03/02/2012 05:32 pm ET

National Nutrition Month -- Easy Tips to Lose Weight This March 2012

Who doesn't want a magic diet pill to shed that extra holiday or stress-related weight gain? Unfortunately, weight loss issues can't be solved with a quick fix. Over time, low-carb diets lead to ketosis, where the body starts making acidic, damage-inducing ketones. Detox diets used to "remove toxins" may be unsuccessful and can have negative side effects. Extreme low-calorie diets can lead to muscle wasting. Finally, many people are obsessed with trying new health trends and extreme workouts that promise to melt away the pounds. Although I do recommend certain supplements for optimal health, I know that there is no single ingredient or pill that will solve all weight loss issues. The month of March is designated as National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with the special theme: "Get Your Plate In Shape." Throughout my years as a nutritionist, I've used this basic guideline, expressing to my clients that there are easy ways to create a balanced meal on a "plate in shape."

My basic principle is: Eat fewer calories than you expend from a wide variety of nutritionally powerful foods to lose weight and enhance energy and health.

  • Mindful eating and portion control help to curb overeating. Many people don't recognize correct, healthy portions. For example, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, but using more than two teaspoons is unnecessary!
  • Throw away the salt shaker and use spices to liven up your recipes.
  • Use smaller, colorful plates! When your meal fills up your plate, you'll feel satisfied -- as if your portions are larger than they are. Listen to your body and reformat your eating to put healthy habits into place.
  • Don't finish your plate if you aren't hungry. Pack up the leftovers and put them in your fridge. When eating out, have the waiter bag up half of your meal before serving it to you.
  • At home, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of your plate with protein, and one-quarter of your plate with whole-grain carbs.
  • Enjoy smaller meals throughout the day. Small meals and two snacks keep your body's energy up.
  • Exercise is essential! The energy equation says that calories consumed minus calories expended equals your intake each day. Exercise plays a large role in boosting your mood, keeping your cardiovascular system pumping and burning calories. Adding exercise will have a positive effect on both your body and your mind. Find a workout routine that works for you! Make sure to switch up your regular workouts so that different muscles are always challenged. Find a workout buddy or a class that will keep you motivated.
  • Keep a glass or BPA-free water bottle with you at all times. Drinking water helps to keep you hydrated, adds a nice glow to your skin and makes your body lean.
  • Treat yourself in moderation! Try to find healthy alternatives to the unhealthy foods that you love. Or, allow a portion-savvy amount of them here and there -- avoiding your guilty pleasures entirely may just cause you to binge when you finally allow yourself a little taste.

Weight loss and proper nutrition can be a challenge. Using appropriate portion guidelines, getting exercise, and keeping stress at a minimum will help you to reach a healthy weight. Continued healthy eating and nutritious decisions will ensure proper weight maintenance. Take charge and "Get Your Plate in Shape!"

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