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5 Big-Payoff Diet Changes

3. Drink Water, Not Lattes continued...

Water, on the other hand, goes a long way in boosting health. Every cell in your body needs it to work properly. Water also helps your digestion.

Trade sugary drinks for water. Aim for about six to eight glasses a day. To help reach that goal, start and end your day with a tall glass of water and keep a water bottle with you during the day.

Need more flavor? Drop a slice of lemon or lime into your glass.

4. Eat More Fiber

Want to reduce belly fat, have more energy, and lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer? Simply bump up your fiber intake.

Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans can also lower your cholesterol and boost digestion. Plus fiber makes you feel fuller longer, which is great for keeping off extra pounds, says Jessica Crandall, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To get more fiber, replace refined breads with whole-grain breads, choose brown rice instead of white rice, and switch to whole-wheat pasta.

Start your day with a bran muffin or oatmeal. Snack on an apple, a cup of berries, or popcorn.

You can also add fiber to your usual foods. "Sprinkle high-fiber cereal on top of your yogurt or add flaxseeds to your salad to give it a flavor pop as well as a high-fiber benefit," Crandall says.

5. Keep Portions in Check

Reaching for a smaller plate may be the easiest thing you can do for a healthier diet. A study by Cornell University found that people eat less that way.

Why? It's an optical illusion. "Your mind is tricked into eating less by being visually satisfied," Crandall says.

"Portion control is good for many different things, whether it's obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes," she says. If you're trying to lose weight, portion control is key.

More strategies for keeping your portions in check:

  • Eat from a plate (not out of a bag).
  • Avoid nibbling in front of the TV.
  • Buy single-serve portions.
  • Eat slowly, enjoying the flavors and aromas of every bite.

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