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How Small Changes Can Yield Big Weight Loss

Losing weight and eating right are always at the top of almost everyone's list of New Year's resolutions - and most of us don't stick with it.

Part of the reason is that many people go whole hog, so to speak, when dieting, totally changing what and how much they consume.

But that approach rarely works. Slow and steady and - in this case - small changes are what's needed to give you the results you want, according to registered dietician Cynthia Sass, who pans the all-or-nothing approach.

Her advice:

Replace one 24 ounce bottle of soda with water - that saves 20 teaspons of sugar daily

Over 365 days, that amounts to 7,300 teaspoons, the amount in 16 four-pound bags of sugar. Sugar adds empty calories, calories with no nutritional value, and a high intake of added sugar is tied to obesity as well as nearly every chronic disease, from type 2 diabetes to heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and even Alzheimer's.

Order your latte with skim milk instead of 2 percent -- that saves 7 grams of mostly saturated fat per day

Over 365 days, that equals 2,555 grams, the amount in 29 sticks of butter! Saturated fat is the hard fat that clogs up arteries, ups the "bad" LDL cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease. We should be eating less animal fat and more plant fats -- pair your latte with a slice of whole grain toast spread with natural peanut or almond butter, use olive oil instead of butter to saute and spread sandwiches with ripe avocado instead of mayo.

Swap a bowl of sugary cereal (1 cup) for a bowl of cooked oats (1 cup) - that boosts your fiber intake by 8 grams per day

Over 365 days, that's 2,920 grams, the amount in 5,840 fiber capsules! Most Americans only consume 50 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake. Getting enough can improve your digestive health and knock down the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Each gram of fiber you eat cancels out about 7 calories, so if we all ate 30 grams a day it would be the calorie equivalent of going for a 40 minute walk.

Trade the salt shaker for a salt-free Italian herb seasoning mix -- saving 1,115 mg of sodium a day

Over 365 days, that's 406,975 mg sodium, the amount in 172 teaspoons of salt. Excess sodium is linked to high blood pressure, which ups the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Reducing our sodium intakes to the recommended levels could result in 11 million fewer cases of high blood pressure each year.

Leave 10 percent of each meal on your plate -- saving 230 calories per day

Over 365 days, that adds up to 83,950 calories, the amount in 300 candy bars! Since 1970, our caloric intake has crept up by more than 20 percent, which has contributed to the rise in obesity. Cutting just 100 calories a day every single day is enough to lead to a 10 pound weight loss over a year's time.

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