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Simple ideas for cutting fat and calories

Trying to improve your overall health with a better diet? Controlling portions and learning what to add and subtract are keys to success, says Jean Alves, RD, MS, LDN, a dietitian at Rush University Medical Center. Here, she outlines small changes that can make a big difference.

1. Cut down on cheese.

America's consumption of cheese has soared, driven in part by good intentions to eat less meat. "The problem is, cheese is such a concentrated source of fat and calories," Alves says. "Just one ounce of cheddar cheese — about the size of a tube of lipstick — has around 100 calories and nine grams of fat, which add up quickly."

2. Reduce sugary drinks.

These include sports drinks, fruit juice and soft drinks. A 20-ounce cola can have 65 grams of sugar and 240 calories, Alves says. "Drink one less soda a day, and you'd lose two pounds within a month," she notes.

3. Add fruits and veggies.

Setting a goal to eat more fruits and vegetables is the most powerful dietary way to lose weight, according to Alves. Plant foods are filling and typically low in calories and fat. Eating more of them helps replace higher-calorie foods. "Plus, it's psychologically easier to add things to your diet instead of subtract things," she says.

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