POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar

A POPSUGAR Fitness editor shares the dinner habits that helped her lose weight.

Not sure why this happened every day, but admittedly, it did. I ate healthy most of the day, with my green protein smoothies for breakfast, perfectly packed mason jar salads for lunch, and fresh fruit and nuts for snacks. I felt like my diet up until 5 P.M. belonged on a frickin’ Pinterest board. But for some reason, as soon as I came to that last meal of the day, I just let loose. Which made my pants fit not so loose. It was time to make some changes, and these adjustments helped me get back on track and lose the weight I had gained from enjoying my supersize free-for-all suppers.

A quick note: These tricks are easy to incorporate into your diet, whether you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, or adopt healthier eating habits. If you are interested in losing weight and have a history of disordered eating, you may want to check in with your doctor first. Because when it comes to healthy eating, what works for some may not work for others, and it’s important that you’re comfortable with the eating decisions you’re making.

1. I put the leftovers away.

Most of my meals were healthy—the biggest problem for me was that I couldn’t stop eating them. I’d divvy myself a serving, then 100 percent of the time, I’d go back to the kitchen for more. Then, of course, since I didn’t want food to go to waste, I’d finish off the scraps on my kiddos’ plates. A few extra noodles here and some pizza crust there made for a lot of extra fluff around my waist. It had to stop. So once dinner was made, I gave myself a properly portioned serving, and if there were any leftovers, I put them away in the fridge. If it was out of sight, it couldn’t tempt me. And I started having the kids bring their own plates to the kitchen and pour any extras into the compost bin. This was probably the hardest change of all to embrace, but after a week, this new habit felt much easier. And I felt lighter and more energetic, too.

2. I cut back on dairy.

As a vegetarian, I ate so much dairy. Cheese was a part of every single dinner I made, and because of that, my go-to meals—like pizza, paninis, homemade mac and cheese, and quesadillas—were not so healthy. So when I gave up dairy, it forced me to make new, healthier options that were veggie-based like stir-fries, roasted veggies with rice and beans, soups, and amazing salads. It increased the fiber intake of my dinners, so I actually felt more full and satisfied after those meals than I ever did after a few slices of pizza. No dairy meant eating lower-calorie dinners, and that made a huge difference on the scale.

3. I closed the kitchen after dinnertime.

For some reason, I couldn’t stop eating once I started eating dinner. Even after that second helping and devouring my kids’ extra bites, I always sat down to a little dessert. A little bowl of soy ice cream with sliced bananas or some chocolate chips with almonds was my favorite. I started serving fresh fruit with dinner so after finishing our avocado pasta and tomatoes with sautéed tofu or sweet potato and black bean burritos, we could nosh on some sweet melon, strawberries, or grapes and satisfy that sweet tooth. So once I started putting the leftovers away at dinnertime, and we finished eating and the dishes were done, the kitchen was closed.

Originally written by Jenny Sugar, POPSUGAR Fitness

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