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5 painless ways to cut calories without giving up your favorite foods

by Jenna Wolfe / / Source: TODAY

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If the mere thought of cutting calories makes you hungry, you're not alone. The good news: You don't have to give up all the foods you love in order to lose weight. In fact, depriving yourself only leads to binges and guilt...and then the cycle repeats itself.

Cutting back on a little bit here and there quickly adds up to big changes (just like nibbles throughout the day add up to excess pounds over time). Look for ways to cut a few calories here and there each day, and you'll start to see the scale move in the right direction — all without leaving you feeling hungry and deprived.

Try these five simple tricks to get started:

 Fruit salad; Shutterstock ID 176041289; PO: Alena Haurylik / Shutterstock

1. Downsize your coffee

If you always enjoy a large-sized latte in the morning, you could be taking in a lot more calories than you think. Syrups, cream, milk and other add-ons turn a nearly zero-calorie beverage into a high-calorie drink. Stick to the basics.

2. Focus on high-water foods

Salads, fruits and vegetables contain lots of belly-filling fiber for very few calories. Plus, they take a little while to chew, so you'll have time to realize how much you've eaten. Just go easy on salad dressings.

3. Save wine for weekends only

Even though red wine is heart-healthy, a glass or two every night during the week quickly adds up to excess pounds. Save it as a treat for weekends. Replace wine with club soda and lime/lemon or find another zero-calorie beverage for weekdays.

4. Swap fresh herbs for condiments

A healthy turkey burger becomes a sugar fest if you douse it with a pile of barbecue sauce. And the same goes for adding ketchup to egg white omelets and full-fat salad dressings to a healthy lunch. Season with fresh or dried herbs for flavor instead.

5. Trade dessert for fruit and Greek yogurt

If you normally treat yourself to frozen yogurt or a handful of cookies at night, try a Greek yogurt with fresh berries instead. The protein in the yogurt will keep you full longer than a sugar-filled treat. Plus, it'll help rev your metabolism.

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