Healthier Dining Options
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I don't know about you all, but I absolutely despise eating healthy. Just give me a pizza, a coke, and some cheesy bread and I'm a happy girl. But - eating that way my freshman and sophomore year of college led to me gaining, well, a significant amount of weight. I have tried many diets since then, and have found that just making healthier choices is the easiest things for me to do.

Here are a few things you can try to help keep the extra pounds off.

1. Try whole wheat pasta.

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We get it, the "regular" pasta is cheaper and there's more fun shapes and sizes to choose from, but exchanging it for whole wheat pasta can be very beneficial.

Whole wheat pasta has all of the goodies, like fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein. It's counterpart, the white pasta, does not have these things, as it is more refined and processed.

Bonus: this concept also works for bread, too!

2. Drink sparkling water instead of soda.

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Before you throw your shoe at me for saying that La Croix is the best thing on earth, let me ask you this: have you even tried it?

La Croix has absolutely changed the game for me and my health. I used to drink at least one soda everyday, and all of that extra sugar added up real fast. I switched to flavored sparkling water, and the craving for soda has completely left my body (along with a few extra pounds, too).

Give it a try next time you want something with a little carbonation. You'll thank me later.

3. Cook instead of going out.

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This may be difficult if you live in dorms and do not have access to any cooking facilities. But, if you live on your own and/or you have access to a kitchen - get to cooking.

Cooking at home not only saves tons of dollars, it saves you lots of calories as well. When you prepare and cook your own meals, you have 100% control of what goes into them. If the recipe calls for extra salt - skip it. Find a seasoning that you like that is low sodium and use that instead. Bake or grill your chicken instead of frying it. Eat your veggies, but don't down them in salt and butter.

Find what you like to eat and change it up every now and then. If you can't cook, that's not an excuse! In a world where you can learn how to do anything and everything on the internet, there are sites that simplify the process and allow you to become Gordon Ramsay at the flip of a pancake.

4. Eat off a smaller plate.

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This sounds weird, I know. But hear me out, when you load on the food, you're probably going to fill most of the plate. If you eat with a smaller plate, you are eating a smaller serving, and you are also less likely to overeat. Boom. Mind blown.

5. Don't skip breakfast.

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Although it may be tempting to sleep that extra 10 or 15 minutes, eating breakfast is actually better for you than you would think. Not only does it provide you with the energy you need to start your day, it also jump starts your metabolism - which is a huge plus.

6. Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.

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Even if you're juicing the fruit yourself, actually eating fruit has way more benefits. Whole fruit has skin and pulp, which houses all the good stuff, such as fiber, potassium and folic acid.

Processed fruit juices that you buy at your favorite grocery store contain ridiculous amounts of added sugars and sweetness, even if they claim otherwise. It's always better to choose an orange over a glass of orange juice.

7. Ditch the iceberg lettuce.

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Iceberg lettuce is so boring. It is literally nothing but water, has no flavor, and, TMI but it makes me burp like crazy.

Instead of iceberg lettuce, choose a darker, leafy green for your salads and tacos. Romaine lettuce, arugula, kale and spinach are all awesome (and flavorful) options to substitute for your bland iceberg.

8. Choose brown rice over white.

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Brown rice, similar to the whole pasta thing I was talking about earlier, has all the good stuff inside. White rice, on the other hand, is stripped of those essential nutrients, such as fiber and protein.

9. Ditch the red meat.

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Leaner meats like chicken and turkey contain more protein and less fats than their friends, the pig and cow.

Or, you could save the animals altogether and become vegan or vegetarian! Just make sure that you are still getting the nutrients that you would be getting from meats.

10. Take home leftovers.

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If you do end up eating out, don't force yourself to eat everything that is in front of you in fear of wasting it.

When your meal is brought out to you, ask for a to-go box as well. Put half of your food in the box, and eat the other half. You'll be surprised when you can't even finish the half that is in front of you.

11. Don't scarf down your food.

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I get it, you're super hungry and/or in a rush. But - when you eat fast instead of taking the time to enjoy and actually taste what you are eating, you end up eating more.

How do you think Europeans eat like 2934 meals a day and stay so thin? Their dinners last several hours, which gives them time to really enjoy what they are eating.

I'm not saying spend 5 hours eating a 7 course meal every night, but at least slow down a bit.

12. Eat at the dinner table.

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Eating in front of the television can lead to overeating, which is not good for your health. Instead, sit at the dinner table and eat more traditionally. I know, it's comfortable to watch The Office for the 87th time while eating your spaghetti, but you're probably just shoveling food into your mouth without even being hungry anymore.

13. Go to the grocery store after a meal.

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If you're hungry when you get your food for the week, you're more likely to mindlessly add things to your shopping cart that you don't need - which also leads to overspending. Save some money, and calories, too, by going shopping after you enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.

14. Choose dark chocolate.

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Maybe you don't like chocolate at all, and that's okay too. Dark chocolate is much better for you than milk chocolate, and if you get a really good one, it won't be bitter at all.

Also, believe it or not, dark chocolate has many health benefits as well, such as improving blood flow and brain function, and it may even reduce your risk of heart disease. It is super nutritious and filled with protein and fiber.

Next time your monthly friend has you craving chocolate, try some dark chocolate instead!

I hope that you try these tips, and find them useful. I have been making these lifestyle changes myself and already I have noticed a huge difference in both my appearance and my energy levels!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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