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7 simple secrets to help you lose weight

February 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
It's been four years since Cornell food psychologist Brian Wansink wrote "Mindless Eating," where he showed us the brain is hard-wired to eat big all the time, so the only way to fight back is to memorize small portion secrets. "Whether you need to lose 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 50 pounds, there are probably some little subtle habits you're doing, you're not even aware of it, and they're totally undermining, sabotaging your best attempts to lose weight," said health expert Elizabeth Somer.

From "Food and Mood" to "The Eating Your Way to Happiness Diet," Somer knows the tricks to eating smart, like rule No. 1: Make a pact with yourself that unless food is served on a plate, you're not going to eat it.

"Every mouthful averages about 25 calories, so four mindless bites in a day, and you'll gain a pound in a month," Somer said.

Nibbling while cooking to eating off someone else's plate, food fails to register.

"It doesn't fill you up. It's an easy one to stop doing and a major one for helping to lose weight," Somer said.

Rule No. 2: Divide your plate properly - a quarter for starch, a quarter for protein and the other half for fruit and vegetables.

"I've had clients lose up to 30 pounds, and all they did was include two servings of a colorful fruit or vegetable at every meal and at least one at every snack," Somer said.

Rule No. 3: When it comes to plate size, think small. We put the same amount of food on small, medium and large plates, but we're content with the smaller, overloaded one.

Rule No. 4: The same goes for liquids. Choose tall and thin over short and fat.

Buying big means eating big. The larger the package, the more we eat. Rule No. 5: If you're buying economy size, create small portions and stow the huge package out of sight.

The sixth skinny secret? Sip soup.

"If you have a bowl of broth-based soup before a meal, it fills you up, and people tend to eat anywhere from 150 to 200 calories less at the meal," Somer said.

Soup includes water, fiber and protein, which are three of the magic ingredients for weight loss.

Finally, rule No. 7: Eat breakfast.

"We have hundreds of studies showing repeatedly that people that skip breakfast are much more likely to overeat later in the day," Somer said.

It doesn't have to be much. A little whole grain, a bit of protein and produce, you're good to go.