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Eating healthy foods and exercising is the key to maintaining a healthy body weight. It doesn't require as much change as you would think.

CUT CALORIES: without going hungry

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All-time high obesity rates have led many people to seek ways to cut some fat and calories from their diets. Doing so doesn't have to be so difficult or intimidating.

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Obesity rates in the United States have reached a plateau. For the last five years the statistics indicate Americans are the heaviest they have ever been. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34 percent of adults are obese, more than double the percentage 30 years ago. The share of obese children tripled during that time, to 17 percent.

Eating healthy foods and exercising is the key to maintaining a healthy body weight. It doesn't require as much change as you would think.

Here are easy ways to eat better and save on fat and calories in the process:

  1. Eat lean protein at every meal
  2. Protein helps the body to feel full longer. It also requires more energy to break down during digestion. Good sources of protein include chicken, tuna, soybeans, and very lean meats. A portion size is about 3 ounces.

  3. Create your own snack packs
  4. Instead of purchasing perceived low-calorie snack packs, make your own.

    That's because those retail varieties tend to be sugary and not very filling; potentially causing you to eat more. Fill up baggies with a blend of nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips for a filling, tasty and relatively nutritious snack.

  5. Moderate sugary drinks
  6. Many people fail to realize a good portion of their caloric intake comes from beverages. Whether sports drinks or sodas, sugary beverages do little to satisfy and could cause you to eat more. A Johns Hopkins University study revealed that individuals lost more weight over 6 months by eliminating calories from beverages rather than solid foods.

  7. Start a meal with salad or broth
  8. Instead of diving right into the main course, begin your meal with a low-fat soup or salad. But pass on creamy soups or salads topped with heavy dressings. Eating this first course reduces the amount of food you will eat during the main course.

  9. Eat smaller portions
  10. Portion sizes have creeped up considerably over the years. Research indicates a 33 percent increase in portion sizes in the last 14 years. Super-sized meals at restaurants are not an accurate gauge of portion sizes. When in doubt, read the nutrition label on packages and use a scale at home for measuring foods.

  11. Serve from the stove
  12. Measure out portions on dinner plates and then place on the table. Having pots and pans of food on the table may cause you to eat more because its right in front of you. Keeping the food on the stove or the counter has it out of sight and out of mind.

  13. Fill up on produce.
  14. Add produce to everything you eat, including topping pizza with veggies, adding more vegetables to soups or scrambling eggs with veggies. This enables you to fill up on high-fiber, low-calorie foods rather than unhealthy options.

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