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11 Food Habits that Help You Lose Weight

Add these habits to your daily routine and watch the pounds drop off

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lose weight scale weighing

Eat five or six small meals or snacks a day instead of three large meals

A South African study found that when men ate parts of their morning meal at hourly intervals, they consumed almost 30 percent fewer calories at lunch than when they ate the same amount of food at one time. Other studies show that despite eating the same number of calories distributed this way, your body releases less insulin, which keeps blood sugar steady and helps reduce hunger.

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Treat high-calorie foods as crown jewels

Rather than topping a bowl of ice cream with a few berries, top a bowl of berries with a spoonful of ice cream. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling, fresh salsa. Balance a little cheese with a lot of salad. Don’t eat a whole steak with a veggies on the side; put a few strips of grilled steak on top of a mound of vegetables.

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orange juice

After breakfast, make water your primary drink

At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. You probably know that sweetened drinks are ultra-high in calories. You may not know that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way food does, according to several studies. So you just keep drinking and eating.

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Small portion

Downsize your dinner plates

Studies find that the more food in front of you, the more you’ll eat – regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using large dinner plates (which make them look forlornly empty if they’re not heaped with food), serve your main course on salad plates. The same goes for liquids. Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the old days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups.

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woman eating cereal breakfast

Only eat in your eating chair

Designate one chair at your kitchen table as the only place you will eat, and force yourself to only eat there while at home, whether it’s meals or snacks. That means no food in front of the television, or while reading in the den, or in your bedroom. We’re not sure when the entire house became an eating zone, but by restricting yourself to one eating spot, you will greatly reduce mindless noshing.

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raw food

Serve raw foods at every meal

Vegetables or fruit, that is. Cut-up carrots, celery, radishes, cauliflower, oranges, peaches, apples, or even snap peas are suitable at every meal. Put a plate in the middle of the table, and make it a rule that the meal isn’t over until the plate is empty. They’re awesomely healthy, filling, and take the place of higher-calorie cooked foods.

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Don’t stock splurge food

Leave cake, ice cream, potato chips, buttered bagels, and other high-calorie splurges for the occasional opportunity away from home. If you buy a carton of ice cream for your home, you’ll quickly eat a carton of ice cream. Why even be tempted?

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women eating restaurant

Serve your meals restaurant style

That means putting food on plates while in the kitchen, rather than serving food family style (in bowls and platters on the table). Even better: put away the leftovers before sitting down to eat. That way, when your plate is empty, you’re finished. No food to grab from the table, or even from the stove.

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Have a bowl of clear soup or a vegetable-rich salad at every lunch and dinner

A body of research finds that eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption. Other water-rich foods include soups and salads. You won’t get the same benefits by just drinking your water, though. Because the body processes hunger and thirst through different mechanisms, it simply doesn’t register a sense of fullness with water (or soda, tea, coffee, or juice).

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Fruits and Vegetables

Use vegetables to bulk up meals

You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries. And add vegetables to make a fluffier, more satisfying omelet without having to increase the number of eggs.

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bread basket

Avoid white foods

There is scientific legitimacy to today’s lower-carb diets: Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. But you shouldn’t toss out the baby with the bathwater. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, you should eat plenty of whole grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74,000 women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff.

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