7. Avoid diet soda. Artificial sweeteners are controversial. While some studies show that they don’t affect weight, other research suggests that calorie-free drinks may cause weight gain by stimulating hunger. Dr. Shemek advises avoiding them completely. “Diet sodas set the brain up for wanting more sugar, and many people get addicted to them,” she says. Plus, ordering a diet soda can make you think you’re saving calories there, so you might as well get the mac and cheese instead of a salad.
8. Experiment in the kitchen. Healthy eating is never boring if you’re jazzing up your meals with herbs and spices. They amplify any dish’s flavor and replace fat while still being just as satisfying, says research from the University of Colorado in Denver. And adding spices like red pepper flakes and cayenne has been shown to boost metabolism, helping you burn a few extra calories from your meal. So add a dash of smoked paprika in place of butter on steamed broccoli. Rather than plain roasted chicken breast, sprinkle on a variety of dried herbs, garlic powder and chili flakes. Bon appetit!