Become your sleekest, healthiest, (happiest!) self in only one month--no deprivation needed. Simply try one tip a day to make over your eating habits and your body--once and for all.
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By Tula Karras
Week 1: Chow done! Starving is a one-way ticket off the weight loss wagon. Practice filling up on healthy eats to stay satisfied and stick with the plan.
Make smart swaps: When researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore gave people lunches made with mushrooms or the same meals made with meat, the 'shroom consumers ate 42 percent fewer calories than those eating the beefier dishes. Ounce for ounce, fungi have fewer calories than meat, but are as filling. Also consider using carrots, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Today, cook with veggies instead of high-calorie animal protein in casseroles, pasta dishes and sandwiches. Try these smart swaps for your favorite high-calorie goodies. They're better for you, but still tasty enough to satisfy.
Focus on real food: Many dieters start their battle of the bulge by filling their fridge with light versions of treats such as ice cream or muffins. Resist the urge! "Diet" food leaves you unsatisfied (physically and mentally) and lures you into believing you can eat multiple servings of cake for minimal calories. "Instead, eat a sane serving of the real thing," says Molly Gee, R.D., a project leader in the department of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Savor an ounce of dark chocolate, a cube of cheese or a scoop of ice cream.
Week 2: Clean up your eating. Now that you're full and energized, your mission is to seek and destroy empty calories, the sneaky freeloaders that add nothing to your body but dead weight.
Be a calorie sleuth. A couple of chips here, a few jelly beans there-these bites add up. Six potato chips (48 calories) + 10 small jelly beans (41) + 5 fries (101) + 1 glazed doughnut hole (75) = 265 calories. Today, figure out when you nibble and try to outsmart yourself. "If you notice you eat sweets when you're sleepy, eat a snack such as carrots and hummus when you're low on zzz's," Jarosh says.
Give fake sweeteners the slip. Adding no-calorie faux sugar to your coffee may seem like a slimming choice, but it could backfire on your diet. In an eight-year study reported in the journal Obesity, people who used artificial sweeteners saw their body-mass index readings increase 47 percent more than the BMIs of those who refrained. Artificial sweeteners may trigger your cravings for high-calorie foods. Still have a sweet tooth? These exotic winter fruits will curb your cravings.
Week 3: Serve to scale. Size matters: Now that you're eating the right foods, practice eating perfect portions. Speaking of size, all these tweaks are tiny. The results? Substantial.
Have a slimmer Saturday. Weekend graze-athons could be standing between you and a smaller size. Another study in the journal Obesity found women eat 236 more calories on Saturday than on weekdays, which could result in a 9-pound gain over the course of a year. To enjoy the weekend without calorie overload, trim the fat. At brunch, order eggs with ham instead of bacon, and on your pizza, skip extra cheese and pepperoni and ask for extra tomato sauce and veggies. And eat more to weigh less with these20 superfoods for weight loss.
Pump up the volume. Do you overdo it at snack time? Choose a high-volume version of the nosh you want. Researchers at Penn State University Park found that people ate 21 percent fewer calories when given cheese puffs, compared with those given denser nibbles. "The snack looks bigger, so you feel satisfied with fewer calories," says Barbara Rolls, Ph. D., lead researcher and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (HarperPaperbacks). Rice cakes, popcorn and puffed cereal all deliver volume for fewer calories.
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Week 4: Think yourself thinner. This week is devoted to adopting smart, healthy behaviors to help you maintain your new slimming habits forever.
Flatter yourself. Women who see themselves as heavier than they are have a harder time maintaining weight loss after a year, a study in Eating and Weight Disorders notes. "Every time you catch yourself saying something negative about your body today, write down a compliment and repeat it 10 times instead," says Margo Maine, Ph.D., a body-image expert in West Hartford, Connecticut, and author of The Body Myth (Wiley).
Put bargains on ice. Cash might be tight, but avoid trimming from the gorcery budget. People who spend more on food tend to weighg less becasue nutrient-rich vegetables, fruit and lean meant cost more that empty-calorie choices, Drewnowski says. To save cash and eat well, fill your freeze with healthy bargains. Purchase two weeks' worth of healthy proteins that are on sale, such as lean sirloin and wild salmon, and freeze half to use later. Also stock up on forzen veggies and fruit; they cost less than fresh but pack as many nutrients.
Find all 28 of our weight loss tips here!
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