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One study of more than 120,000 men and women who were followed for 20 years found strong links between certain foods and tendency to gain or maintain weight over the years. The results might surprise you:
Pick probiotics. Yogurt, a food loaded with probiotics—the healthy bacteria found in the digestive tract—was a super star at preventing weight gain. Each extra daily serving of yogurt prevented nearly a pound of weight gain every four years. Think of yogurt as your go-to, get slim snack.
Pass up the potato chips. Of the hundreds of foods studied, potato chips were most strongly tied with weight gain. Compared with no chips, each additional potato chip serving eaten per day was linked with nearly two pounds of weight gain every four years, regardless of anything else a person ate.
Choose fresh. Other top offenders for putting people on the weight gain train include sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, red meat, and processed meat such as smoked and cured foods. Skip these processed products; instead pick fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and nuts.
These numbers may not sound impressive . . . a couple of pounds here, a pound there . . . but health experts now realize it’s the small everyday choices that add up to keep people at a healthy weight and help them lose those extra pounds when they need to.
You read that right. Don’t read food labels. If you’re reading a lot of food labels, you’re already on the wrong track. You don’t need a label to tell you apples, broccoli, carrots, cherries, and oats are healthy. You just know they are. If you’re constantly scanning labels to count fat grams and compare calorie counts, pick simpler, whole foods instead.
Your goal? Eat no more than one or two foods with a label each day. Try plain oatmeal instead of processed cereal, for example. You can add fresh fruit and nuts to make your oatmeal delicious, and those foods don’t have labels either!
Hang out with like-minded folks to keep pounds in check. Obesity, like the common cold or the flu, can be “contagious.” The more overweight friends and family members a person has, the more likely he or she is to be overweight.
This doesn’t mean you should ditch your social circle if you have overweight friends. Instead, you need to cultivate the behaviors of “thinner-thinking” peers with your loved ones. Some ways to do this include: