21. Eat cereal for breakfast five days a week. Studies find that people who eat cereal for breakfast every day are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t. They also consume more fiber and calcium—and less fat—than those who eat other breakfast foods. Of course, that doesn’t mean reaching for the Cap’n Crunch. Instead, pour out a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal like Total or Grape Nuts.
22. Pare your portions. Whether you eat at home or in a restaurant, immediately remove one-third of the food on your plate. Arguably the worst food trend of the past few decades has been the explosion in portion sizes on America’s dinner plates (and breakfast and lunch plates). We eat far, far more today than our bodies need. Studies find that if you serve people more food, they’ll eat more food, regardless of their hunger level. The converse is also true: Serve
yourself less and you’ll eat less.
23. Eat 90 percent of your meals at home. You’re more likely to eat more—and eat more high-fat, high-calorie foods—when you eat out than when you eat at home. Restaurants today serve such large portions that many have switched to larger plates and tables to accommodate them!
24. Avoid any prepared food that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label. You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same type of food. If you can’t, grab a piece of fruit instead! Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
25. Eat slowly and calmly. Put your fork or spoon down between every bite. Sip water frequently. Intersperse your eating with stories for your dining partner of the amusing things that happened during your day. Your brain lags your stomach by about 20 minutes when it comes to satiety (fullness) signals. If you eat slowly enough, your brain will catch up to tell you that you are no longer in need of food.
26. Eat only when you hear your stomach growling. It’s stunning how often we eat out of boredom, nervousness, habit, or frustration—so often, in fact, that many of us have actually forgotten what physical hunger feels like. Next time, wait until your stomach is growling before you reach for food. If you’re hankering for a specific food, it’s probably a craving, not hunger. If you’d eat anything you could get your hands on, chances are you’re truly hungry.
27. Find ways other than eating to express love, tame stress, and relieve boredom. For instance, you might make your family a photo album of special events instead of a rich dessert, sign up for a stress-management course at the local hospital or take up an active hobby, like bowling.
28. State the positive. You’ve heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Well, if you keep focusing on things you can’t do, like resisting junk food or getting out the door for a daily walk, chances are you won’t do them. Instead (whether you believe it or not) repeat positive thoughts to yourself. “I can lose weight.” “I will get out for my walk today.” “I know I can resist the pastry cart after dinner.” Repeat these phrases like a mantra all day long. Before too long, they will become their own self-fulfilling prophecy.
29. Discover your dietary point of preference. If you work hard to control your weight, you may get pleasure from your appearance, but you may also feel sorry for yourself each time you forgo a favorite food. There is a balance to be struck between the immediate gratification of indulgent foods and the long-term pleasure of maintaining a desirable weight and good health. When you have that balance worked out, you have identified your own personal dietary pleasure “point of preference.” This is where you want to stay.
30. Use flavorings such as hot sauce, salsa, and Cajun seasonings instead of relying on butter and creamy or sugary sauces. Besides providing lots of flavor with no fat and few calories, many of these seasonings—the spicy ones—turn up your digestive fires, causing your body to temporarily burn more calories.
NEXT: 10 more easy ways to lose weight