Do you ever wonder if that skinny woman on the subway was just “born that way”? It’s possible—after all, weight is influenced by a lot of factors, including genetics, lifestyle…even how much we fidget. But it’s also possible that she acts like a thin person. There's new research on skinny secrets—habits that can help you get slim and stay slim. (And we're not talking about eating micromeals or crazy exercising.) Here are 4 small actions you can start taking right now that can keep you trim. Download a FREE 5-Day 1,500-Calorie Meal Plan to Lose Weight!
—Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D., Former Associate Nutrition Editor
One of our favorite things about lunchtime is that it gives us a break from our desks. And stepping away from the computer during lunch has an added health bonus, according to recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: it may help you eat less. Participants in the study either ate lunch while playing solitaire on a computer or ate without any distractions (no computer). When quizzed on their feelings of fullness 30 minutes later, the undistracted eaters reported feeling fuller than the group that ate in front of a computer screen. Not only that, when they snacked later on, they ate less.
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Foods with a high water content—think soups, salads, cucumbers and watermelon—help you feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. (Interestingly, drinking water alongside foods doesn’t have the same effect.) Starting your meal with a broth-based soup or salad (not drenched in dressing) may help you eat less of your main course. A recent weight-loss trial showed that dieters who drank 2 cups of water before eating lost more weight than those who didn’t (look for more details in an upcoming story in EatingWell Magazine).
Picture this: someone in your office brings in doughnuts and places them where you can’t miss them. But before grabbing one as you pass by, you stop, close your eyes and imagine yourself eating the doughnut…slowly. Sure, your co-workers might think you’re a little weird, but there’s a good chance that doing this will keep you from eating as much as you would otherwise. A recent study in Science found that people presented M&Ms who first imagined eating 30 of them one at a time ate fewer of the candies than those who dove right in without the visualization exercise. Researchers think that the repeated imagining got subjects used to the food, which made them crave it less. Or it could just be that if you put that much thought into what you’re about to eat, you pretty much safeguard yourself against mindless eating.
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There’s no magic pill for weight loss, but taking a daily multivitamin may help you shed pounds, reported Emily Sohn in the July/August 2010 issue of EatingWell Magazine. In a study of more than 85 obese women in China, those who took a multivitamin (with 29 vitamins and minerals, much like a “one-a-day” you find on store shelves), while continuing to eat their normal diets, lost an average of about three and a half pounds over six months. Those who took a placebo lost nothing. The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, add to a growing field of research that links vitamins and minerals to weight loss. One plausible theory as to why multivitamins might help promote weight loss, suggests Angelo Tremblay, Ph.D., an obesity researcher at Laval University in Quebec City, is that when your body is low on vitamins and minerals, your appetite fires up—prompting you to eat more to replenish the nutrients you’re missing. By staying topped off with nutrients, on the other hand, it may be possible to keep a runaway appetite under control.