Summer Shape-Up #7: 5 steps to eating smarter

Losing weight doesn't have to be complicated. In many cases, it's a matter of making better decisions and choosing the right food choices. The first thing you need to realize is that you need to "eat smarter" and this includes:

1. Eating smaller meals more often - You've heard it all before - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But so is lunch and dinner. So don't skip meals. Instead plan on eating mini-meals six times a day. This way instead of sending your body into starvation mode, you'll rev up your metabolism, curve cravings and never be hungry.

2. Making better decisions - Think about what you're eating and learn about the hidden fats. You may think you are being "good" by ordering a salad in a restaurant, but all those dressings, nuts, fruits and toppings all have calories - and a lot of fat. Instead of ordering the large Caesar salad as a meal, order the steak and a baked potato or the grilled salmon. You'll find you be more satisfied and would have consumed less fat and calories.

3.Allowing one "cheat" meal a week - Saying you are never going to eat ice cream or pizza ever again is a recipe for disaster. You'll end up craving these foods and could end up on a major binge thinking you need to get them out of your system. To make eating healthy a lifestyle, allow yourself one cheat meal a week where you don't count calories and can eat those foods that you love. Eating them once a week isn't going to ruin your health, but eating them every day will.

4. Preparing in advance - Plan your meals ahead of time and buy your groceries in advance. Knowing what you're going to have to dinner and lunch every day will help prevent you from picking up take-out on your way home from work. If you know you're having chicken fajitas on Monday night and grilled chicken with rice on the next day, it will take the stress out of meal planning and help you stay on track.

5. Getting rid of temptation - If you know you can't resist it, don't have it in the house. That means no cookies, chips, ice cream and soda. Cravings are going to happen so if you do happen to buy a box of cookies, take the leftovers to work the next day to help stop you from eating the rest of them the next day. If it's not there, you can't eat it.

Take advantage of the resources out there. Many restaurants list their fat grams and calories, and magazines like Shape, Men's Health, and Fitness often have weekly meal plans to help you get started if you're not sure what you should be eating.

There are also websites like Eating Well that have a number of meal plans that you can download.

More about Michelle Ponto

Michelle Pontois a certified personal trainer, aNPC Bikini Competitor and the co-author of the book "Buff Dad: The 4-week Fitness Game Plan for Real Guys." She is also an executive producer at News10.


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