Is Your Diet Too Complicated?

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Think outside the apple

Change up the old standby fruits and veggies you've been rotating in your daily menu. Try Clementine oranges, figs, or Asian pears—whatever is in season and isn't more of the same old apples, bananas and baby carrots.

Still married to your favorite fruit? Eat it in a new way! Sprinkle an apple with cinnamon and bake it for a comfort-food dessert.

Plan healthy snacks like you do meals

Plan for afternoon hunger and prepare yourself with nutritious snacks from home. "People need to focus on structuring time for their snacks," says Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the ADA. Writing down what snacks you'll eat and when you'll have them will keep you from grazing, so you'll be less likely to overeat, he says.

If you have access to a fridge during the day, bring low-fat or fat-free yogurt or low-fat string cheese. Measure out a portion of fiber-rich cereal that you'd enjoy dry or with yogurt. Make "snack packs" using dried fruit and unsalted nuts or seeds. Round out your snack with favorite fruits or veggies to get in one of your recommended servings for the day. Aim to have your snack 3 to 4 hours after lunch to keep energy revved.

Take dinnertime down a notch

If you're starved, it's easy to wolf down your food. Slow down—you'll feel fuller faster, plus research shows that the more you chew, the more nutrients your body absorbs. Sip water often, put your fork down between bites, and chew a few extra times than you normally do so you'll be less likely to overeat. Nolan suggests her patients practice these tips to slow down during meals and become more aware of their hunger signals:

Concentrate on the taste, texture, and temperature of every bite. Always set the table. Take a deep breath before each bite. Experiment with using chopsticks.

Shake up your menu

Keep your day-to-day meals fresh by making a new, healthy recipe today. It could be as simple as a 5-minute Flat Belly Diet meal or one of our seasonal slow-cooker recipes.

Eat your last meal later

Contrary to popular wisdom, eating late at night won't make you gain weight. Adjusting your dinner hour to a later time actually saves calories by curbing the urge to nosh in front of the TV. "Having dinner a little bit later—but at least 2 hours before sleeping—helps prevent mindless snacking, which often happens in the evening. I encourage clients to move their dinners to 8 p.m. and suggest they go on a walk afterward," says Nolan.

Stop "distracted" eating

Tell yourself that you won't eat in front of the TV, when you're on the computer, or while reading today—all situations that encourage mindless noshing. Getting a grip on "amnesia eating" could close hidden diet loopholes so that you can reach your healthy weight goals—and cut unwanted fat and sugar.

Sit down at the table when you eat. If you have to eat lunch at your desk, turn away from the computer and take a few minutes to enjoy your meal—no work distractions allowed. If you're used to snacking in front of the TV, take that time to paint your nails, straighten up the living room during commercials, or use a teeth-whitening strip.

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More from Prevention:

14 snacks that power up weight loss

Mindless Munching Habits That Could Be Making You Fat

Small Changes That Take Off Big Pounds

Burn fat and cut calories in 60 seconds or less

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