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Think Your Way to Healthy Eating

A teen learns how to change her thinking about eating well and loses weight.

Step 4: Think of Food as Your Body's Fuel, Watch Your Portions

Without heavy skating workouts, Julie didn't need big meals and snacks to stay fueled. To cut back on how much food she was eating, she began watching her portions (the amount of food she was eating in one sitting). To get an idea of how much she was eating, Julie tried measuring her food.

Favret says: Portion control is good, but be cautious about measuring food. 

"It can sometimes give you a good starting place -- an idea of how much is on your plate and that you're eating the right amount," says Favret. "Over the long term, just eyeballing what you're eating is best."

Here's an easy trick to make sure you're getting a healthy balance of food and not eating oversized portions.

Favret suggests filling half your plate with veggies. Add a lean protein like fish, chicken, pork, beef, beans, or low-fat dairy in another quarter. Then fill the last quarter of your plate with a healthy whole grain like whole wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, or brown rice. Try thinking of fruit as dessert.

Step 5: Don't Skip Meals -- Snack Smart

Even though Julie began cutting back on her portion sizes, she didn't give up meals or snacks.

Favret says: Skipping meals won't help you meet weight loss goals. And, you can still have snacks if you're trying to get to a healthy weight.

"There are lots of reasons why people snack. But there is one correct reason to eat a snack, and that is to satisfy true hunger between meals," she says.

If you are hungry, Favret says, you want a snack that will hold you over until the next meal; not set you up for endless grazing. A good snack is not always the thing that is marketed as "healthy" or pre-packaged as low-calorie or a single-serving snack pack. An ideal snack has some protein to keep you full.

"When we snack on just a processed carb [like chips or cookies] or fruit alone, it's really not going to satisfy us over the long term, and we're probably going to be reaching for another snack," she explains.

The body burns through carbs quickly, but it takes it some time to digest protein.

For a healthy, filling snack, try:

  • A piece of fruit with a handful of nuts or sunflower seeds
  • A serving of whole-grain crackers with peanut butter or cheese (Read the ingredients list on your cracker package: Don't pick crackers made with partially hydrogenated oil.)
  • Reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Step 6: Be Kind to Yourself

If you're changing the way you think about food, be patient, says Julie. It may take a little time to get used to your new mind-set and habits. In the meantime, cut yourself some slack.