Newswise — “As we look forward to the fresh start that a new year brings, many of us will also be struggling with the addition of the unwanted pounds we’ve gained during the holidays” explains Meredith Urban, MS, RD, CDN, The Center for Metabolic Surgery and Weight-Loss Management, The Valley Hospital. “In my role as a bariatric nutritionist, I have acquired a few tips and tools that can help you get back on track—and, hopefully, back to your goal weight!”

1. Drink water. People often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like noshing, reach for water first. Drinking also helps you to feel full. 2. Set realistic goals. One or two pounds a week is doable. 3. Count to 10. Studies suggest that the average craving lasts only about ten minutes. So, before caving into your urge, set your mental timer for a ten minute time-out. Use the time to tackle an item on your to-do list (choose one that will give you a sense of accomplishment), and get out of the kitchen! 4. Eat more often. Light, frequent meals curb your appetite and boost your energy. Control your environment and stock your home and office with healthy snacks. 5. Use low-calorie condiments. Condiments can stand in for mayo to deliver plenty of flavors without the fat. Mustard, vinegar, yogurt, ketchup, soy sauce, salsa, spices and rubs are very low in calories and can be spread on chicken or fish. 6. Cut your portions. When you eat out, reduce the temptation to clean your plate by setting aside one-third of your meal. Ask the server for a doggie bag, and take it home for lunch the next day. Try serving yourself one-third less at home, too. This simple tactic can subtract more than 500 calories a day. 7. Go easy on the alcohol. Remember that alcohol is a source of calories. A 12-ounce beer has 150 calories; a 3.5-ounce glass of wine, 85 calories. 8. Write notes to yourself. To help you stay on track, post positive notes to yourself on the fridge and the pantry. 9. Be mindful. Eating on the run or in front of the TV or computer invites mindless munching. Instead, set the table every time you eat. Make a conscious choice to sit down and savor every bite. 10. Consume your protein. Protein prolongs the feeling of fullness better than carbohydrates or fats do. Stick to low-fat protein sources like low-fat yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced turkey breast or chicken breast. 11. Learn how to measure. It’s easy to misjudge portion sizes. Pull out the measuring spoons and cups. 12. Make smart substitutions. Look for nutritious, low-calorie alternatives to sugary, high-fat treats. Try frozen grapes or a frozen banana instead of ice cream or cake. Use air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped. Bake an apple or a pear with cinnamon and Splenda. 13. Be active. Start your day with physical activity. Take a walk at lunch. Try a kick-boxing or yoga class. 14. Give yourself a break and relax. No one says you have to reach your goal without making mistakes along the way. Tell yourself you can succeed in losing weight by taking things one step at a time and starting fresh whenever you slip up. If you overeat one night, just get back on track in the morning by focusing on what’s worked for you in the past.

If you are struggling with more than just a few holiday pounds and have been unable to achieve or maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise, the team at our Center for Metabolic Surgery and Weight-Loss Management can help. Our bariatric experts offer both surgical and medically-managed weight-loss options.

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