calories we eat after dinner tend to be empty ones, from chips, cookies, etc. Brushing your teeth after supper will help you make dinner the last meal of the day. If you need a little something at night, try to satisfy the urge with few calories -- have a stick of gum, one piece of hard candy, or a cup of hot tea).

One more scoop, one more cookie, one more glass of wine -- "just one more" can add lots of extra calories. Controlling portions is fundamental to weight loss success. You don't need to give up your favorite foods, but you do need to keep track of your portions. At home, use smaller plates and keep food at the stove instead of on the table at mealtime. When you go out to eat, order a soup and a salad instead of an entrée, or take home half your meal in a doggie bag.

Protein is the "secret sauce" to weight control. Include a source of protein -- lean meats, low-fat dairy, beans, or nuts -- in all meals and snacks to help keep you feeling full for hours.

Quit those old habits that caused you to gain weight, and replace them with healthier ones. Simple changes -- like lightening your coffee with low-fat milk instead of cream, switching to light mayonnaise, avoiding fried foods -- can help create healthier eating patterns that foster long-term weight loss.

Rely on friends, family, and/or an online community to help you in your weight loss efforts. Your motivation is at an all-time high when you start a weight loss program, but after a few weeks, it often starts to wane. Let your supporters help you get through the rough times.

Supplement your healthy eating plan with a once-daily multivitamin for nutritional insurance. Despite your best efforts, it can be hard to get all the nutrients you need every day. Taking a multivitamin will help fill in the gaps.

Track your eating patterns and physical activity every day. One of the tips of the "successful losers" tracked in the National Weight Control Registry is the importance of journaling food intake and activity. Entering this information into your online journal or in a notebook is a powerful motivator to help keep you working toward your goals.

Uncle Sam's latest dietary guidelines promise to make us happier, healthier and thinner. Tips from the government's recommendations (the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid) include:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat more whole grains. At least half of your servings of grain foods should come from whole grains.
  • Enjoy three servings of low-fat dairy each day (yogurt, milk, or cheese).
  • Limit saturated and trans fats, sugar, and alcohol.
  • Watch the sodium content of your diet. Eat less processed food to reduce sodium.
  • Get plenty of exercise -- at least 30 minutes a day.

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