Skip to content

19 Eating Habits To Drop a Pound a Day

Make these simple changes in your diet, and watch the pounds fall off!

Being super strict about cutting calories works for weight loss, but it can be a game of no's. No cookies. No pizza. No ice cream. No carbs after 7 p.m. And that's no fun. So it makes sense why so many people say "no way" to trying a calorie-restricted diet.

But what if there were a way to say "no" to certain foods without mouthing the word or even thinking it? What if you could easily avoid consuming hundreds of calories without even missing them? You absolutely can and you can do it without feeling like you're depriving yourself of the foods you love and lose weight in the process. Maybe even losing a pound a day!

By making simple, calorie-saving swaps throughout your day, swaps you'll never miss taste-wise, you can easily shave hundreds of calories from your diet every day, resulting in significant weight loss over time. And you'll gain not just a leaner body, but a significantly healthier one as well.

Trick yourself into better health using these covert ways of cutting calories without sacrificing, well, anything. And for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.

Drop the menu.

friends cooking together

Save 137 calories!

Simply cooking at home saves 137 calories a day versus eating meals at restaurants, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Don't know what to cook? here are our 100+ Best Healthy Recipes for Weight Loss.

Dab the grease.

blot grease

Save 120 calories!

Let oil-cooked foods rest on a paper towel after cooking. For every gram of fat soaked up by the paper towel, you'll save 9 calories. And yes, that means you can go ahead and dab your pizza with a paper towel to remove excess fat. It's estimated that you'll save 4.5 grams of fat per slice. Eat three slices, and that's 120 calories saved.

Or make a healthier pizza with these 29+ Best Healthy Pizza Recipes.

Choose an omelet, skip the sausage.

veggie salsa omelet

Save 200+ calories!

Egg breakfasts are great but they can be calorie bombs. "At the diner, order your omelet without cheese and skip the sausage," says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. Ask for spinach instead of cheese. These tweaks can save you 200 or more calories. Here's the Single Best Way To Make an Omelet.

Use a cast-iron skillet.

Cast iron skillet with herbs and spices

Save 124 calories!

A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet will allow you to cook with less oil, which means fewer calories. Where you might need two tablespoons of oil for a stainless steel pan, you'll need only one tablespoon of oil with a cast-iron pan, saving you 119 calories if you're using olive oil, 124 calories if you're using canola oil, and 117 calories if you're using coconut oil.

Swap zoodles for spaghetti.

zucchini pasta marinara sauce

Save 195 calories!

A cup of spiralized zucchini has just 25 calories compared to 220 in a cup of cooked spaghetti. Once you toss the veggie "noodles" with sauce and toppings (we like pesto, chopped grilled chicken, or sautéed tomatoes and onions), you'll never know the difference.

Go fresh over fries.

clementines in a bowl

Save 305 calories!

Instead of ordering a medium order of fries (340 calories) to go with your McDonald's hamburger, pick a clementine at just 35 calories per. Or one of these 20 Best Fruits for When You Want More Protein.

Pop your own popcorn.

Woman eating popcorn
MC Jefferson Agloro/Unsplash

Save 200 calories or more!

A medium bag of popcorn at Regal Cinemas tallies 1,200 calories, according to an independent lab analysis by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Better to sneak a cup or two of air-popped popcorn from home into the theater in your jacket pocket. Your secret is safe with us.

Bring the garden to your burgers.

Veggie burgers with vegetables

Save 35 calories!

Cut a bit of ground beef out of your batch of burgers or meatloaf mix and replace it with chopped mushrooms and peppers or shredded zucchini or carrots. The vegetables will add bulk, fiber, and nutrients while trimming calories.

Do the sashimi swap.

Salmon sashimi

Save 200 calories or more!

At the sushi restaurant, order one sushi roll with the seaweed on the outside, a miso soup, and sashimi instead of two rolls with the rice on the outside. This simple order swap will easily save you 200 calories from the carbs you'll cut by eliminating some rice.

Shrink the sugar.

baking brownies

Save 194 calories!

When a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use 3/4 cup. This works for almost every recipe. You'll save 194 calories and you won't miss the extra sweetness. Or try one of these 73+ Best Healthy Dessert Recipes.

Dress your salad with salsa.

Bowl of salsa

Save 240+ calories!

Chefs drown restaurant salads with at least four tablespoons of fat—and calorie-laden dressings, suffocating your once nutritious raw vegetables. You can ask for dressing on the side, a good move, or try this idea: Ask for a topping of salsa or pico de gallo. A half-cup of the Mexican topper has only 38 calories.

Cool your soup.

red lentil soup

Save 135 calories!

Whether you make your own broth or buy it, cool your soups, broths, and gravies in the refrigerator overnight before you eat them. This way you can skim off the fat that solidifies on the top, cutting calories. For every tablespoon of fat you skim off, you save yourself 135 calories. You can also store canned soup in the fridge to make this process even more convenient. For easy soup recipes, check out our list of 31 Best Healthy Instant Pot Soup Recipes.

Don't multiply your fats.

pulled pork tacos topped with avocado and cotija cheese served with lime wedges and corn
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Save 250 calories!

Taco night? Don't top your tacos and burritos with all three standard Mexican fats: cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Choose one fat-based topping and leave more room for vegetables or legumes. (See page 96 for calorie-saving tips when ordering burritos at Chipotle.)

Mash a "skinny stach."

Ricotta roasted garlic mashed cauliflower

Save 100 calories!

Instead of mashed potatoes, steam a head of cauliflower until tender and then dump into a food processor with a few sautéed garlic cloves. Process until the cauliflower is velvety smooth.

Have a sandwich.

ice cream sandwiches

Save 100 calories!

An ice cream sandwich, that is, instead of a bowl of ice cream. Like this Easy Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe.

Tell your margarita adios.


Save 266 calories!

The average frozen margarita packs 400 calories and 72 grams of sugar. That's more of the sweet stuff than you'd find in nine Dunkin' Donuts Apple n' Spice Donuts! Order a mojito instead and save about 266 calories per drink.

Fork your fajitas.

steak fajitas skillet

Save 180 calories!

Enjoy your fajitas without the carb and calorie overload. Fill up one tortilla and then eat the rest of the meat and vegetables using your fork. By forgoing two medium tortillas, you'll save 180 calories and probably more since you tend to add guac, sour cream, and cheese to each fajita wrap.

Replace some butter.

bowl of applesauce

Save 381 calories!

You can replace butter (or margarine or oil) with apple butter or unsweetened applesauce when baking. But, seriously, there is no substitute for butter. So to do this without missing the buttery flavor, substitute applesauce for a quarter of the butter. If a recipe calls for a cup of butter, use 3/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of applesauce. One-quarter cup of butter is 407 calories; 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce is 26 calories. This simple swap will save you 381 calories, and your baked goods will still be buttery and delicious.

Order an appetizer.

grilled chicken salad

Save at least 100 calories!

"Instead of ordering an entrée at your favorite restaurant, order two appetizers or an app and a side dish," says Shapiro. To ensure calories stay reasonable, stay away from anything fried and make one of your picks veggie- or broth-based. That might mean ordering a small spinach salad and an order of prosciutto-wrapped melon or a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a side of roasted vegetables. And bonus: This calorie-saving hack will likely save you cash, too!

Or try ordering one of these 15 Healthy Meals to Order at Chain Restaurants, According to Dietitians.

Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more about Jeff