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28 Eating Secrets to Help You Lose Weight (and Save Money Too!)

by
author image Kelly Plowe, M.S., RD, CSSD
Kelly Plowe is a registered dietitian and the senior supervising producer for LIVESTRONG.COM. She received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics and kinesiology from Michigan State University. Plowe went on to work in Boston as a clinical dietitian while pursuing her master’s degree in advertising from Boston University.

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28 Eating Secrets to Help You Lose Weight (and Save Money Too!)
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Just by making small changes you can get in control of your eating and lose weight. The 28 tips we’re sharing with you were used by members of the LIVESTRONG.COM team to achieve and maintain their goal weight. Believe it or not, these minor tweaks and adjustments to your lifestyle can add up to big calorie savings and can help you reach your goals too. Ready to start enjoying healthy eating? Here are 28 practical tips that can help you lose weight and even save you some money.

1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
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1 OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

Don’t “hide” the fruit and vegetables in the bottom crisper drawers of your refrigerator. You may forget about them when it’s time for a snack. Always keep fresh fruit visible and at the ready -- in a fruit bowl on the kitchen table, on top of your desk or cut up and portioned out in containers in your refrigerator. For fruits, consider apple slices, orange slices and grapes portioned into baggies or small containers for grab-and-go convenience. Don’t forget about your veggies! Cut a red or green pepper into slices or cut carrots and celery into handy sticks and portion them all into containers in the refrigerator. This way, when you’re hungry you’re more likely to reach for a healthy snack.

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

2. Always Include Protein
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2 ALWAYS INCLUDE PROTEIN

Make sure you eat some protein with every meal -- it’s the most satiating nutrient. If you eat oatmeal for breakfast, be sure to add some protein to it to make it more balanced and filling. A tablespoon of natural peanut butter or a scoop of protein powder will do the trick.

Related: 13 Surprising Vegetarian Sources of Protein

3. Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
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3 BE PREPARED AND PLAN AHEAD

Planning ahead and being prepared is most important when you’re working on eating healthy foods in the correct portions. Deciding your weekly menu and shopping in advance will arm you for success. Prepare your meals and snacks for the week on Sunday, and portion them out in your refrigerator in containers. You can hard-boil six or seven eggs and keep them in the refrigerator for breakfasts or snacks. Or cook up a large batch of steel-cut long-cooking oats (since this variety contains the most nutrients) on Sunday, and measure it into single-portion sizes in bowls covered with plastic wrap in your refrigerator. You can reheat these in one minute in the microwave each morning before work. You can also grill up a bunch of chicken breast, tofu or fish and portion it along with steamed asparagus, broccoli or green beans into containers for lunches, dinners and snacks.

Related: 13 Meal-Prep Hacks to Save Time in the Kitchen

4. Portion Control Is in Your Hands
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4 PORTION CONTROL IS IN YOUR HANDS

Don’t want to measure everything? All it takes is one hand to make sure you are eating the correct portions. When planning or creating any meal, portion out a palm-size amount of meat, tofu or other protein; at least two handfuls of vegetables; no more than one handful of fruit; and a thumb-size portion of fats.

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

5. Know Your ANDI Scores
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5 KNOW YOUR ANDI SCORES

Eat foods (fruits and vegetables) with high Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scores. The five most nutrient-dense veggies are kale, watercress, collard greens, bok choy and spinach. The five most nutrient-dense fruits are strawberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries and blueberries. When you eat foods that are highest in nutrients, you are putting the highest quality “fuel” into your body.

Related: 11 Nutrients Americans Aren't Getting Enough Of

6. Track Your Eating Using an App or Journal
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6 TRACK YOUR EATING USING AN APP OR JOURNAL

Logging your meals in a journal or on an app such as MyPlate on your computer or mobile phone is a great way to stay on top of what you’re eating. This is also a helpful tool for cutting down on calories consumed if you’re trying to lose weight.

Related: LIVESTRONG's Free Calorie MyPlate Tracker App

7. Eliminate Temptations
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7 ELIMINATE TEMPTATIONS

Go through your refrigerator and pantry and round up all of the indulgent snacks. If you have opened packages or containers, toss them out. It may seem wasteful, and it can feel painful to throw away food that you spent money on, but that doesn’t mean you should keep this food in your home and let it literally weigh down your body. Most cities have food pantries and food banks that are willing to accept unopened canned goods and some dry goods. Do a search online for the nearest food pantry and find out what you can donate. If you absolutely have to keep some of this junk food around (perhaps for other family members), store it out of sight (on the top shelf of the cupboard or pantry). If it’s out of sight, you’ll eat less.

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

8. “Hara Hachi Bu” -- Eat Until You're 80 Percent Full
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8 “HARA HACHI BU” -- EAT UNTIL YOU'RE 80 PERCENT FULL

The Japanese have a great expression concerning healthy eating habits: “Hara hachi bu,” which means “eat until 80 percent full.” Try eating your next meal until you’re 80 percent full. Take slower bites, chew carefully and make sure you spend at least 20 minutes eating and enjoying your food slowly. Since it takes between 20 to 30 minutes for the brain to realize you’re full, eating this way will help you to consume less.

Related: Check out LIVESTRONG's Free Calorie Tracker App

9. Ask Yourself This Question…
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9 ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION…

Tape this message to your refrigerator or kitchen cupboard so you’ll see it every time you open the door: "Is It Worth It?"

Related: Check out LIVESTRONG's Free Calorie Tracker App

10. Half an Avocado a Day...
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10 HALF AN AVOCADO A DAY...

Eat half an avocado every day. A recent study found that eating avocados daily is associated with higher levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), a lower body weight and a smaller waist circumference.

Related: 12 Yummy New Avocado Recipes

11. Fill Half of Your Plate With Veggies
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11 FILL HALF OF YOUR PLATE WITH VEGGIES

Getting your daily recommended seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day can seem challenging, but if you make sure every snack and meal includes at least one to two servings, you’ll be there by the end of the day. Try filling at least half of your plate with vegetables during lunch and dinner. This will help cut calories without leaving you feeling hungry.

Related: 11 Nutrients Americans Aren't Getting Enough Of

12. Spice Things Up
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12 SPICE THINGS UP

Add spices, salsa or chili pepper to your food for a flavor boost that can speed up your metabolism and help you feel satisfied faster.

Related: 7 Ways to Add the Health Benefits of Turmeric to Your Diet

13. Calorie-Cutting Pasta Swaps
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13 CALORIE-CUTTING PASTA SWAPS

If you’re eating pasta, swap out one cup of your portion of pasta for one cup of vegetables. This will increase the nutrition in your meal and help to fill you up with fewer calories. If you do this for every pasta meal, you could lose a dress or pants size in a year. You can also try cooking up some spaghetti squash and substituting it for your pasta with the same sauce.

Related: Cut Calories With These 9 "Pasta Poser" Recipes

14. All-Natural Snack Packs
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14 ALL-NATURAL SNACK PACKS

Half of an apple sliced and smeared with peanut butter or almond butter makes a healthy, satisfying snack. Also consider trying this snack: 10 to 12 baby carrots dipped into one to two tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter.

Related: Healthy Stronger Snacks Under 200 Calories

15. Make Dairy-Free Banana “Ice Cream” for Dessert
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15 MAKE DAIRY-FREE BANANA “ICE CREAM” FOR DESSERT

Slice up some brown bananas and put them in a bowl in your freezer covered with plastic wrap. When they are frozen (after about 12 hours), toss them into your blender or food processor and blend until creamy. If the mixture is not getting creamy after a few minutes of mixing, you can add in a tablespoon of almond milk. When you are done, you will have delicious ice cream, and you will not believe it is just made from bananas. If you eat one serving, it is only 105 calories and less than a half of a gram of fat. A half-cup of real ice cream contains 145 calories and eight grams of fat.

Related: 8 Delicious No-Bake Desserts (Including Gluten-Free and Vegan-Friendly Options Too!)

16. Strawberry Substitute
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16 STRAWBERRY SUBSTITUTE

Eat half of a cup of strawberries instead of a half of a cup of strawberry ice cream for dessert. You’ll save yourself 118 calories and seven grams of fat.

Related: 8 Delicious No-Bake Desserts (Including Gluten-Free and Vegan-Friendly Options Too!)

17. Check the Online Menu
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17 CHECK THE ONLINE MENU

When you’re planning to eat out at a restaurant, check the menu online ahead of time and make sure there is something healthy for you to choose. When you decide on a sensible plate to order, commit to it and don’t let the server “convince” you to add on additional appetizers or desserts.

Related: LIVESTRONG's Free Calorie Tracking App

18. Add a Twist to Your H2O
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18 ADD A TWIST TO YOUR H2O

Add flavor to your water to help keep you drinking it all day long. Squeeze a lemon or lime into your water bottle, or try sliced cucumbers or even berries like some spas do.

Related: 12 Refreshing Spa Waters

19. Hunger Masquerading as Thirst
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19 HUNGER MASQUERADING AS THIRST

If you are feeling hungry between meals, try having a glass of water. The hunger could be thirst in disguise.

Related: 12 Refreshing Spa Waters

20. Go Nuts
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20 GO NUTS

Keep a small container of raw almonds in your car, on your desk or in your bag. Eat 10 to 12 for a snack to curb cravings and they’ll keep you full until your next meal.

Related: 9 of the Healthiest Nuts (that May Help You Live Longer)

21. Smaller Plates = Smaller Waistline
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21 SMALLER PLATES = SMALLER WAISTLINE

Eat lunch and dinner on smaller appetizer plates. Seeing a fuller plate can trick your brain into thinking that you are eating more, making you feel full faster.

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

22. Abs Are Made in the Kitchen
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22 ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN

Have you ever heard this phrase? When it comes to seeing ab definition, it’s true. Diet is crucial when it comes to the six-pack. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

Related: The 41 Toughest Ab Exercises

23. Don’t Drink Your Calories
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23 DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES

If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t drink your calories. Avoid juices, sugary sodas and alcoholic beverages. Instead, drink water and unsweetened tea (hot or iced).

24. What Do Labels and Fables Have in Common?
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24 WHAT DO LABELS AND FABLES HAVE IN COMMON?

Just because a box, bag or bottle says “organic,” “gluten-free,” “whole grain” or “natural” doesn’t mean that its contents are healthy. Read the nutritional label carefully and pay special attention to the ingredients before you buy.

Related: 12 Refreshing Spa Waters

25. Avoid Emotional Eating -- Get Up and Take a Walk
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25 AVOID EMOTIONAL EATING -- GET UP AND TAKE A WALK

Boredom, anger or stress can all drive people to eat too much or eat less-healthy foods. If you’re feeling any of these emotions, stop and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry, or am I looking for an emotional fix?” A short walk outside might help.

Related: Check out LIVESTRONG's Free Calorie Tracker App

26. Bowl Is Better Than Box
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26 BOWL IS BETTER THAN BOX

Never eat straight out of the bag or box: It will practically guarantee mindless overeating. Instead, measure out a serving size of whatever you’re snacking on -- almonds, peanut butter, popcorn or other snacks -- and put it into a bowl.

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

27. Stick to the Perimeter in the Grocery Store
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27 STICK TO THE PERIMETER IN THE GROCERY STORE

When you’re grocery shopping, remember that the outer edges of the store contain 90 percent of the healthy whole foods (i.e., fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy meats and proteins and protein-packed eggs and dairy).

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

28. Avoid Alcohol
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28 AVOID ALCOHOL

Alcoholic beverages contain a lot of calories, and getting a little buzzed might weaken your resolve to eat healthy. If you are trying to lose weight, eliminate alcohol from your diet or limit your intake to two drinks per week. If you do decide to keep alcohol in your diet, be sure to drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. This will slow down your pace of drinking and keep you hydrated.

Related: 13 Worst Alcoholic Drinks Sure to Derail Your Diet

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Have you tried any of these tips? How did they work for you? What are YOUR eating secrets? Do you have any weight-loss tips to share or any advice for someone trying to lose weight? Perhaps a healthy recipe or food prep tip? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Related: 11 Food-Safety Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

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