10 Ways to Make Your Diet Easier

By Hallie Levine

We're with you: Dieting is no picnic. But here's a little secret -- it's not nearly as hard as most of us think. "A lot of women believe they need to change everything, but in reality small tweaks to your diet can make a huge difference," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. We've got ten absolutely painless little fixes, culled from the latest research and the country's leading weight-loss experts, to make dropping those pounds as easy as 1, 2, 3, and beyond.

Related: You Can Do It! The Get Your Best Body Ever Plan

1. Say So Long to Soda
Every diet soft drink consumed each day could increase your risk of being overweight by 65 percent, according to a study presented at the American Dietetic Association. Other research suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually stimulate appetite, causing you to overeat. Instead, sip plain or sparkling water with lemon added for flavor. Related: The 8 Healthiest Drinks

2. Eat Like Clockwork
Women who eat erratically consume more calories and burn them less quickly than those who have six regular small meals each day, according to a British study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Don't go more than three or four hours without eating something. Related: 13 Ways to Kick Start Your Diet

3. Dust Off the Grapefruit Diet
Eating three servings of grapefruit a day (either half of a whole one or a cup of juice) for 12 weeks could help you lose just over three pounds, according to a recent study. "It helped lower insulin levels, which can contribute to weight loss by reducing appetite and encouraging fat burning," explains study author Ken Fujioka, MD, director of nutrition and metabolic research at Scripps Clinic in Del Mar, California. Related: How to Add More Color to Your Diet

4. Shop from a List
"Never go to the grocery store without a master list, which provides insurance against impulse buys," suggests Donald Hensrud, MD, an obesity specialist at the Mayo Clinic. And never, ever shop when you're hungry. Related: Easy Ways to Shop and Eat Healthier

5. Shop Around, Literally
The center aisles of your local supermarket are loaded with highly processed, sugary, and fatty foods. "The first couple of outer aisles is where you'll find all the fresh produce, dairy, and seafood," explains Oz Garcia, PhD, a nutritionist in New York City. Related: The Healthiest Foods in the Grocery Store

6. Have a V8 While You Cook
"I've had clients come in complaining that they can't lose weight, but then I find out that they're taking in hundreds of calories while preparing dinner," says Blatner. "Every little 'taste' counts!" Her tip? Sip a Low Sodium V8 juice. "It's only 50 calories per serving, but it will keep you feeling satisfied and stave off hunger pains so you're less inclined to snack," she explains. (The new Calcium Enriched V8 makes it easier to protect your bones, but that's another story!) Hate V8? Chew gum to keep your mouth occupied. Related: Easy Ways to Cut Mega Calories

7. Switch to Salsa
"I have clients spoon it on everything -- baked potatoes, veggies, even chicken or salmon," says Bethany Thayer, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "It's a serving of veggies that gives otherwise bland diet staples a little flavor and zest." The calorie savings are worth it: Two tablespoons of salsa instead of sour cream on a baked potato, for example, saves 42 calories and five fat grams. Related: Healthy Travel Diet: The Best Foods to Eat on the Road

8. Brush It Off
Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth right after you have a meal or a snack to quell the urge to keep nibbling. "It's both a physical and a psychological signal to your body that you're done eating," says Blatner. Related: We Tried It: The Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth at Home

9. K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Sweetie!)
People who eat a variety of foods, even low-fat ones, are more likely to have trouble keeping weight off than those who rely on a few diet staples, according to a National Weight Control Registry study published last May. "When people have a wide range of foods in front of them, they generally eat more," explains study author Holly Raynor, PhD, RD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School/the Miriam Hospital. The study showed that the most successful weight losers consistently consume just three to five staples from each food group, switching them around occasionally to prevent boredom. Related: Is Your Appetite Out of Control? Here's How to Find Out

10. Name That Craving
"One reason women overeat is that they don't hit their food craving right on the head -- they keep bingeing until they're finally satisfied," explains Blatner. Ask yourself what you really want: Salty? Sweet? Smooth? Crunchy? "Food cravings can be broken down into four categories," says Blatner. "If you are craving sweet and crunchy, try a mini bag of popcorn mixed with a little bit of artificial sweetener or even sugar. If you want sweet and creamy, opt for a light vanilla yogurt. If you're thinking about something salty and smooth, try a couple of pieces of low-fat string cheese; if you really want salty and crunchy, try a handful of dry-roasted nuts or soy nuts." Related: Supersize Your Self-Control for Good

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