7 Small Changes with Big Results

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.

Watch: What to eat for dinner to lose weight

These small and easy changes will help you eat healthier.

When it comes to weight loss, it’s the little things that can really add up to make a big difference. Think "diet" and you might assume it requires a radical revamp of your life or misery-inducing restrictions. But when it comes to lasting weight loss, research shows you’re better off making small, consistent changes rather than aiming for a major diet or lifestyle overhaul. The key is that the changes are practical and sustainable so that you can permanently adopt them into your everyday life. In one study, people who made tiny adjustments to their eating habits were able to stick to their new routines—and had more success slimming down compared to those who didn’t incorporate the tips. To help shed pounds, without making any huge changes, follow these 7 easy habits for weight-loss success.

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

1. Eat Breakfast Every Day

Research shows dieters are more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—when they eat breakfast. If you don’t already eat breakfast, start. If you are already a breakfast eater, try eating the same breakfast multiple days each week. Repeating the same meals can help you shed pounds, according to research. One of my morning favorites: a whole-wheat English muffin topped with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ sliced banana. This meal delivers a modest 278 calories, along with filling fiber and protein. It’s also portable and ready in less than 5 minutes, so forget about using any "I don’t have time for breakfast" excuses.

 

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

Pictured Recipe: Parmesan Spinach Cakes

2. Downsize Your Dish

Studies show that we eat less when we use smaller dinnerware. The theory is that our eyes get tricked into thinking we are eating more because our plate is full, making the food portions look bigger. The result: we are satisfied with less food. Try eating your meals on salad plates instead of larger dinner plates.

 

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

3. Trade Up Your Fork

It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows using a bigger fork and subsequently taking bigger bites can actually lead to eating less (apparently seeing yourself making a larger dent in the food on your plate can cue you to stop eating sooner). You’ll increase the benefit by holding the fork with your nondominant hand to slow you down. Eating slower helps you consume fewer calories without you even realizing it.

 

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

4. Drink Lots of Water

You’ve probably heard it before but this is one diet-friendly adage that’s tried and true, so start hydrating. Drinking 2 cups of water before eating a meal can help you lose weight. The water helps you feel full sooner, so you eat less and in turn weigh less.

 

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

5. Display Produce Proudly

You know the phrase "out of sight, out of mind"? Not what you want when it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables. Produce delivers lots of nutrients but not a lot of calories. Plus, it’s packed with fiber, which helps fill you up. Don’t shove your beautiful apples to the back of the produce drawer, or bury your carrots under your other groceries. Instead, bring the fruits and vegetables front and center in your refrigerator and out in your kitchen. Try keeping fruit like bananas and oranges on the counter in a fruit bowl where they’ll be in plain sight. You’ll also be more likely to reach for diet-friendly fruits and veggies if they’re ready for easy snacking. In fact, when Google moved their fruit bowl to the front of the cafeteria, employees’ fruit consumption increased by two thirds in just one month. Wash and slice celery, peppers and other delicious produce, and then pack them in baggies so you can easily grab them for a quick—and healthy—treat.

 

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

Pictured Recipe: Breakfast Parfait

6. Snack on Yogurt

Yogurt was recently identified as a top weight-loss-promoting food by Harvard University. It’s high in protein, which, gram for gram, helps fill you up more than carbs. Stick to plain, low-fat or nonfat yogurt for a healthy snack, without extra sugar or saturated fat. Another diet bonus? The probiotics in yogurt may help you burn fat. In one study, researchers gave overweight, but otherwise healthy, adults about 1/2 cup of yogurt at dinner every night for six weeks. Some ate yogurt supplemented with an added dose of probiotics (either Lactobacillus fermentum or L. amylovorus), while others got regular yogurt (which has a lower probiotic content ). Though none of the subjects lost weight, those consuming the probiotic-enriched yogurt lost 3 to 4 percent of their body fat, compared to just 1 percent body fat lost in the other group. To ensure your yogurt delivers a decent amount of probiotics, look for one that carries the "Live & Active Cultures" seal.

 

What to Eat for Dinner to Lose Weight

Pictured Recipe: Cashew & 3-Seed Chocolate Bark

7. Enjoy a Small Treat

Don’t banish all your favorite foods. Doing so may lead to failure. A drastically limited diet is not sustainable, and feeling deprived may eventually cause you to overeat. Savoring a small treat daily really won’t sabotage your weight-loss efforts, according to research. Keep the treats small—aim for about 150 calories or less. Try savoring two squares of dark chocolate, a ½ cup of ice cream or one 5-oz. glass of wine. This is one habit most of us can stick with for the long haul.

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