. Set a realistic weight-loss goals. One-half a pound to 2 pounds a week is about right.
2. Keep track of what you consume. Dieters who keep track of everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don’t, research shows.
3. Motivate yourself. Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet to keep yourself inspired.
4. Enlist the help of family and friends. Dieters who have support from a partner at home lose more weight than those who don’t, studies show.
5. Move it to lose it. Research shows that people who do physical activities such as walking or biking for two to four hours a week during weight-loss efforts lose extra pounds.
6. Pay attention to portions. A 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards; 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine, a standard postage stamp; a cup of cold cereal, berries or popcorn, a baseball; 4-inch pancake or waffle, the diameter of a CD.
7. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of the foods that sabotage your weight loss.
8. Create “a dinner deck.” This would include 10 favorite quick and healthful dinners written on index cards. Each card should list the ingredients for the recipe on one side and directions for making it on the other.
9. Avoid hunger. Eat regular meals and snacks. Make sure you have some protein foods such as yogurt, tuna, beans or chicken for most meals. Research suggests that protein helps you feel full longer.
10. Keep produce on hand. Place a bowl of vegetables such as broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers or carrot sticks in the refrigerator. You can eat them as a snack or when preparing meals to take the edge off your hunger.
11. Stock up on “impulse fruits.” Keep things like grapes, clementines, small apples, small bananas and pears around the house. These foods are easy to eat without having to do much cutting and slicing.
12. Make some stealth changes. This will get everyone in the family eating healthier. Buy low-fat 1% or skim milk, low-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat cheese instead of the full-fat versions. Use them in recipes to cut the fat and calories.
13. Cut out liquid calories. Eliminate soda and sugary drinks such as sweetened iced tea, sports drinks and alcoholic beverages. Liven up the taste of water by adding lemon, lime, cucumber or mint. Choose fat-free and 1% low-fat milk.
14. Practice the “Rule of One.” When it comes to high-calorie foods, you won’t go wrong if you allow one small treat a day. That might be one cookie or a fun-size candy bar.
15. Pace, don’t race. Force yourself to eat more slowly, and savor each bite.
16. Hydrate before meals. Drinking 16 ounces, or two glasses, of water before meals may help you eat less.
17. Downsize plates, bowls, glasses, silverware. Using smaller versions of your serving ware will help you eat less food.
18. “After 8 is too late.” Adopt the motto for snacks after dinner.
19. Buy a pedometer and get moving. Health experts recommend taking at least 10,000 steps a day, which is roughly 4 to 5 miles, depending on your stride length.
20. Treat yourself occasionally. If your chocolate craving is getting to you, try diet hot-chocolate packets. If you need a treat, go out for it, or buy small prepackaged portions of ice cream bars. If you love chocolate, consider keeping bite-size pieces in the freezer.