People often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like noshing, reach for water first. (You may mistake these other things for hunger, too
.) Drinking also helps you feel full. Some experts suggest sipping water (or iced tea) just before you sit down to a meal. Continue drinking as you eat to add volume and weight to your meal.
Set realistic goals
One or two pounds a week maximum is doable. Top weight-loss programs advocate stopping after the first 10 pounds and maintaining that loss for about six months before trying to lose any more. (Here's what it really takes to lose one pound
Build in splurges
If you allow yourself to eat whatever you want for 2 meals out of every 21, you won't inflict enough damage to subvert your weight loss. And you'll feel less deprived.
Count to 10
Studies suggest that the average craving lasts only about 10 minutes. (Here's what your cravings say about your health
.) So before caving in to your urge, set your mental timer for a 10-minute time-out. Use the time to tackle an item on your to-do list; choose one that will give you a sense of accomplishment—and get you out of the kitchen.
Eat more often
People who have kept their weight off for more than a few years tend to eat an average of five times a day. (This is exactly how many calories you should be eating every day
.) Light, frequent meals curb your appetite, boost your energy, improve your mood and even speed your metabolism, since the process of digestion itself burns calories.
Make weekly resolutions
Don't try to overhaul your diet overnight. If you make too many changes at once, chances are you'll get frustrated and throw in the towel. Instead, make one change, such as eating at least one piece of fruit daily, every week.
Start with 10%
People who start by focusing on achieving just 10% of their long-range weight-loss goal may have the best chance of ultimate success. Losing those first pounds yields the biggest health gains, too, since belly fat is usually the first to come off and is the most dangerous.
Spike your meals with salsa
This spicy condiment can stand in for mayo to deliver plenty of flavor without the fat. Mix it with a bit of low-fat yogurt to make tuna salad. Spread it on a veggie burger, or serve it with chicken or fish.
Take one-third off
When you eat dinner out, reduce the temptation to clean your plate by setting aside one-third of your meal. Ask the server for a doggie bag, and take it home for lunch the next day. Try serving yourself one-third less at home too. This simple tactic could subtract more than 500 calories a day.
Go easy on the alcohol
Remember that alcohol is a source of calories. A 12-ounce beer has 150 calories; a 3.5-ounce glass of wine, 85. A margarita packs a bigger caloric punch. Even worse offenders are creamy cocktails, such as brandy alexanders and mudslides—equivalent to drinking a rich dessert. The bottom line: If you're trying to lose weight, stick with water. (Follow these simple tricks to cut back on alcohol