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7 diet resolutions you can stick to

Don’t make losing weight impossible. Start with small changes to your eating habits. Here are seven diet tips to help get your weight loss started

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healthy breakfast diet cereal

1. Start your day with breakfast

“Breakfast is not the place to save on calories,” says registered dietitian Mary Bamford. Too often our diets begin with a light breakfast that lacks in protein and other nutrients, which triggers us to overload on food later in the day.

“It would be almost like filling up your car tank at the end of the day to go nowhere but sit in a garage,” she says. “Breakfast is when your body needs food for you to get moving in the day.”

And despite the jump-start that your morning caffeine fix gives you, making you feel as though you don’t need any extra energy from food, a latte does not count as a meal. Treat breakfast, and your food in general, as fuel for your body. This will ensure your metabolism stays up throughout the day.

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small plate

2. Use smaller plates

It’s a simple fact: Eat less and you’ll lose weight. There’s good evidence that over the past 50 years, restaurant portions have “super-sized,” and our waistlines have grown along with them. We’ve become accustomed to eating larger servings to the detriment of our health.

To combat this habit, use a smaller plate for your meals. Less space on the plate means automatic portion control. And when ordering or buying food, choose the smallest size of any high-calorie items.

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family eating dinner

3. Eat at home more often

The average Canadian family now spends almost 30 percent of total food dollars at restaurants and fast-food joints, according to Statistics Canada. To save money and pounds, start tracking how often you eat out and how much you spend on those meals each month, then gradually cut back.

“People who eat out a lot tend to eat less-healthy food and to be heavier,” says Melodie Yong, dietitian for the Heart and Lung Institute of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. In fact, the decline of cooking at home, linked in part to the increasing number of women in the workforce, tracks very closely with the rise in obesity over the past 30 years, she notes.

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woman eating chocolate

4. Have 100 “fun” calories a day

Should you cheat when you are trying to lose weight? No one is suggesting an all-you-can-eat junk food buffet, where you get to binge on an unlimited amount of every imaginable indulgence. But Breena Fretz, a public health dietitian at Brant County Health Unit in Brantford, Ont., suggests having a small amount (100 calories) of one of your favourite treats daily. That might be a 100-calorie chocolate bar, or 1/16 of a pie. Josephson recommends a modest 90 calories toward what she terms “fun food” for every 1,350 calories of eating on a healthy plan. It could be 90 calories each day or 630 calories once a week.

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eating cherry tomatoes

5. Eat smaller meals, more frequently

“Skipping meals can have a negative impact on your metabolism,” says Toronto nutritionist Aviva Allen-your body might start storing extra fat in anticipation of more missed meals. Instead of eating less, consume small, nutrient-dense snacks and meals more often – every three hours is ideal – and try not to eat after seven o’clock at night, when your metabolism is at its slowest.

Eating often also makes it easier to stay on track beacause denying yourself food isn’t a sustainable practice. “The biggest mistake is to think of your diet as a temporary event to reach a specific weight-loss goal,” says Allen. “If you plan to return to your old habits once you’ve reached your goal, the weight will quickly return.”

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wine

6. Follow the 80/20 rule

If you practise healthy habits 80 percent of the time, then you can relax 20 percent of the time (but take it easy-one particularly unhealthy meal could undo all the hard work you did for the week).

“If you’re a goody-goody for the whole week, you can have that glass of wine on the weekend,” says Dr. David Lau, who specializes in obesity and is a professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary. “It’s empty calories, but it’s a treat, it’s the enjoyment of drinking wine.”

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fruit bowl

7. Finish with fruit

For dessert, fresh fruit and berries-without the ice cream-are your best choice. If you are hankering for something sweet, sprinkle on some sweetener from one of the packages designed for coffee/tea. Most other desserts are a dietary disaster. But if a birthday cake is being passed around, share your piece with someone. A couple of forkfuls with your decaf coffee should get you off the hook with minimal dietary damage!

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How to stay motivated to lose weight