Sneaky Ways to Slim Down

      If the scale is stuck, you can get it moving again without taking extreme measures. Nutritionists, psychologists, and researchers have found that small diet changes are often enough to drop significant weight. Jessica Cassity, author of "Better Each Day: 365 Expert tips for a healthier, happier you," is here to tell us about some of the latest findings on weight loss, just in time to get ready for summer.

      1. Ditch Family-Style Meals to Drop Pounds Scientists at Cornell University recently measured the amount of food consumed when eaters sat in front of or away from serving dishes. Not surprisingly, when the food was out of sight it was also out of mind, though the degree to which serving style influenced eating was astounding. Without the temptation within arm's reach, participants ate 20 to 29 percent less than they did when the extra helpings were in front of them. To host family dinners that don't result in aching bellies, cut down on mindless munching by serving food away from the dinner table.

      2. Eat Rye to Satisfy Hunger All Day Long Eating rye toast for breakfast may be the easiest way to stop afternoon snacking. New research from Sweden reveals that rye bread helps increase feelings of fullness for up to eight hours. In the study, which was co-authored by Hanna Isaksson, a PhD candidate at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, subjects were fed a breakfast of either rye toast or wheat toast with margarine and apricot marmalade. When satiety, hunger, and desire to eat were measured later in the morning, and hours later in the afternoon, eaters of the rye bread reported feeling less hungry and less interested in eating. The high fiber content in rye bread is thought to be the key factor to this prolonged feeling of fullness, but Isaksson thinks that psychology may play into the results, too: she says that people expect dark breads to keep them full for longer than lighter-colored ones.

      3. Drink Water to Ditch Extra Weight Drink more water, lose more weight. This sounds too good to be true, but shedding pounds may really be this simple, according to a recent study from Virginia Tech. When people were asked to drink two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals for twelve weeks, they dropped an average of five pounds more than people who didn't add any extra water to their diets. The people who drank the extra water ate an average of seventy-five to ninety fewer calories at each meal, so scientists suspect that the surplus water makes people feel full faster. The extra liquid may also result in the consumption of fewer sugary beverages, which is another way water could help you lose weight

      4. Be Smart about Buffet-Style Eating If you take the phrase "all you can eat" a little too seriously, there are some simple strategies to minimize damage to your diet next time you're faced with a buffet table. According to researchers at Cornell University, buffet guests with lower body mass indexes left more food on their plates and chewed their food for longer than those with higher BMIs. The lighter diners were also more likely to sit facing away from the foo d tables and place napkins in their laps while eating. In addition to using these tricks to beat temptation at the buffet, opt for smaller plates when dishing your food and browse the entire selection before serving yourself.

      5. "Organic" Isn't Everything Don't fall prey to the common misconception that eating organic gives you a free pass to stop counting calories. In a recent study out of Cornell University, scientists found that people who ate a cookie labeled "organic" estimated that it contained 40 percent fewer calories than a label-free cookie. Surprise: the cookies were identical. While organic foods may contain fewer chemicals than their non-organic counterparts, they're not necessarily healthier choices in terms of fat and calorie content. To make the best decisions for your body, read the entire label, not just the "organic" tag.

      6. Speed Weight Loss with Spicy Food If you love to douse your food in Tabasco sauce, you're in luckthat spicy flavor does a whole lot more than just bring a flush to your face: according to several studies, capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, actually helps speed up weight loss. When you eat a spicy pepperand in particular the white membrane that holds the seeds in place inside the plant, which has the highest levels of capsaicinyour metabolism increases, you burn more calories, and you oxidize more fat. And, in a recent study, capsaicin actually reduced appetite, too, causing people to eat less. If you get too much spice in a bite, drink cold milk. Researchers have found it more effective than water at putting out the fire in your mouth.

      7. Eat Mindfully, Eat Less An open bag of potato chips and a blaring TV are a sure recipe for overindulgencedistractions and mindless snacking go hand in hand. But you may fall into a similar trap even if you measure out a proper portion size, says Jeff Brunstrom, PhD, a behavioral nutrition researcher at the University of Bristol. If your brain is distracted from your food, it may forget to signal your body that you're full, which means you'll refill your plate even if your body doesn't needor wantthose extra calories. According to Brunstrom, your mind subconsciously stores information about the food you're eating, then uses this data to determine when to eat next. But these mechanisms don't work if you aren't paying attention to the food you're chowing down. "In studies, we've shown that distracting people while they eat can impair the formation of these food memories, leading to more hunger and greater consumption of food at a subsequent meal," says Brunstrom. To fully absorb the food you eatphysically and mentallyget rid of all distractions at mealtime and pay attention to your plate.

      For more great health information, visit Jessica's website.