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By Yoko Correia Nishimiya

Five easy weight-loss habits

Most people think eating healthy takes a lot of effort, time and money, but it doesn't necessarily need to be that way. Here are five tips for eating healthier that will not dramatically alter your eating habits, but may help you live a longer, more satisfying life.

Divide your plate into three parts

Make sure you always have protein, grains and vegetables on your plate, with vegetables comprising more than half of your meal. Using a variety of vegetables instead of just one can make your meal more colorful and palatable. Each vegetable has its own amount of nutrients, so by eating different kinds, you will get more of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. For protein, a simple steak of beef, fish, chicken or any other meat will do. Tofu, tempeh and seitan are vegetarian ingredients that can replace meats. For the grains you can add bread, pasta, oats, couscous and others.

Make a shopping list and stick to it

Making a grocery list beforehand is not only helpful for you to physically see what you need, but it also stops you from buying any extra food you do no need – which is usually something highly caloric. This way, your trip to the store will be shorter and you will save money.

Use warm ingredients in your salad

Who says all the ingredients in your salad have to be cold? Many people claim not to like vegetables and salads because they are cold, hard and tasteless, but when you boil, steam, grill or even fry a few of the ingredients, it gives the food a whole new taste. Another trick to make your food warmer is to add a warm protein or grain into your salad: a grilled chicken or some heated couscous, for example. It can make a huge difference to your plate and mood, especially during the winter.

Eat before you get too hungry

When you are too hungry, your mind tricks you into thinking that you need to eat more than you normally do. But that is not true; you just need to get some food in your system. Therefore, eating before you get too hungry, will help you make better choices about what to eat and in what amount. It takes your body about 20 minutes to realize that you are full, which can be tricky to notice when you are eating non-stop. Eating before you are hungry is also important because when a person is too hungry, they tend to eat very fast and not chew their food properly, causing bloating and slow digestion.

Drink water, water and more water

Drinking lots of water each day has many benefits, including better digestion, hydration and body functionality. Drinking a glass of water half an hour before a meal, as suggested by Pam Bede, M.S., R.D., can make you feel full and stop you from eating too much. There are also times when you may feel hungry when you are actually thirsty and just need a glass of water. Differentiating between feeling hungry and being thirsty can be difficult; so next time you think you are feeling hungry,but have recently eaten, try drinking a glass of water.

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