101 Smart Weight Loss Tips

'Tis the season for big dinners, yummy drinks...and expanding waistlines. Stay on task with this slew of savvy diet tricks.

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Hunger Games

Trick your mind into thinking there's more food in front of you by using a side or salad plate instead of an over-sized charger.
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Kitchen Door

At parties with circulating trays of treats, avoid standing near the kitchen door. The waiters will offer you first dibs on delicious hors d'oevures, which just might be too tempting to turn down.
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Meal Maven

The best defense against mid-week takeout? Cook and store five dinner-time meals on Sunday night that you can reheat as needed during the work week.
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Watt's Up?

The recommended portion size for a single-serving of ice cream is technically one half-cup, roughly the size of one light bulb.
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Work Week

An easy way to stay on track with food, and still occasionally indulge? Stick to your diet during the work week (when you can pre-pack lunches and make healthy dinners in advance), and then cut loose a little bit on Saturday or Sunday. Keep your noshing in moderation, but treat yourself to one of your favorite meals as a reward for being so good the rest of the week.
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Think Small

As a general rule of thumb, breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day (since you have the most time to burn it off), and dinner should be your smallest.
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Pill Popper

Take your vitamins. Not only will it keep your metabolism at an optimum level, but it will also ensure that you're getting all the necessary nutrients as you diet.
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Pizza Face

Give your pizza a makeover. Regular varieties are full of refined sugars (thick crusts) and saturated fat (oily sauces and gooey cheese). So, instead, opt for thin-crust pies and sparse amounts of traditional toppings. Add nutritional value—and flavor—by piling on dressed salad greens and fresh veggies.

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Bubble Yum

Chew sugarless gum as a quick fix for times when you're craving a sweet treat. Bonus? You'll erase all signs of coffee breath, too!
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Eat More Veggies

Love the idea of going vegetarian but lack the resolve? Pick one night a week and cook a vegetarian meal. Meatless Mondays, here we come!
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Order an App

Portion sizes at restaurants are double, sometimes triple, the recommended amount. Next time you go out, order an appetizer as your meal and add a side of veggies if you're still hungry.
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Diva Diners

With obesity on the rise, more and more dining establishments are willing to accommodate healthier meal substitutions and requests, even if they're not listed on the menu. Politely ask your waitress or waiter if it's possible to tweak your order to be more waist-friendly. Just remember to tip her handsomely!
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Tapas Trick

Middle Eastern foods contain many good-for-you ingredients, but that doesn't mean you can eat with abandon. Two tablespoons of hummus (the recommended serving size) is equivalent to the size of a golf ball. Think about that next time you reach for more pita.
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Basta, Pasta!

Good-for-you nutrients and fiber are largely removed from white pasta to make it denser and sweeter. This ultimately makes you hungry, soon after eating. So, leave spaghetti night to the kids and fill up on salad.

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Food Star

Love baking but hate feeling tempted by sweet, buttery goods? Use a cookbook for diabetics to find out how to recreate cookie and cake recipes sans sugar and extra carbs.

Set a Timer

It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register if you're full. Set a timer next time you want more food after eating to see if you're still hungry.
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Pre-Pack Snacks

The key to dieting is moderation—even when it comes to healthy foods. Pre-pack fruit and veggie snacks to get instant portion control and have a stockpile of treats to take with you on the go.
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Get Seedy

Yes, they get stuck in your teeth, but adding certain seeds, like chia and brown flax, to your diet is an easy way to infuse more soluble fiber and minerals into your grub. They can also help speed up metabolism and reduce blood pressure. Win, win! (Just start carrying toothpicks.)

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Farmer's Market

Buying local isn't just good for your community, it's good for your pant size, too! In-season produce has richer flavors, which will satisfy your appetite more than frozen or imported varieties.
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Aromatherapy

Trick your senses into submission by lighting a sweet-smelling candle next time you crave a decadent dessert.
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Rice Market

When shopping for rice, look for brown rice that says it's "unrefined." This means that the fiber and nutrients are still in tact, which will leave you feeling fuller, longer when you finally make that Indian dish you've meaning to try.

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Making Bread

Always, always, always choose brown, whole-wheat or grain bread over white slices. The process to make white loaves strips away all the good nutrients. Also, check to make sure your brown bread is made with whole wheat, grains, or oats.
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The Morning After

After a night of eating, drinking, and being too merry, get back on the good-diet wagon by having a healthy breakfast. Everyone breaks diet streaks. The hard part is staying committed after the fact.
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In the Ball Park

The recommended serving size for a bowl of pasta or cereal is one cup, or the size of a baseball.

Get Global

Get creative with your edamame. Not only are these high-protein pods packed with good fiber, but you can cook them in a number of ways (broiled with fresh garlic, for example) to create tasty heart-healthy snacks.
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Storage Wars

Out of sight, out of mind. Store your favorite snacks up high (or down low, depending on height) in your kitchen to make it harder for you to reach for them on the fly.
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Treat Yourself

It's okay to splurge from time to time, but try to incorprate the principles of your diet as much as possible when you do. If you're craving a BLT, order a side salad, so you'll be encouraged to eat the leafy greens before the greasy grub.
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Dairy Queen

Cutting back on dairy (especially fatty cheeses) is a great dieting strategy. But don't eliminate calcium-rich foods entirely. Not only are they good for bone health, but they also help the nervous system and serve as a low-fat form of protein. Enjoy a glass of skim milk daily and chow down on green, leafy vegetables as much as possible.
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Focus on Food

The more aware you are of your food, the more control you'll be able to exert as you eat it. Whether you're at the breakfast table or grabbing dinner, take a moment to enjoy your meal instead of using it as another opportunity to multi-task.
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Soup Kitchen

A tried-and-true take on eating better? Eat more soup. Packed with veggies, lean chicken, and low-calorie broths, soups aren't just nutritious, they're super easy to prepare, too.
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Dealing an Ace

Three ounces of meat is about the same size as a deck of cards or the palm of the average woman's hand. Use this as your guideline when dining out.
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Be a Homebody

Need inspiration not to get take-out again? Studies show that restaurant-prepared dishes contain as many as 60% more calories than ones whipped up at home.

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Bail on Booze

When you're trying to lose weight, the most efficient lifestyle change you can make is to limit your alcohol intake. Enjoy a glass or two on the weekend, but other than that, abstain from wine, beer, and liquor during the week to shed pounds faster.
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Go Splitsies

Take date night to the next level of romance and split dishes, instead of ordering solo. You'll eat less food, and enjoy your company all the more.
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Slow Motion

If you're a speed-eater, think twice. A study from the University of Rhode Island showed that women who ate their lunch over the course of 30 minutes consumed fewer calories than those who ate theirs in under ten.

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Don't Dish It Out

When you have friends over (and especially when you don't), avoid filling candy dishes with sweet treats and salty snacks. This will only encourage you and your guests to graze on empty calories. If you really want to have extra goodies out, opt for vegetables, fruit, or whole-grain crackers.
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Fad Fails

Fad diets get short-term attention for a reason. Most meal plans that have you drastically reducing, or increasing, your intake of a certain food group or nutrient will only stress out organs and slow metabolism in the long-run. You're better off creating a well-balanced food and exercise regimen to slim down.
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Get Oat of Here

Eat oatmeal for breakfast. Because it's a complex carbohydrate, it will break down slowly in your system, making you feel fuller, longer. Amp yours up, sans brown sugar, by adding a scoop of peanut butter or ginger preserves.

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Syrupy Suds

Skip the soda. Seriously. A study from Harvard found that women who increased their intake from one sugar-sweetened soft drink a week, to one a day, gained an average of 10 pounds.

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Team Up

Enlisting your partner in your weight loss plan can double your motivation—and the pay-off. Turn regular chores, like hitting up Costco, into activities that help reinforce your diet and your support of one another.
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Hearty Snacks

Skip the carb-heavy, processed energy bars, and take your cues from kids when you're having an energy rut. Whip up a hearty, healthy snack reminiscent of mom-approved after-school noshing. One of our faves? Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana.
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Top Chef

Make your pasta al dente. The longer you boil noodles, the more the starch breaks down and raises the pasta's glycemic index (causing your blood sugar to spike faster).

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Make the Effort

Finding time to cook a healthy dinner is half the battle during the week, but not if you view it like another meeting. Set aside five minutes in the morning to game plan your meals for the day. This way, you can enlist the help of roommates or spouses to pick up groceries or warm ovens.
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Drink Up

Famous for its antioxidants and ability to speed up metabolisms, green tea is also ideal for tricking stomachs into thinking they're full. Have a cup before every meal to cut down on extra calories.
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Long Drink

When imbibing the rare cup of juice or cocktail, opt for a taller, thinner glass instead of a short, squat one. The length of the cup will fool your mind into thinking you're consuming more liquid than you actually are.
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Side Lines

At restaurants, always ask for your sauces on the side. This will reduce your caloric in-take, and keep your leftovers sog-free for next-day eating.
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Shake It Up

Don't be afraid of meal substitute shakes. Once a dieting joke of the past, many new varieties boast balanced nutritional gains and take the guesswork out of meal preparation.
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Love the List

To avoid high-calorie impulse buys, always write out your shopping list for the grocery store and stick to it vigilantly. So long, PMS potato chips.
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Weigh Yourself

During meal-centric times, like the holidays or summer BBQ season, weigh yourself daily to stay mindful about extra pounds. While it's normal to flucate a few pounds, having your goal weight in mind will encourage you to scale back on unhealthy food.
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Single Stash

Make food preparation a breeze and chop up veggies to have on-hand for last-minute dishes—or snacks.
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In Living Color

Play mind games on yourself, and add colorful accents to your salad to make it look more appetizing. Red onions, radishes, and beets are all inexpensive, colorful buys to dress up boring greens.
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Power Up

For an energy boost, skip pretzels, candies, and other carb-y snacks. They get broken down quickly like other processed foods and cause a sugar crash. Instead, opt for grub high in fiber and protein, like hard-boiled eggs or yogurt.
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Going for Seconds

There's no shame in going back for seconds if you're truly hungry. During big meals, limit yourself to vegetables on any return trips to avoid filling up on carbohydrate-filled stuffing or heavy meats.
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Seamless Choices

The convenience (and anonymity) of being able to order food online can make people feel less accountable for their diet choices. Next time you use SeamlessWeb or GrubHub, give yourself five minutes to think about your order and consider a healthier meal before confirming your purchase.
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Fork in the Road

It takes about 20 seconds for your mind to register that it might be full. So, rest your fork on your plate in between each bite to give this impulse a chance to kick in. Bonus points: You'll be a better conversationalist if you're not gulping down grub.

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Sweet Tricks

Baked goods are filled with white flour and white sugar, two simple carbohydrates that are burned as soon as they are eaten, resulting in a large insulin spike, followed by a sugar crash. So, eat sugary goods sparingly and for good reason (like your birthday!).

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Bubbly Bunch

For holiday fêtes (in the winter and summer), one sure fire way to cut down on calories is to dilute your wine. Opt for a white wine spritzer to maintain your figure, and your composure.
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Lock It Up

Can't control yourself (or your appetite) when you're stressed out, hormonal, or sad? Recognize your triggers, and take preemptive steps by literally keeping your indulgent foods under lock and key until your will power is restored. It might sound drastic, but, at the very least, tracking down the key will give you time to think twice about your diet-breaking impulse.
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Cereal Killers

You might still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, but you've gotta ditch the high-sugar cereal snacks. Consuming them first thing in the day (or at any time) will just lead to an epic energy crash later. Instead enjoy a bowl of whole grain or high-protein cereal. Fitting into your jeans is a much better treat than anything you'll find at the bottom of a box.
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Pop and Lock

Many dieters chow down on popcorn because it fills you up without loading on the calories, but remember that all microwaveable bags are not created equal. A lot of seemingly low-fat kettle corn formulas can contain extra sugar and savory blends are often high in salt and fat.
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Dried Out

While nothing hits the spot quite like a piece of confectionery bliss, satisfy your next sugar craving by munching on a dried apricot. The chewy texture and slightly-acidic taste will squash any demand for candy.

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Brush On, Brush Off

Brush sauces and oils onto meats and veggies instead of drowning them in oily marinades. Use fresh herbs as garnishes to add extra flavor
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Grab a Pitcher

Keep a carafe full of iced water with lemon slices in your refrigerator as a go-to beverage for when you're craving a snack. Studies have shown that people easily confuse the signals of hunger and thirst, so starting with a hydrating treat might stave off any snack splurges later.
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BBQ Power

When you have the option, always go for a burger over a hot dog. The latter is packed with nitrates, dyes, preservatives, and sodium, making it sabotage for your digestive system. Plus, a burger made with natural, low-fat meat will keep you feeling full much longer. To cut calories, only use half of the bun.

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Tasty Toppings

Sweet-tasting yogurt flavors (like chocolate mousse or key lime pie) might contain a lot of calcium, but they'll also be packed with high fructose corn syrup. Instead of spending extra time checking labels at the grocery store, stock up on plain, natural Greek yogurt and add fruit, nuts, and honey (in moderation!) as good-for-you toppings.

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Water Works

If you really want to slim down, swap out sodas and juices for water. Need more motivation? Researchers found that women who replaced sweet drinks with H20 lost five more pounds than those who didn't.

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Go Pink

When in doubt for dinner, do salmon dishes. The fish is rich in essential fatty acids and helps keep blood-sugar levels steady.

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Egg-cellent

Toss your bagel in favor of two eggs. Even though the two foods roughly contain the same number of calories, a study from Louisiana State University showed that people who opted for the protein-heavy breakfast meal lost an average of 65% more weight than the carb-ophile dieters.

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Eat Your Water

Drink you're water, too. But ingesting fruits with high moisture content, like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, is an easy way to hydrate and feel fuller at the same time.

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Veg Out

Upgrade your effort to eat more veggies by cooking three produce-based sides instead of one. Having the surplus of good-for-you items will encourage you to make better choices as you fill your plate.
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Play Chicken

Chicken is a staple of healthy diets because it's lean and full of protein. Facilitate your use of the poultry by pre-cooking (or grilling) a few boneless, skinless breasts every week and keeping them in the fridge. Then, you can bust them out, come dinner-time, to make stir-fries, fajitas, and even serve whole with colorful garnishes.

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Super Foods

One definite outcome of bio-engineered super-sized fruits and veggies? The FDA has had to revisit their nutritional stats on produce. Before you bite into a gigantic apple or peach, cut it in half and save some for later.

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Have a Tea Party

Being hooked on sugary drinks is nothing to be ashamed about. Indulging in them regularly, however, is. Satisfy your sweet (caffeinated) tooth by using tiny cups (think, tea-party-sized) to sample higher-calorie warm and cold drinks, alike.

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Tipping Scales

Want to add an extra level of precision to your food prep? Use a food scale to weigh out ingredients before making calorie-specific dishes.
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Super Ideas

Superfoods, aka foods that are high in antioxdiants like berries and green tea, offer double-duty diet help. They're not only filling, but promote anti-aging benefits, too!
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It's Parfait!

Incorporating protein-rich foods into your meals (in moderation) is a proven way to speed up weight-loss. Still fell like you can't give up your daily dose of granola? Layer it with a fat-free Greek yogurt and berries as a breakfast treat—or healthy dessert!

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Goof Around

While smiley faces might seem a bit too juvenile, there's a reason you like to play with your food. Attractive presentation can trick the mind into thinking there's more food on your plate than there actually is. Get creative with your low-calorie dishes to make the most out of your next meal.
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Bowled Over

Escape the torture of staring at a dangerously delicious bread bowl by asking your waitress to bring out a plate of olives, instead. If your dinner companions insist on the high-carb addition, discreetly pour a little bit of water onto your bread plate to soggily sabotage any pieces you might place there.
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Equal Signs

Not all calories are created equal. While a piece of chocolate might appear more waist-friendly than a bowl of strawberries based on calorie counts, the added fiber of the fruity dish will amp up energy and satisfy your hunger much longer than the foods with higher glycemic indexes.
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Start Fresh

Skip the breakfast sandwich. While protein is a morning-must, grease and starchy bagels are not. Opt for a breakfast wrap or English muffin if you love food on-the-go.
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Free Your Fries

Bad News: Fries are designed to destroy your diet. No joke. The simple carbohydrates are salted and then (usually) dipped in high fructose corn syrup—aka ketchup—triggering your body to crave another fix. Your best bet? Skip the frites altogether and opt for a leafy, crunchy side salad instead.

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Ration Fashion

Don't deprive yourself of your favorite foods (it will only make you crave them more). Instead, have a fraction of the quantity you'd normally consume. A sliver of pie is roughly one-third the calories of a regularly-sized piece. One arm of a soft pretzel packs one-quarter the carbohydrates of the twisted treat.
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Small Plates

Why fret over the bill and your diet when you go out to group dinners? Opt for tapas restaurants, where you can split the check evenly, and the food to your liking.
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Peeling Away

Some fruits, like avocado, have the highest concentration of cancer-fighting nutrients in the darker area right under the skin. To get the most out of your calories, pull away peels (when possible) instead of cutting them to load up on nutrients and antioxidants.
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Couch Potato

When you're curling up to chow down, portion out your snacks before you hit the sofa. Watching frothy, fun shows (Revenge, Real Housewives, The Good Wife!) will distract you from eating in moderation.
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Pack Your Lunch

Save time, energy, and money, by packing your lunch for work every day. Bonus move? Use the time you would have spent gabbing in the cafeteria to go on a 30-minute stroll.
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Don't DVR

Kill two birds with one stone, and resist the urge to grab snacks during commercial breaks by doing a few impromptu sets of exercises, instead.

Check out some home-ready workouts, here.

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Booty Bounty

At buffets and family-style restaurants, hold back from hoarding food. The natural instinct is to gather as much food as possible, but the reality is that your eyes, not your appetite, are doing the decision making.
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Doggie Bags

It might seem a little bit grandmotherly, but if you eat out a lot for work, bring along a reusable plastic container, so you can automatically store half of your meal for later. A more (socially-aware) approach? Tell the waiter that you'll have to leave early and ask for a to-go container when you order your meal.
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Go Green

Leafy green veggies are full of fiber and nutrients. Incorporate more into your diet by serving all meats over a bed of greens and convert your favorite sandwich fillings (tuna, anyone?) into a yummy salad.
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Read Labels

You wouldn't buy an anti-aging cream without reading the ingredients—and that's just going on your face. Take a moment to reacquaint yourself with nutritional info of your favorite staples. Chances are you haven't looked since food labels were reintroduced in 1995.
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Fight Food Fatigue

Take the offensive when it comes to snacking and keep a selection of veggies and yummy (low-fat!) dips on hand to break out when you feel the need to nosh. Bonus points to those who up the presentation with a hallowed-out cabbage.

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BYO Dessert

Eliminate the guesswork from pot luck parties, and bring a healthy dessert in addition to your assigned dish.
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Spice Girls

The easiest way to add flavor to less-than-tasty diet fare is to dress it up with spices. Visit your local exotic food shop to get tips from the pros.
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Don't Let Him Serve You

You love your man, but keeping up with his eating habits will only have you reaching for pants with elastic waistbands. So, relieve him of his food-serving responsibilities and dish out a smaller portion for your plate.
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Get Some Bubbly

If you're craving soda, substitute a glass of seltzer water, garnished with a slice of lime or lemon for a cup of cola. The carbonation will fill you up, and if you invest in an at-home soda-maker, like Sodastream, you'll save money, too!
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'Wich Craft

Skip the mayo or sun-dried tomato spread the next time you're making a sandwich, and use a couple of slices of ripe avocado instead. The fruit is packed with good-for-you fats and vitamins, which will leave you feeling fuller than if you slathered on a much less healthy condiment.

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Inspiration Board

Let your desire for clothes do the talking. Cut out images of your favorite outfits from next season and stick them on the fridge to inspire you to stay on track with your weight loss goals.
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Give a Little

It's okay to slip up when you're trying to drop pounds. Either brush your teeth immediately to cleanse your palette and return to your better-eating habits, or start the next day with a healthy breakfast.

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Blog It Out

Take your diet to the information age and start a blog to chronicle your journey to healthy living. You'll have more motivation to stick to your plan, plus you'll create a community of support.
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Work for It

One way to validate a diet splurge? Work for it. Create fitness goals attached to diet incentives to keep you focused on your exercise and food-related efforts.