Ten Steps to Cut Calories

The best source of calcium is found in milk and milk products. Calcium is needed to keep bones strong.

Step 1. Switch to low-fat or non-fat dairy products

The best source of calcium is found in milk and milk products. Calcium is needed to keep bones strong. However, these products can be high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories. By simply choosing the low-fat or non-fat version of these products, you will immediately cut calories.

1 cup whole milk = 150 calories, 1 cup skim milk = 85 calories, 1 slice of American cheese= 60 calories, 1 slice of Fat Free American cheese= 30 calories.

Step 2. Embrace a sugar free lifestyle

Every teaspoon of regular sugar adds 15 calories. Coffee has no calories. The calories come from the added sugar and dairy products. For example, a Caramel Frappucino Blended Grande has 300 calories, 63 carbohydrates' and 3.5 grams of fat. Reach for sugar substitutes (Stevia or Splenda) as alternatives they have absolutely NO calories.

Step 3. Trim the fat

Most of the fat from poultry comes from the skin. Note the following: A fried chicken breast with skin has 217 calories. NO SKIN=160 calories. Use Pam Spray to stir fry meats. Bake, Broil or Boil all meats. Throw out the fryer.

Step 4. Salad dressing alternatives

Two tablespoons of Wishbone Italian Dressing = 100 calories Two tablespoons of Wishbone Fat free Italian Dressing= 15 calories, A tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar or a ¼ cup of salsa is great alternatives to dressing a salad with very few calories.

Step 5. Make one-slice sandwiches

One slice of bread may have anywhere from 65 to 120 calories. Eliminate one slice and serve your sandwich open-faced. Give up white bread which has no nutritional value. The alternative, whole wheat bread adds dietary fiber.

Step 6. Eliminate saturated oil, butter and margarine

Season your veggies with herbs instead of oil. For every tablespoon of butter, margarine, or oil, you are saving yourself 100 calories, dill on potatoes, chives on corn, oregano on green beans.

Step 7. Ditch designer cereals and granolas

Multigrain and all-natural options can still be high in sugar and fat. The best alternative for cereal is Special K Protein-Plus. This cereal when accompanied by non-fat milk, has 100 calories and 10 grams of protein to fill you up.

Step 8. Watch out for empty liquid calories

Juices, colas, alcoholic beverages, and energy drinks are high in sugar and contribute to hunger and over eating. The best alternative is WATER, WATER and more WATER…..a minimum of 72 ounces per day!!

Step 9. Portion control is essential

Super-sized food portions are the biggest saboteur of weight loss. You don’t have to carry a measuring cup to eat the recommend amount of food. Generally the palm of the average person’s hand measures a ½ cup of food. When dining out measure a palm size of your food and request a takeout container for the remainder of the food.

Step 10. Reduce sodium intake

A diet high in sodium content can negatively impact your blood pressure and contribute to weight gain. Processed foods are typically loaded with sodium. As a healthy alternative, select the following seasonings and condiments: Mrs. Dash, Black and Red pepper, Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Thyme, Seasoned No Salt Sodium-Free Salt, Magic Salt Free Seasoning, Hot Sauce 2 tablespoons, Ketchup 1 teaspoon, Relish 1 teaspoon, Mustard 1 teaspoon and ¼ cup of Salsa per meal.

Dr. Donald Henderson is Medical Director of Encore Wellness & Weight Loss and has a private practice specializing in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine in Los Angeles, CA.

Fact: 80% of your weight loss results will be based on what you eat; only 20% is the result of fitness and exercise.

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I learned that I had to not only change my diet but my way of thinking. For the first time in a long time, I am very happy and confident to see myself in the mirror. I no longer run and hide from the camera, and the best part of all is being able to fit into all my old jeans and seeing everyone’s reactions to my weight loss! Now you couldn't pay me to eat junk food. If I can do it, anybody can!