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CNN’s Melina Jampolis offers 14 healthy ways to cut the calories and slim up – – without killing yourself in the process.

[From CNN Health]

Losing weight and getting healthy isn’t easy, but it’s often the little things that add up over time. Here are some things you may want to avoid and some you should include in your diet if your resolution is to lose weight and feel fine in 2009.

1. Sideline the salad dressing

A quarter-cup of dressing equals 25 to 30 grams of fat. If you eat three salads with dressing per week, that is the equivalent of a stick of butter per week (52 sticks of butter per year), which can not only increase your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, it could lead to a 12-pound gain. Instead, keep dressing on the side, and dip your fork in it before every bite.

2. Say no to cheese and mayo

They may not seem that relevant, but if you have a tablespoon of mayo and a slice of cheese on your sandwich five days a week, you could gain almost 15 pounds a year! Go for mustard or even hummus to add flavor.

3. Limit sugar-filled juices, “waters” and sodas

Drinking just three 16-ounce drinks per week equals 52 extra cups of sugar (or 23 pounds of sugar) per year and could lead to an 11.5-pound gain.

4. Watch out for hidden sugars

You may think you are being healthy by eating breakfast cereal, fruit-flavored yogurt, smoothies and even spaghetti sauce, but you may be getting an extra 20 teaspoons of sugar each day with these types of food if you aren’t careful.

5. Cut down on fast food

Even “healthier” items like salads are loaded with salt and fat. And some moderate-calorie items like a breakfast biscuit sandwich have more than five times the suggested upper limit of trans fats, the absolute worst kind for your heart. In addition, 77 percent of the salt in our diet comes from processed and fast food, not the salt that we add to food.

So resolve to cut back on fast food and save yourself thousands of calories, artery-clogging grams of fat and blood pressure-raising milligrams of salt.

6. Mix fresh with frozen

Frozen meals are super-convenient but often loaded with salt and sometimes even deadly trans fats. So make sure to include fresh food (especially fruits and vegetables that are high in potassium) with frozen whenever possible so the potassium can balance out the damaging effects of the salt. And be sure to avoid trans fats as much as possible: Look on the ingredient list for the words “partially hydrogenated,” and if it is anywhere near the top of the list, skip that food.

7. Go slightly nuts

Nuts used to be on most dieters’ “no-no” list, but they are a great food to include if you are trying to lose weight and get healthy. They can help you lose weight, reduce cholesterol and reduce your risk of diabetes. Just make sure to keep portions under control. And nut butter is OK, too.

To find out what the other 7 steps are, click here!

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