Plamen Petkov / Courtesy Of Self
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updated 9/28/2007 9:43:29 AM ET 2007-09-28T13:43:29

Good news for anyone who hates number crunching: You don’t need to add or subtract a thing to get slim. “Instead, focus on food quality, portion size and the timing of your meals,” says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, Ph.D., director at the Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. If you obsess over calories, you’re more likely to consume fat-free foods that are low in fiber, high in sugar and, ultimately, unsatisfying. The result? You never feel full, so you end up eating more. Instead…

Pile on produce. Have at least one fruit and veggie at every meal (or two fruits at breakfast, if that’s easier). They’re high in fiber, which helps delay hunger. Aim for nine servings daily; with a salad at lunch or dinner, you’ll easily hit your goal.

Eat bigger snacks. Add protein (a stick of lowfat string cheese, a cup of skim milk) to your usual nosh. Research suggests protein may enhance the effect of leptin, a hormone that reins in appetite. Protein is also filling and can help curb cravings for extra handfuls of fatty snacks. (See “Healthy Eating Made Simple,” for other nutritious foods to stock.)

Drink more water. It’s no shocker that a study at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society in Boston found that dieters who swapped sugary drinks for water shed pounds. But what is news is that dieters who gulped the most H2O lost the most weight.

Portion your plate. Use a salad dish (8 inches in diameter), and mentally divide it into quarters to help keep portions reasonable. Cover two quarters with veggies, one quarter with lean protein (3 to 6 ounces of fish, chicken or tofu) and one quarter with whole grains (½ to 1 cup brown rice or whole-wheat pasta).

Eat every meal. When you wait longer than five hours between bites, your body may release extra cortisol, a hormone that can increase appetite. Have more food and weigh less? That’s one equation you can count on.

Copyright © 2012 CondéNet. All rights reserved.

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