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Published on August 14, 2015

How to eat anything you want and still lose weightHow to eat anything you want and still lose weight

In today’s world of “super-size me” fast food and restaurants that serve giant plates of food, it’s easy to overeat, especially if you come from the “clean your plate” culture.

Moderation is the key to good health in everything, including nutrition. It really is possible to eat all of your favorite foods, as long as you don’t overdo it with any one food or at any one meal.

Smaller portions and eating slowly are two ways to maintain a healthy diet, says Courtney Driscoll, clinical nutrition manager at Cape Cod Healthcare.

“Slowing down the pace is a huge help,” she says. “Pause, eat some, and then pause, because it takes your brain a while to realize what you’ve eaten. Oftentimes, because we’re so busy, we tend to inhale our meals and then we eat more than we really need.”

Driscoll offers these tips for maintaining a healthy weight, whether you’re dining out or eating at home.

6 tips for dining at home

  1. Start dinner with a salad. It will fill you up, and you’ll eat less of the main course.
  1. Serve dinner restaurant style by plating portions in the kitchen, instead of passing bowls and leaving them on the table.
  1. Serve portions slightly less than you think people will eat. They can always ask for seconds.
  1. Drink plenty of water during a meal. It will help you slow down your eating—and can make you feel full faster.

“A lot of times people think they are hungry when really they are on the verge of dehydration,” says Courtney.

  1. Learn what an appropriate portion really is and don’t rely on the labels to tell you.

Follow this rule of thumb:  For a protein like meat, eat a portion the size of the palm of your hand. “I don’t generally limit fresh fruits and vegetables because it’s hard to over-eat them,” Driscoll says.

  1. Never skip a meal. It ruins your metabolism. When people skip breakfast and lunch and then eat a big dinner, their body holds onto that food longer because it goes into starvation mode.

If you eat small portions throughout the day, your body burns through them faster.

Try splitting up your food. For example, if you typically eat oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, eat just the oatmeal for breakfast and save the fruit for a mid-morning snack.

5 ways to eat better when dining out

In our culture, the mentality is “get more for the money.” Some restaurants capitalize on that sentiment by having “all you can eat” specials.

All you can eat should really mean:  Eat all you need to feel satisfied—and never take seconds.

  1. Consider ordering just a salad and an appetizer rather than a full entrée.
  1. If you do order an entrée, ask for a take-out box as soon as the food arrives. Pack up half the entrée to go and only eat what remains on your plate.
  1. If you love bread at your favorite restaurant, ask the server to bring the bread with the entrée rather than before the meal. If you have your meal to focus on, you are less likely to overdo it on the bread.
  1. Meals like fried foods and pasta don’t have a lot of nutritional substance to them, so you will burn through them quicker and become hungry sooner.

“Focus on foods that are more nutritionally dense.” Driscoll says. “If you’re thinking about the most for your money think quality over quantity.”

  1. For families with busy schedules that include sports and other after-school activities, pack a healthy picnic and skip the drive-through.

“Being mindful is the key,” Driscoll says. “Pay attention to how much you are eating and what you are eating.”