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Eat Healthier: 4 Smart Food Moves

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A few small changes are all it takes to fight disease and feel amazing.

Savor Mealtime

Make healthy eating your goal and you'll boost energy, help ward off disease, fuel more intense workouts, and banish cravings. But overhauling your entire diet at once virtually guarantees you'll be back on burgers and fries in no time. Instead, start by adopting any or all of the smart moves below. We've provided expert tips and tricks to make them practically painless.

As seen in the September issue of FITNESS magazine, this "Eat Healthier" plan is part of the "You Can Do It" makeover plan. If you'd like to get healthy eating strategies delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the 8-week "You Can Do It" makeover plan. We'll e-mail you easy-to-follow guides every week to help you Eat Healthier!

 

Enjoying every bite of a well-prepared meal instead of wolfing it down helps you consume fewer calories, since fullness cues have a chance to kick in before you're stuffed. This also prevents bloating, because you swallow less air. Here's how to get more satisfaction:

Listen to Your Body

When you have the urge to eat at a time other than breakfast, lunch or dinner, ask yourself whether you're physically hungry (i.e., is your stomach growling?). If not, are you angry, bored, stressed, lonely? Write down these emotion-driven cravings in a journal, and take note of any patterns. Then come up with activities other than eating to deal with these feelings: Clean out an old file cabinet to de-stress, make a new iPod mix to beat boredom, or call a friend for a 10-minute gossip break to feel connected.

Settle In

Whenever possible, find a peaceful spot to eat, like a park bench near your office or your long-forgotten dining-room table. A recent study found that people who eat while distracted or in hectic, unpleasant environments (desk, car, in front of the TV) are significantly more likely to be overweight, according to study coauthor Deborah Kesten, an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Focus on the taste, texture, and aroma of every bite. Try to stretch meals to last at least 20 to 30 minutes.

Make It Fancy

Transform weeknight dinners into special events. Use the "good" china and silver, light candles, and set the mood with soft music. For restaurant-perfect presentation, serve foods in a variety of different colors at each meal, arrange main dishes and sides so that they're resting against each other rather than in three distinct piles, wipe any spatter from the edge of the plate, and garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs. "We eat with our eyes first," says Melanie Underwood, a food stylist and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. "If food doesn't look good, we assume it doesn't taste good either."

Next:  Dump the Junk

 

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