Contributed by Jason Knapfel, the Senior Producer for DietsInReview.com, which provides the tools and information needed to shape a healthier you.
One of the very basic concepts that we all have to deal with when trying to lose weight is cutting calories. There's no way around it.
While some of these tips may be common sense, we all need a little reminder now and again about the things that got us in this mess in the first place.
1. Stop drinking your calories.
This is one of the easier ones to follow. Water should be at the center of your daily liquid intake. Try to get as much plain water as you can, but you can also spruce it up with a squeeze of lemon or lime and even have a little bubbly water (seltzer) as well. But make sure you get the kind with no sodium.
While milk and juice aren't inherently unhealthy, those calories add up. If you are a coffee drinker, ditch the sugar and half and half. If you must drink milk, go for skim. Even low fat milk (1%) is better, but you'll be surprised how quickly your palate will adjust to skim.
2. Eat more often.
Yes, you heard that right. Oftentimes we wait too long to eat our next meal or healthy snack. If you go too long in between meals, you may be overindulging, not to mention your metabolism is at its best with consistent eating (every few hours).
3. Switch to leaner meats.
Think turkey, chicken and fish, rather than red meat. Beans, legumes, nuts and seeds also work as a nice meat substitute.
4. Add in produce.
Every time you eat a meal, make sure it includes a fruit or vegetable. This will add volume and bulk without all the calories.
5. Use lower calorie condiments.
Develop a taste for "sour" foods. Skip the sugary ketchup and fatty mayo and use mustard on sandwiches. Also, try swapping out your high-cal salad dressing and rely instead on vinegar with a splash of olive oil on your salads. Whichever route you go, be sure to order all dressings on the side when you dine out.
Downsizing is not just for corporations in these recessionary times. Maybe one small mint chocolate will quench your sweet tooth. Have a mini-bagel with light cream cheese instead of the full-size versions. Split an entree with a friend or spouse -- it'll save calories and money!
7. Stop using extra sugar.
I've always found that sugar is pretty much like a drug. It may be a hard habit to break but once you get off sugar your body adjusts and you'll rarely, if ever, crave it again.
8. Leave a few bites on your plate.
At lunch and dinner, leave a little food on your plate. I come from the "clean plate club," meaning I have a hard time justifying food left on my plate. I don't know if it was my upbringing or what, but just a little control can save all of us a lot of calories in the long run. This is especially true when dining out; most restaurants serve oversized portions.
9. Stay hydrated.
Drink water on a regular basis throughout your day; it's a proven way to squash cravings until your next meal.
10. Get fresh.
Fresh doesn't just sound tastier; it also means you will eat fewer processed foods that are empty nutritionally.
11. Eat breakfast.
Studies show that eating your morning meal means you will eat less the rest of the day.
12. Bake lighter.
When baking, cut the called-for sugar by 1/2 and fat by 1/3. You'll still get good results.
13. Turn up the volume.
Start your meal with a broth-based soup or a large salad. This will fill you up without adding calories.
14. Sleep more.
Adequate sleep (7-8 hours for most of us) has been linked to overall health. Besides, if you are up at all hours of the night there's a better chance you will fall victim to unnecessary snacking.
15. Eat at home.
While getting out once in a while is great stress relief, those are usually monster calories you will be consuming at your favorite restaurant. Maybe consider more special-occasion cooked meals at home with that special someone.