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8 Simple Changes at Dinner That Will Help You Lose Weight

Small changes with big results! Top nutritionists let you in on secrets for simple dinner swaps.

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Cute little girl and her beautiful parents are smiling while cooking in kitchen at homeShutterstock / George Rudy

Cook at Home (Yes!)

It’s no secret that most restaurant meals contain lots of extra calories. Christy Wilson, RDN says cooking at home is key for weight loss success. “By cooking at home, you’re in total control of what and how much goes on your plate,” she adds. “You can choose quality ingredients by combining lean proteins with whole grains, vegetables and fruits.”

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Old vintage retro classic kitchen timer.55Ohms/Shutterstock

Know Your Hunger

Do you ever feel super overstuffed after a meal? NYC-based dietitian Natalie Rizzo, MS, RDN says mindfulness is very important for weight management. She shares, “I challenge my clients to set a timer for 20 minutes, and wait until the timer goes off to go back for seconds. If you’re still hungry in twenty minutes, allow yourself a second helping. Most of the time, people find that they don’t want seconds after waiting 20 minutes.”

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my plate - portion control guideShutterstock / Oleksandra Naumenko

Shrink Your Plate

It’s amazing how quickly you can trick your mind into thinking you’re eating more! Chef Abbie Gellman, MS, RDN offers this tip: “Use smaller plates. Go by the 1/2 plate vegetable, 1/4 plate starch, 1/4 plate protein guideline, but swap the 12-inch dinner plate for a 9-inch plate. It will look like the same amount of food, but it will actually be smaller portion sizes.”

You’ll definitely want to make room for these grilled vegetables.

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Plan Your Meals

Planning out the next week’s meals will set you up for success. (Here’s how to get started!) Christy Wilson says that weight loss starts before you even head out to the grocery store.

“Haphazard-grocery shopping or going when you’re hungry is the perfect recipe for disaster,” she shares. Pick out a couple recipes or meal ideas, make your weekly shopping list and stick to it.

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My plate - portion control guideShutterstock / Oleksandra Naumenko

Eat the Right-Size Portions

Think about a deck of cards-size when serving your protein (fish, chicken, beef, eggs, pork) and about 1 cup, or a fist-size, for your carbs (brown rice, potatoes, pasta, corn). Round out your meal with lots of tasty non-starchy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or bell peppers.

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Fresh green salad with spinach,arugula,romaine and lettuceShutterstock / Alena Haurylik

Go for the Greens

Eating more veggies is an easy way to reduce your overall calorie intake while increasing your fiber. (Fiber contributes to satiety, so you’ll feel full longer.) Fill up with a delicious and colorful salad before your entrée—check out these salad ideas for inspiration!

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Noodles with pork and vegetables in take-out box on wooden tableShutterstock / Sergey Mironov

Plate Your Takeout

Sure, cooking at home is the ideal choice. But as triathlon coach Chrissy Carroll, RDN admits, there’s bound to be a crazy night that has you dialing up for some carry-out Thai. “Regardless of what you order, always portion out your take-out on a plate,” she says. “Eating from a box or carton can be deceiving, and research suggests that you eat more calories when eating from a larger helping of food.”

By simply using a plate, you’ll naturally cut calories!

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Detox fruit infused water. Refreshing summer homemade cocktailShutterstock / Tatiana Bralnina

Swap Soda for Water

Water (and other no-calorie beverages) are an easy swap. Just one beer contains about 150 calories, a glass of juice has 80-150 calories and a can of soda around 150-200 calories. Try water infused with herbs like mint or basil, berries or citrus for a fresh flavor. Sparking mineral water satisfies a craving for a special beverage without all the crazy sugar.

Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD
Jennifer is a doctoral-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with nearly 25 years of experience. The majority of her career has focused in health care, disease prevention and nutrition education for all ages - from middle school to graduate school students. She owns a private practice focusing on freelance writing and extracurricular nutrition clubs for children. When she's not working, Dr. Bowers enjoys swimming, running, hiking, biking, camping, cooking, and reading.