Diet Detective: 21 simple nutrition and fitness tips

1. Buy fruits and veggies at the “right” time: In-season produce will be the least expensive, will give you a good variety in your diet throughout the year, and, all in all, will be your best bargains in terms of cost per nutrient.
 
2. Eat all your meals:
Skipping meals during the day will slow your metabolism and result in overeating in the evening, both of which will lead to weight gain.
 
3. Eat only when you are hungry:
Learn to distinguish being hungry from feeling tired, bored, depressed, stressed, thirsty, etc. If you are not sure that you are actually hungry, involve yourself in another task or activity. If you are still hungry when you’ve finished that other activity, have a mini-meal.

4. Learn your “full” potential: Most people miss the physical cues signaling that they have eaten enough. Instead of waiting until you're bursting out of your clothes, try eating whatever you want, but stopping once you are full. How will you know you're full? Think about how hungry you really are before you eat. Also, try waiting 15 to 20 minutes after a meal before requesting seconds or dessert. By delaying, you may find that your appetite for a second helping has decreased.
 
5. Going to a party?:
Eat ahead of time. I know plenty of people who starve themselves before going to a party so they can have "room" for all the great food. Then they arrive at the party, stomachs rumbling, and make a beeline for the all those high-calorie, high-fat appetizers and finger foods, easily eating more than a day's worth of calories.

6. Eat at an earlier or later time: Restaurants will be more open to taking special orders if you eat during off-peak dining hours.

7. Avoid fixed-price menus: They encourage you to overeat high-calorie foods.

8. Hang up photographs and images of healthy foods: Try hanging images of fruits and vegetables in your kitchen, and change them often. Experts say that exposure is key to getting someone to recognize a brand and encourage usage. The same goes for healthy eating.
 
9. Drink water before your meal
: Before you sit down to eat, drink a full glass (eight ounces) of water. This will help you to feel full, eat less, and consume fewer calories at that meal.

10. Put down your fork: Putting down your fork after each bite will help you eat more slowly. The receptors in your stomach take 20 minutes to tell your brain that you are full (i.e., you are actually “full” 20 minutes before you realize it), so eating slowly (and giving your brain time to catch up) will help you to decrease the amount of food consumed at each meal.

11. Just stop eating: If you are full, stop eating. Avoid thinking “I paid for it” or “I took the time to cook it, so I should eat it all.” Save the leftovers for lunch the next day. That way you won’t have to cook or pack a lunch, and you’ll save money, too.

12. Eat only in the kitchen or dining room: Do not eat anywhere but sitting at the kitchen or dining room table. This will help prevent you from munching on high-calorie, high-fat junk foods while watching television and subconsciously grazing while doing activities around the house. When you have finished your meal, leave the kitchen.

13. “Close” the kitchen: To avoid late-night munching, close down the kitchen after dinner. Clean up and turn off the lights. Consider the kitchen officially closed until morning.

14. Make a grocery list: Always shop with a list and buy only the foods on your list. Do not buy foods just because they are on sale unless they are on your list.

15: Avoid an “all or nothing” attitude: (For instance: “I already messed up and ate some cookies, so I might as well just eat 10 more.”) Remember that energy (calorie) intake is cumulative. The more excess energy you consume, the more weight you will gain. If you stop as soon as you realize you have eaten too much, you will minimize the impact on your present weight.

16. Reduce sugar in recipes and use spices: There’s a pretty good chance that, with a little smart thinking, you can cut the sugar in most recipes by one-third without compromising the taste of the finished product. In fact, you probably won’t even notice the difference. Check out recipe sites such as eatingwell.com, cookinglight.com and allrecipes.com. Also, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, anise and mint can add a sweet taste to foods without adding sugar or calories.

17. What do you fear? Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. In one column, create a list of your fears related to losing weight and all the negatives that surround weight loss. Now, in the other column, challenge each one of those fears.

18. You don't have to be perfect: You don’t have to be perfect to lose weight. Perfectionists may have follow-through, but, at the same time, they might set unrealistic standards that can never be met. If you have only 10 minutes to exercise, that's fine, just do the 10 minutes. A perfectionist might use this as an excuse to do nothing: "If I can't do a full hour, it's not worth it." But that’s just another way of making an “all or nothing” mistake.

19. Slip-ups: Remember that even though we all encounter “slip prone” situations and temptations, goal planning helps us handle them.

20. Don’t make drastic changes: Making drastic or highly restrictive changes in your eating habits may help you to lose weight in the short run, but those restrictions can be hard to live with permanently. Similarly, your program of physical activity should be one you can sustain. Rethink your definition of "weight loss success" to include an enjoyable, comfortably maintained and sensible eating program along with regular activity.

21. Dealing with a “problem partner”: You need to keep all unhealthy foods out of the house, but your partner keeps bringing them home. Try to say something before that happens instead of complaining (or overeating) after the fact. Read "Don't Be A Diet Hero"