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5 Instant Calorie-Saving Tips

COLUMN by DAVID ZINCZENKO

March 4, 2014

Calorie counting is stressful, but it doesn't have to be. And that's what my book "Eat It to Beat It!" is all about: Banishing belly fat and taking back your health, while eating the foods you love. Combine the brand-name food recommendations in my book with these five instant calorie-saving tips, and put your diet on autopilot today!

Calorie-Saving Tips

Snack with your left hand

Want to snack less without going snackless? Try the left-handed diet.

A study printed in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that moviegoers grabbed for less popcorn when doing so with their non-dominant hand. I tested the hypothesis myself earlier this year with the ABC World News team and came to the same conclusion: Eating with your non-dominant hand makes you think about what you're doing, and may help you eat less.

Use Smaller Plates

Remember how Mom told you to clean your plate? Most of us were listening -- and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Research printed in The FASEB Journal suggests that overeating may be associated with the size of our china. Participants who were given larger bowls, served and ate 16 percent more than those given smaller bowls. Not only that, the big-bowlers underestimated just how much they were eating by 7 percent!

Take advantage of the visual illusion by serving your "diet-friendly" portions on smaller plates, and trick yourself into eating less.

Unplug before you chow down

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who consume food while distracted eat 10 percent more in one sitting than they would otherwise. Not only that, a recent study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who let their teens use electronic devices during family meals tend to serve less nutritious food and have poorer family communication.

Adopt a "no electronic devices at the dinner table" rule today and start eating at the dinner table if you're not already.

Feel fuller-for free

Research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society showed that people who drank two cups of water before a meal wound up eating 75 to 90 less calories than they would otherwise. This may simply be because water is filling, but the added H20 may well be displacing calories otherwise spent on calorie-laden beverages.

Do this three times a day for a week and you'll have dodged enough calories to drop half a pound.

Eat before you eat

A series of studies at Penn State showed that eating an appetizer of a broth-based soup or even an apple can reduce total calorie intake over the course of the meal by up to 20 percent.

This concept of "Volumetrics," an eating plan focused on getting more mileage from eating low-density foods that leave you full, is based on a series of studies led by Dr. Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan.

Dave Zinczenko, ABC News nutrition and wellness editor, is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author. His latest book, "Eat It to Beat It!" is full of food swaps, meal plans and the latest food controversies.

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 Last Modified 9/25/14