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7 Ways to Eat More and Lose Weight

I came home and found my roommate, Rachel, sitting at the kitchen table. She was staring down at her dinner plate in dismay—and it didn't take long to realize why she looked so miserable. The only thing on it was a dry, chalky diet bar. She was trying to lose weight—again.

While many of our friends were envious of Rachel's "discipline," I thought her situation was a little sad. At Eat This, Not That! we believe eating should be enjoyable, even when you're trying to lose weight rapidly! In fact, if you're too restrictive, you'll likely become so fed up (or hungry) that you'll throw in the towel, or worse, down an entire carton of ice cream in a single sitting. Binging not only derails your hard-earned slim down wins, but also makes you feel disheartened.

So what's a food-loving dieter to do? We say, fill up your plate and embrace eating! Sound too good to be true? Well there is one catch. Filling your plate with chips and cookies isn't going to cut the flab—sorry. Instead, you've got to load up your plate with foods that will help you kick those pesky pounds to the curb. Following our tips ensures that you can sit down to a plate filled with slimming, delicious food that won't leave you hungry. So what are you waiting for? Scroll down, check out our special trim down tips for food-lovers and start losing weight today!

Start Crowding Out

We know, that spread at Grandma's looks amazing—you can't help but fill up your plate… and go back for seconds. If you think we're about to scold you, you're wrong. We actually think you should go back for thirds—but only if you follow our crowding out rule. This strategy, commonly recommended by nutritionists, is a simple one. Load up your plate with healthy, low-cal foods (like veggies) so you don't have room for more caloric options (like fried chicken). When you follow this strategy, you can practically eat as much as you want; because healthy food like veggies are often loaded with hunger-busting nutrients like fiber and water, odds are good that 'as much as you want' will be only one plate.

Swap in Applesauce

If homemade baked goods are your dietary kryptonite, we get it. Warm, gooey cookies are hard to say no to and even harder to stop eating once you've started. The goods news is, simply swapping out sugar for unsweetened applesauce can save you hundreds of calories! While one cup of the white stuff has more than 770 calories, the same amount of unsweetened applesauce has about 100 calories. Depending on how big your cookies are that could easily save you between 20 and 80 calories a pop! While we don't endorse eating cookies in excess, if your sweets have been healthified, eating one or two extra likely won't do too much damage to your waistline. Note: If you're swapping out sugar for applesauce, a 1:1 ratio works fine; but for every cup of applesauce you use, reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by 1/4 cup.

Lay Off the Quinoa

Before you panic and think we're about to diss quinoa, hear us out. It's a great gluten-free source of fiber and protein, and we recommend it to our readers often. However, if portion control is an issue for you, or you feel more satisfied after consuming a larger amount of food, switching to bulgur (the main ingredient in tabbouleh salad) may be a better bet. Why? Cup for cup it has 70 fewer calories and three grams more belly-filling fiber. So, not only can you eat more of it without exceeding your typical caloric intake, it will likely keep you more satiated than quinoa, too.

Say Yes to Appetizers

While it may seem counterintuitive, eating something before you sit down to your meal can significantly reduce the number of calories you consume overall. No need to take our word for it. Science concurs: A Penn State University study found that eating an apple before sitting down to a meal meal reduces overall calorie intake by 15 percent! Another study published in the journal Appetite found that enjoying a bowl of vegetable-based, low-cal soup prior to a meal can slash the number of calories consumed during your lunch or dinner by 20 percent.

Eat Before You Sweat

If you've been doing fasted cardio in an attempt to slim down, you're likely doing more harm to your physique than good. Instead of working out on an empty stomach, eat a carb-laden snack like a slice of whole-wheat toast or a piece of fruit before you lace up your sneakers. Compared to other nutrients, the body burns carbs with the most ease, making it the best source of fuel for your workout—and the harder you can push yourself, the better your results. Plus, when you eat something before breaking a sweat, it can help ward off fat-storing stress hormones that are often released during strenuous, fasted exercise. In short, eating something before hitting the gym can help your get the body you've always wanted.

Get Steamy

There's no denying that sautéed veggies are a nutritious side dish, but every calorie counts when you're trying to trim down or get shredded. If you typically use about two tablespoons of cooking oil in your frying pan, you could keep 250 calories from ending up on your plate just by steaming your veggies instead. In fact, making this healthy swap every night for two weeks can take a pound of fat right off your frame. The best part? While it may take a bit longer, you'll still see results even if you add an extra serving or two to your plate.

Look for Volume

You've got a major dilemma: You can't imagine enjoying a Netflix marathon without your trusty bowl of chips by your side, but you're also trying to lose weight before your best friend's wedding. Instead of honing in on portion control and gazing sadly into an empty single-serving Lay's bag, switch to a snack that will give you a similar flavor for a fraction of the calories: air-popped popcorn! One cup of popcorn is a mere 31 calories—the same number of calories found in five measly potato chips. Making this simple, slimming switch can save you hundreds of calories in the long run. Need another reason to celebrate? Since popcorn is so low-cal, you're free to down a much larger serving, ensuring you'll have something to nosh on all night long.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh