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Six ways for you to achieve healthier meals

You do not have to meal-prep a week ahead or order special meal boxes in order to eat healthy. Whether you are dining at home or eating out, these simple tips can help you achieve a healthier meal.

Eat only when you are hungry

Sounds simple, but many of us are often tempted to eat when we are bored, distracted or idling around. Watching TV is often accompanied with a snack in hand. It might seem like you are not consuming much in each sitting, but the calories all add up.

It is even harder to resist eating when there is good food laid on the table, even when you are full. Try to listen to your body's cues to find out when you are truly hungry and when you are actually just greedy.

Have a cup of water or a bowl of soup first

We do not recommend liquid diets, but having liquids helps to fill your stomach fast.

We are not promoting suppressing hunger with water, but having a small drink before eating can help you determine if you are actually hungry or not.

Use a reasonably sized plate

When you use a large plate, you're going to eat a large portion because you will want to pile food onto the plate for it to look like a substantial meal. Use a smaller plate, so it gets filled up more easily. This is one easy way to portion control.

Greens first, meat second, grains last

Following the usual serving recommendations of vegetables, meat and carbs is an easy way to stay on track. Fill half your plate with greens and the other two quarters with lean meat and a healthy grain. This will help you to eat a balanced meal every time.

Have some fruits if you need a dessert

No need to ignore your sweet tooth and dessert cravings. Instead of depriving yourself, opt for a healthier option. Chilled sweet fruits can be as refreshing as a cone of ice cream or a slice of cake, and you will not feel sluggish or bloated after eating.

Take time to digest

Many diet experts say that your body takes about 20 minutes to digest food. If you have had your usual portion but are still feeling hungry, wait for a while before going for seconds. You may find that you have stopped craving for the extra serving you thought about earlier.

This article was first published in Shape (