We all know the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” but sometimes small actions can majorly influence how things play out—especially when it comes to weight loss. Even if it’s not always obvious off the bat, your tiny habits can make or break your progress. An extra bite here, a mild freak out there…these are the things that can mess with your body and hold you back from those flat abs you want before summer. Thankfully, though, little things are easy to fix. (Yay!)
Read on to discover what may be making you wider (or just holding you back)—and while you’ve got weight loss on the brain, consider subscribing to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! You’ll get dozens of pages devoted to healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips. For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
Between late nights at work and juggling a family, living your best life isn’t always easy—we totally get it. Don’t worry about overhauling the big stuff on your quest for a smaller gut, instead, hone in on fixing the fixable. Here, we outline the biggest weight loss saboteurs that may be sneaking into your daily life—and simple ways to fight back.
YOU’RE CONSTANTLY LATE
If you’re the kind of person that’s always running behind schedule, that means you’re constantly feeling stressed. You know that tight feeling in your chest when you’re stuck in a traffic jam—and already running behind? That’s the result of the stress hormone cortisol which has been shown to cause headaches, stomach distress, high blood pressure, chest pain and, you guessed it, a slower metabolism, according to a Biological Psychiatry research. To add insult to injury, the types of food we crave when we’re stressed out tend to be fatty and sugar-laden. That means it will be far harder for you to say no to the break room pastry platter than it would have been had you left on time. The fix here is a simple one: Start getting ready to leave 10 to 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to. Your stress levels—and belly—will thank you.
YOU DON’T HAVE A SNACK DRAWER
In our day-to-day lives, food temptations are everywhere—the office, the gas station, and every street corner. To make it easier to eat smart and avoid stuffing your face when you’re starving, always keep your desk, car, and purse stashed with healthy snacks. “The good-for-you fat, protein, and fiber make almonds one of my favorite snacks for flat abs,” says celeb trainer Mark Langowski, author of Eat This, Not That! For Abs. Raw almonds, apples, and low-sugar KIND bars are a few of our go-to snacks, but you can get more ideas with these 27 Healthy Snack Ideas Under $1. And whatever you do, do not hit up any vending machines or drive-thrus!
YOU’RE ALWAYS DEHYDRATED
Are you really hungry, or are you actually just thirsty? A study in the journal Physiology & Behavior suggests people inappropriately respond to thirst over 60 percent of the time by eating instead of drinking. Even if you’re not hankering for a thirst-quencher, preloading meals with plain ol’ calorie-free water can shave hundreds of calories from your daily intake. And if plain water sounds boring, you can add some practically calorie-free fresh citrus to create a health-boosting (and flavorful!) detox water. A study published in the journal Obesity found that people who drank two cups of water before eating consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories over the course of a meal than they would otherwise. This may simply be because water is filling, but researchers note the added H20 may well be displacing calories otherwise spent on calorie-laden beverages. “If all else fails, have a cup of tea, which has almost no calories,” recommends Kelly Choi, author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse. “Tea can help hydrate you and calm down cravings!”
YOU STAY UP LATE
You eat right and exercise but, sadly, nearly all of your efforts are negated if you’re staying up all night catching up on ‘Empire.’ In study after study, shorter amounts of sleep are associated with higher BMI levels and larger waistlines. The primary reason? “Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreased levels of leptin, the satiety hormone,” explains Alissa Rumsey, Registered Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Research also shows that when we’re sleep-deprived, our brains respond more strongly to junk food and have less of an ability to practice portion control.” To stay on track toward your flat-belly goals, aim for no less than 7 hours of sleep per evening and to accelerate your weight loss wins, check out these 30 Things to Do 30 Minutes Before Bed to Lose Weight.
YOU LOVE TOP CHEF
“Television recipes often contain more calories, protein, and fat than the experts recommend,” says Mary Hartley, RD, a consulting nutritionist from Providence, Rhode Island. “According to a study from Cornell, watching cooking shows and then cooking from scratch is associated with a higher body-mass index (BMI). However, cooking show viewers who watch but don’t cook do not have higher BMIs.” Bottom line: You can watch, but don’t cook the food porn (sorry, kitty!). Stick to these 20 Best-Ever Recipes for Zero Belly instead.
YOU ALWAYS CELEBRATE BY EATING
Just because you got a promotion at work, or finally closed on that new house doesn’t mean a giant feast is in order. It’s totally possible to celebrate your accomplishments and joyous occasions and without food. Think about it: If you went on a celebratory day trip to the beach three times a year instead of indulging in a dinner out, you could keep nearly 4,000 calories out of your mouth. That equates to a little more than a pound of fat! If skipping out on the meals out isn’t an option, at least, read these 6 Ways to Lose Weight at Any Restaurant before placing your order.
YOU SKIP MEALS
If your crazy busy life sometimes means skipping meals to fit everything in you may be doing your waistline a disservice. The reason: If you take in too few calories, it can cause your body to lose muscle mass, which will decrease the rate of your metabolism. Plus, when you skimp on grub, your body slows the rate at which is burns calories to conserve the fuel it’s got. “Under-fueling is just as risky as over-fueling,” explains Carolyn Brown, MS RD at Foodtrainers in Manhattan. Keep grab and go bites like nuts and fruit on hand so you can at least eat something when your tummy starts to grumble. Better yet, plan your meals and snacks ahead of time with the help of these 25 Tips for Meal Prep Sunday.
YOU DON’T STAND UP
Get this: We sit an average of 67 hours a week and spend just seven hours out of every 24 moving. How sad is that? And thanks to a new wave of ultra-sedentary jobs, we now burn 100 fewer calories a day than we did 50 years ago. That alone translates to an extra 10 pounds of flab a year! But thankfully you don’t have to quit your day job to stay slim. Taking a two-minute walk every hour can offset the effects of too much sitting, according to a Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology study. While a British study which found that standing at work burned 50 more calories per hour than sitting. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider this: If you stand for just three hours of your day, in one year you’d expend more than 30,000 extra calories — which amounts to about 8 lbs of fat! Invest in a portable standing desk to reap the benefits.
YOU AVOID THE SCALE
Avoiding the scale like your ultra clingy ex-boyfriend? Ignorance could be the very reason behind your ever-tightening waistband. “When you avoid the scale because you don’t want to know the number, that’s when you get into trouble. This is especially true in the winter months when we’re more apt to indulge in comfort food and cover ourselves with bulky sweaters,” says registered dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, who suggests hopping on a scale at least once a week—if not two or three, to monitor your progress. “I recommend weighing in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” says Palumbo. “If Monday is a bit higher than usual, all the better for getting back on track for the upcoming week. And Friday is good because if you’re a bit on the high side then, well, it’s all the more incentive to stay-the-course for the weekend and not go too crazy.” For more ways to lose those extra LBs, check out these 10 Genius Tips to Lose 10 Pounds!
YOU DON’T CHECK YOURSELF OUT
Is your obsession with Reese’s and Pringles derailing your weight loss efforts? It might be if you’re not using the self-checkout kiosks at the grocery store. Let us explain: According to a study by IHL Consulting Group, impulse purchases dipped 32.1 percent for women—and 16.7 percent for men—when they were the ones to scan their items and swipe their credit card. Although not all impulse buys are bad for your belly, a whopping 80 percent of candy and 61 percent of salty snack purchases are unplanned. Next time you’re at the grocery store, head to the self-checkout line. Switching up your routine may just be your ticket to slim-down success. For more ways to shop your way slim, check out these 50 Best Supermarket Shopping Tips Ever.
YOU’RE A FACEBOOK-AHOLIC
It’s not just an unflattering photo making you wide. Along with some wildly unhealthy viral videos of recipes, social media is a reason it’s harder than ever to lose weight because of the lifestyle involved. “We’re more addicted to social media than ever, which often translates to snacking late at night while at the computer,” explain The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. Research published in Obesity points out that eating at night (even if you don’t eat any extra calories) changes the body’s circadian rhythm and leads to weight gain. No wonder this is one of the 25 Things You’re Doing to Slow Your Metabolism! The Nutrition Twins build on that by noting: “Nighttime exposure to light from computers, phones, and tablets is linked to interrupted sleep and negatively impacts your body’s stress hormones, your metabolism, and how much fat you store around your midsection.”
YOU DRESS UP ON THE REG
Those heels and dresses may make you feel like more of a professional, but wearing jeans to the office is far better for your belly. University of Wisconsin researchers found that people who wore denim to work took almost 500 more steps (about a quarter mile) throughout the day than they did on days when they wore more formal attire. Over time, those additional step can help you maintain your lean physique. For more simple ways to stay lean for life, check out these 30 Foods That Melt Love Handles.
YOU USE A SHOPPING BASKET
You may only need to pick up a few things, but that doesn’t mean you should grab the little basket instead of the cart. In fact, lugging a heavy load of groceries around the store may make you less likely to pick out the best items for a flat belly, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research. The researchers explain that the strain of carrying a basket makes shoppers more likely to reach for quick-grab impulse items—like cookies, crackers, and chips. But the solution is a simple one. Keeping the additional pounds away is as easy as grabbing a shopping cart.
YOU DON’T HAVE FIT FRIENDS
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than two-thirds of adults are considered to be overweight or obese—and as of mid-2015, the number of obese people is actually a larger group than that of the overweight-but-not-yet-obese. Study after study explains why Americans are getting rounder: We’re subconsciously influenced by social norms and by those around us. Studies have even shown that when we eat with larger people, we may consume more food than what we usually do or what we would if dining with non-overweight people. Ditching your overweight bestie isn’t mandatory, but expanding your social circle to include some health-minded people can help you keep your perspective—and weight—in check. For more simple weight loss solutions, check out these 60-Second Weight Loss Tips Celebs Swear By.
YOU DON’T TAKE THE STAIRS
You have a file you need to deliver to the 15th floor. You take the elevator. Big mistake! Using the stairs burns twice as many calories! Still not convinced you should change your ways: A 150-pound person could lose about 6 pounds per year just by climbing up two flights of stairs every day, according to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Bump that up to six, and you could drop 18 pounds without ever hitting the gym.
DAILY EATING HABITS
Whether your goal is to lose or maintain your weight, your diet influences your outcome more than anything else. Read on for some easy ways to clean up your act and keep those excess pounds at bay.
YOU MUNCH TO THE MUSIC & IN FRONT OF THE TV
Eating lunch with your headphones in may seem like a harmless way to unwind during your midday break, but according to new findings, jamming out to the Biebs and watching cute cat videos while you eat are bad news for your waistline. In fact, Brigham Young University researchers found that research participants who listed to loud noises through headphones consumed 31% more food than the “quiet” group. “Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense,” says study researcher Ryan Elder. “But if people are more focused on the sound the food makes [as they eat it], it could reduce consumption.” For more ways to cut back on your consumption, check out these 25 Ways to Cut 250 Calories.
YOU HAVE A MID-MORNING SNACK
Americans are serial snackers. In fact, about two-thirds of adults snack at least twice a day, according to a study by the U.S Department of Agriculture—a habit researchers associate with the accumulation of belly fat. But you don’t have to go snackless to snack less. Just watch the clock. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that mid-morning snackers tended to consume more throughout the day than afternoon snackers. Afternoon snackers, on the other hand, tend to choose good snacks. Afternoon munching was associated with a slightly higher intake of filling fiber and fruits and vegetables. And speaking of snacks, be sure you’re noshing on some of these 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss.
YOU NEVER SWAP FRIES FOR FRUIT
Sometimes you just need to indulge in a juicy fast food burger or a salty order of nuggets—we totally get it! But maintaining a healthy weight is all about checks and balances. Meaning, if you order something indulgent like a burger, you should offset it with something lower in calories and higher in nutrients like a piece of fruit or a side salad. If you don’t think your choice of side dish is a big deal, consider this: A medium order of fries off the McDonald’s menu packs 340 calories, their signature Cuties have just 35. This swap is a no brainer—and one that can keep tons of weight off your frame if you make it a habit.
YOU ALWAYS ADD CHEESE
Getting cheese on your breakfast sandwich, salad or wrap may not seem like a habit that can make you gain weight, but with an average of 113 calories per slice, it most certainly plays a part. Removing from cheese from just one meal a day can save you over 41,000 calories a year! In other words, you could lose up to 12 pounds in just 12 months by saying “hold the cheese, please!” How amazing is that?
YOU EAT MOSTLY WITH BIG GROUPS
It’s great to be social and have a lot of friends, but if grabbing food is your hangout of choice you could be setting yourself up for weight gain. According to research published in the journal Nutrition, a meal consumed with one other person is typically 33 percent larger than a meal savored alone. It gets scarier from there. Third-wheeling with two friends? You’re looking at a 47 percent bigger meal. Dining with four, six, or 8+ friends was associated with meal increases of 69, 70 and 96 percent, respectively. Though part of this has to do with the amount of time we spend at the table when dining with company, another study from the journal Appetite found people who spent longer eating because they were simultaneously reading didn’t eat significantly more, meaning time isn’t the only factor at play here. You can still hang out with your friends. Just mix things up once and awhile. Check out a museum, see a movie, try a new workout class, go for a walk, or sneak in some of these one or two of these 19 Ways to Burn 100 Calories Without a Gym. You’ll save money and calories.
YOU DON’T PACK LUNCH
If you typically buy your lunch odds are good that you’re taking in more calories, salt, and sugar than you would if brought something you made at home. Why? Not only are restaurant chefs heavy-handed with sauces and seasoning, grabbing something at a local restaurant or ordering from Seamless both seem like more of an occasion. While you would normally skip an appetizer with weeknight dinners, those scallion pancakes and shrimp dumplings are just a click away. To keep away those extra calories, spend part of your weekend getting your grub together for the week ahead. These Meal Prep Ideas for Every Weight Loss Diet can help!
YOU’RE TAKE FROM THE OFFICE CANDY BOWL
That handful of chocolate you snagged from your co-worker’s candy bowl or those nibbles you stole from your kid’s plate may seem insignificant, but they can really add up! Our advice? Keep a glass of water at your desk so your hands—and your mouth—occupied. It will make it easier to save those nibbles for the special foods you can’t live without. Looking for more simple weight loss hacks? Check out these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried!
YOU IGNORE SODIUM
If packaged snacks and restaurant fare are cornerstones of your diet, it’s likely to blame for your widening belly. And it’s not all water weight, either. According to a new study, salt actually messes with the biological processes that tell you when to stop eating. “Our body has biological mechanisms to tell us when to stop eating, and fat activates those mechanisms in people who are sensitive to the taste of fat,” lead author Russell Keast said in a statement. “However, when salt is added to the food, those mechanisms are blunted and people end up eating more food. This can cause you to eat more fatty foods, and over time, your body adapts or becomes less sensitive to fat, leading you to eat more to get the same feelings of fullness.” When cooking at home, use fresh herbs instead of salt. Dining out? Scan nutrition info at home before you head out and pick a low-cal dish with about 1,000 milligrams of sodium or less. Can’t be bothered? Many of options in our report The Healthiest Dish to Order at 20 Fast Food Chains fit the bill!
YOU DON’T EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN
New to the vegan world? Recently decide you hate the taste of meat? Actively trying to cut your carbon footprint? Then you may not be consuming enough protein. Don’t get us wrong, it’s 100% possible to lead a meat-free lifestyle and still take in enough of the muscle-building nutrient, however, it’s often an art that takes time to perfect. Consuming enough protein is important for two reasons: Since it digests more slowly than refined carbohydrates, it’s satiating and staves off overeating. It also helps maintain lean muscle mass. “If you aren’t consuming enough protein to keep your muscles and cells healthy, the body ends up breaking down muscle to access the nutrients it needs—and this spells trouble. Less muscle mass means a slower metabolism, which over time, can cause weight gain,” explains Rumsey. To keep your metabolism going strong, stock your kitchen with these 30 Best-Ever Proteins for Every Goal.
YOU GRAB YELLOW & PINK PACKETS
If you add a packet of zero-cal sweetener like Splenda to your daily cup of java or tea you might want to consider changing your ways. Why? “These sneaky devils can wreak havoc on your whole digestive system, which can cause weight gain and bloat,” says Shay Kostabi, Master Trainer and Creative Director for ReXist360 Resistance Training Systems. Keep an eye out for sweeteners in less obvious places, too. They can be hiding in everything from protein bars to gum under aliases like saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol.
MOST OF YOUR FOOD WAS MADE IN A LAB
Sad, but true: “More, please!” is music to the ears of many food scientists looking for feedback on their products. “The food industry brilliantly designs their products to be hyper-palatable, ensuring their customers come back for more,” says Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet. “With chemists in the lab concocting recipes with just the right level of sweet, saltiness, and fattiness, the human palate is easily convinced. This is why you literally ‘can’t eat just one.'” That said, keeping processed foods to a minimum can help you take in fewer calories and consume a more wholesome, nutritious diet—two things that can help you maintain a healthy weight. To discover which foods pack the most health-protective nutrients, check out our exclusive report, The 15 Most Antioxidant-Packed Fruits & Veggies—Ranked!
YOU DON’T HIT YOUR 5-A-DAY
And in that same vein, if you’re typically reaching for granola bars and chips over baby carrots and apple slices you may not be hitting your recommended intake of fruits and veggies. And consuming less produce means you’re more likely to fill out your pants. Research published in the journal PLOS Medicine linked the greater consumption of vegetables like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli to greater weight loss results when compared with diets high in low fiber foods. Filling up half your plate with vegetables it a great place to start, and these 20 Side Dishes That Make Any Meal Instantly Healthier all serve as mouthwatering veggie inspo.
YOU KEEP DESSERT ON DISPLAY
If you have a sweet tooth it’s time to kick your glass cookie jar to the curb and hide your candy stash in the cabinet! In a study by Google, placing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones, and giving healthier snacks more prominent shelf space, curbed M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For more easy ways to effortlessly up your willpower, check out these 40 Tips for Motivation—That Actually Work!
YOU KEEP YOUR FAVE ICE CREAM
And speaking of junk food, if you know your willpower is weak, then you shouldn’t even be keeping it in the house. If you change up your purchasing habits, chances are you won’t eat as many diet-derailing sweet treats. If you can’t imagine kicking your favorite cookies out of the house for good, individually portion the foods you tend to overeat. If you know each Ziploc bag of chips is 150 calories, you’ll be less likely to go back for a second serving. And speaking of saving calories on snacks, check out these 50 Snacks With 50 Calories or Less!
YOU DON’T EAT ENOUGH FIBER
Ask any diet expert what they think about fiber, and they’re bound to tell you it’s an imperative part of any weight maintenance plan. So if you tend to skimp on the nutrient it could explain why you’ve been packing on the pounds. “According to research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, eating foods rich in soluble fiber, like oatmeal (one of the 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss), apples and beans, can reduce belly fat, says registered dietitian nutritionist Jennifer McDaniel. Weight management specialist Sarah Koszyk, who’s also a big proponent of eating fiber for weight maintenance, suggests eating berries to hit your daily mark. “Blueberries and raspberries are packed with fiber, low in sugar and calories, and chock-full of vitamins.” Add them to your morning oats and eat them along with some nuts as an afternoon snack.
YOU’RE OBSESSED WITH PEANUT BUTTER
When staying slim for life is the goal, portion size is just as important as eating healthy. The reason: Many nutritious foods—like avocados, oatmeal, quinoa, dark chocolate, nuts and nut butters—can lead to weight gain when eaten in excess. To ward off weight gain, don’t make the assumption that the healthy food you’re eating is low calorie—unless it’s a fruit or a vegetable, of course. And next time you’re whipping up a meal, remember these three portion control cues: 1.) A helping of nut butter or shredded cheese should be no larger than a ping-pong ball; 2.) a true serving of rice and pasta is about the size of your fist; and 3.) lean meats should be about the size of a deck of cards. Sticking to the recommended serving size can help zap away excess pounds.
YOU NEVER USE THE ‘HALF RULE’
When you put together your meals, do you always ensure half of your plate is filled with fruits and veggies? If you’re shaking your head no, extra pounds may spring up on your frame later down the road. “[Produce is] nutrient dense, high in satiating fiber, and low in calories. By eating the veggie half of your plate before anything else, you will take the edge off your hunger, eat less overall calories, and still feel full and satisfied,” explains registered dietitian Danielle Omar. “Keep eating this way and the pounds will painlessly melt away.”
Get this: The average American gets a meal or snack from a restaurant nearly six times per week. That’s six opportunities to blow your diet—or make a decision that will bring you one step closer to your weight loss goal. Read on to find out how to achieve the latter.
YOU ORDER THE HEALTHIEST SOUNDING MENU ITEM
Strange but true: When you think of your meal as a light choice, it can cause your brain to pump out more ghrelin, the hormone that boosts appetite. To keep your hunger in check, stick with restaurant foods that are surprisingly low-cal, instead of the obvious options like the house salad and veggie soup. For example, if you’re at Chick-fil-A, go for the breaded and fried Chicken Sandwich over the Cobb Salad. The sandwich sounds like the more indulgent alternative, but in reality, eating it over the greens keeps 300 calories and 36 grams of fat off your plate. For more no-sacrifice eats at your favorite restaurants, check out these 25 Restaurant Meals Under 500 Calories for more no-sacrifice eats at your favorite restaurants! Whether you’re craving Chinese, fried chicken or pizza, we’ve got you covered.
YOU NEVER SPLIT DESSERT
Cutting out dessert or indulges all together falls under the category of “extreme” which could set you up for diet failure, but never splitting dessert with someone else could be just as dangerous for your waistline. Another fork in the mix means fewer calories being shoveled into your own mouth, so only order dessert if you can find someone who is willing to split. And whatever you do, be sure to avoid these 20 Restaurant Desserts With More Salt Than A Bag of Pretzels.
YOU DON’T ASK FOR “LIGHT SAUCE”
Restaurants tend to drown their dishes in deep, treacherous pools of oil, cream, butter and sugar—all of which are calorically dense and offer little to no nutritional benefits. Special ordering it on the side can save you up to 1,000 calories per dish. Yes, you read that correctly, 1,000 calories! Over a course of a year, that could equal major weight loss! If you’re not already making this request when you dine out and order in it’s time to start.
YOU DON’T GET DRESSING ON THE SIDE
When a chef dresses your take-out salad for you, you’re apt to get four to five fat and calorie-laden tablespoons of the stuff suffocating your once-nutritious vegetables. If you order a creamy dressing like Caesar, that would run you about 400 calories. Those who ask for their dressing on the side, however, could slash their calorie intake in half. For that Caesar salad, that translates to 200 fewer calories on your plate that would eventually end up on your love handles and thighs.
YOU DON’T GET THE BOOTH BY THE WINDOW
Being lax about where the hostess seats you may make you seem laid back in front of your date, but your waistline could benefit if you ask for a well-lit table by a window. According to studies, those who park themselves in a dark booth are 80% more susceptible to ordering desserts. For learn more skinny restaurant hacks, check out our report, The Skinniest Seat in the Restaurant.
YOU ORDER LAST
If you want to eat healthy when dining out with a group of friends, keep healthy company … or order first! A University of Illinois study found that groups of people tend to order similarly, especially when forced to give their order out loud. The researchers attribute the results to the fact that people are happier making similar choices as their peers. In other words, if you tend to be indecisive, check out the menu at home, decide on a dish, and ask the waiter if you can order first.
YOU ALWAYS SKIP THE SALAD
Typically skip out on the salad course? Don’t do that! A series of well-cited Yale University studies suggest eating a salad appetizer can reduce total calorie intake over the course of the meal by up to 20%. For a 600-calorie pizza-fest, that would mean a savings of about 120 calories—more than a mile on the treadmill! Thinking of ordering a bed of greens as your main meal? Make sure it’s not one of America’s Worst Restaurant Salads!
YOU GO CRAZY WITH CONDIMENTS
Next time you’re at a Mexican-inspired eatery like Chipotle, get the cheese, sour cream, or guacamole as your topping—but not all three. According to registered dietitian lyse Schapiro this tweak to your meal will keep at least 250 calories from winding up on your plate.
YOU’RE BFF WITH THE BREAD BASKET
We know, we know, the dinner rolls are the best part of the meal. They’re so fluffy. So salty. So warm and delicious. But they’re also void of any major nutritional benefits—and just two slices of the French variety has 376 calories (not including the butter)! Yikes! Next time you go out to eat, ask for a veggie appetizer in lieu of the bread basket. If you really can’t imagine forgoing the carbs, check out these [20 Secrets for Eating Bread Without Getting Fat[(https://www.eatthis.com/bread-and-fat-loss) to find out how to indulge without the bulge.
YOU GET THE “REGULAR SIZE”
Think you’re being smart because you always downsize to the large order of fries? Turns out, people actually consume more calories when they order regular-sized menu items than when they order portions advertised as “double-sized”, according to a new study. If you’re going to indulge on occasion, get the size you actually want.
YOU DON’T “HOLD THE WHIP”
Whipped cream is basically sugar and fat mixed together and shoved into an aerosol can so you had to know it wasn’t good for you, right? Ask your barista to “hold the whip”
whenever you order a “fancy” drink (like a cafe mocha or a Frapp) that you think may have even the slightest possibility of coming with the add-on. It will save you anywhere from 50 to 110 calories depending on what size you get. For more ways to slim down your coffee order, check out these 20 Easy Ways to Stay Slim at Any Coffee Shop.
BAD WEEKEND HABITS
Ah, the weekend: The two days of the week you can kick back and decompress. It’s also the two days of the week most people blow their diet and healthy living plan. Are you making any of the mistakes below? Read on to find out!
YOU ALWAYS GET THE POPCORN
Big movie buff? Totally fine, so long as you stay away from the movie snacks. A medium bag of popcorn at Regal Cinemas carries a whopping 1,200 calories, according to an independent lab analysis by Center for Science in the Public. That’s 60% of the day’s calories. And yes, other theater’s popcorn buckets are just as bad. To save your six pack, bring your own bag of stove-popped kernels or throw a low-sodium packaged option like SkinnyPop into a baggie and sneak it in the theater—we won’t tell! Air-popped corn only has 31 calories per cup so you could easily save 250 calories more.
YOU POUR A GLASS OR TWO
Being a weekend wine-o is better that sipping the stuff daily, but it’s still not a great habit if staying trim is a top priority. According to a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition report, drinking alcohol causes people to eat an extra 384 calories daily, likely because it makes us more sensitive to food aromas and less likely to resist indulgent fare. Stay away from the stuff if you want to maintain your flat belly.
YOU VEG OUT
If your weekends are typically spent not moving from the couch, listen up! This bad habit not only puts a lull in your calorie burn, it also stresses your lower back, tightens your hip flexors and messes with your blood flow. Pry yourself away from the couch and do something active. Take a walk, go bowling with friends or stroll the mall and window shop. You’re likely sitting at a desk all week so lounging all weekend is the last thing you should do.
YOU STRESS ABOUT MONDAY
If you really hate your job, so much so that you get really stressed on Sunday thinking about Monday, it may be time to look for another gig. The constant surges of cortisol can mess with your hunger hormones and cause you to reach for comforting (read: fat- and sugar-laden) snacks. While you’re searching for a new job, try to incorporate some of these 20 Easy Ways to Lose Weight at Work into your routine.
YOUR DIET RULES GO OUT THE WINDOW
“Occasionally including can aid weight loss efforts by warding off feelings of deprivation and bouts of overeating,” explains dietitian Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “It can make it easier to stick with your healthy eating regimen for the long haul.” But if your cheat meals turn into cheats day or a cheat weekend, that’s when things can head south. “Treating yourself to a beautiful steak and baked potato is different than four slices of pizza and a six-pack of beer. To keep calories in check, pick your cheat meal before the weekend begins and be sure to jump right back on the healthy eating bandwagon afterwards—no matter how good a second greasy meal may sound.
YOU WATCH SPORTS—AND GET REALLY INVESTED
Get this: According to a 2013 French study, fans are more likely to binge eat the day after their favorite sports team bombs a big game. Simply being aware of this fact can help you make smarter food picks after a hard loss.
Image #5 courtesy of Flickr