The New Year has only just begun and already thousands of well-intentioned dieters will have fallen off the slimming wagon. If the fad diets aren't working for you, here are some surprisingly easy changes you can make that could help you shift those excess pounds.
Eat at home
To kickstart your slimming, stay at home and cook. Unless you're fine dining, many modern restaurants serve increasingly large portions, and reading that menu is more likely to tempt you towards high fat, high calorie foods and sweet treats.
It takes your brain around 20 minutes to get the message that your stomach is full, which is why so many of us overeat these days. Take it slowly by sipping water often, and if it helps, put down your cutlery between each bite. When you're eating more slowly, you're more likely to notice when you're really full.
Science has proven that the colour blue acts as an appetite suppressant. While it's unlikely you'll make your food blue, you could switch to blue plates or table cloths for your dining area.
Research has also shown that people who ate meals in front of mirrors ate almost one-third less than those who did not. By looking yourself in the eye, you're more likely to remember why you started that diet plan in the first place.
Dieting is tough and it's all too easy to fall victim to negativity. Instead of focusing on how hard it is to resist that portion of chips or chocolate bar, stay positive and tell yourself, 'I can do without dessert,' or, 'I will lose weight.'
Calorie counting is all very well, but how many of us are truly honest about what we consume? If you're not losing weight despite cutting the calories, add 10 per cent to the number you think you're consuming - it's probably more realistic, and will allow you to adjust to the new figure.
You might need that wake-me-up glass of OJ with your breakfast, but once the first meal of the day is over, stick to water. There are 45 calories in a 100g glass of juice, and 139 in a can of cola. It quickly mounts up.
Spread your chores
Instead of spending an hour of your evening watching a TV show that's really just filling in time, do a household chore. The average 150-pound person can burn as much as 120 calories while cleaning, whether that's the bathroom, kitchen floor or windows.
Take a walk
A study by Duke University found that while 30 minutes of walking each day will help to prevent weight gain, upping that to just 45 minutes will actually start to shift it. A brisk 45-minute walk could mean you're burning as much as 300 calories a day.
Read your labels
Don't just look for the calorie count when you're in the supermarket. It's often the fats, fructose and other sugars that are the real problem. As a rule, the shorter the ingredients list, the fewer empty calories. If you're unsure, opt for a home-cooked meal instead.
If you always seem tempted to go back for seconds, up the fibre ratio in your meals. It's simply a case of bulking up your meals with plenty of high-fibre veggies that won't add loads of calories but will leave you feeling full.
An active social life
If the movies or a drink at a bar are your standard choices when it comes to going out with friends, suggest something more active, particularly if others are trying to lose weight. It doesn't have to be high-intensity exercise - just switch to a walk in the park, a bike ride or even bowling.
Avoid large groups for dinner
Research published in the Journal of Physiological Behaviour revealed that eating with a large group of people makes us more likely to overeat. Stick to quiet dinners with your partner or family, and chat about your day as you eat.
Eat high-water foods
From courgettes to cucumbers, water-rich foods help us to eat fewer calories in a meal, so go for soups and salads, and make sure there are plenty of hydrating veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and tomatoes.
Spice it up
A little heat goes a long way when it comes to dining. Spicy seasonings mean your low-cal meals won't be bland, and they won't add fat.
Specifically milk. Switching from whole milk to semi-skimmed could cut the calorie content by around 20 per cent, the same again if you go to skimmed. Once you've got used to the taste you'll benefit from reduced calories and fat.
Take a break
For those stuck at a desk all day, make your five-minute break count by walking. It might not seem worth it, but if you walk for five minutes every two hours during the working day, it'll add up to an extra 20 minutes at the end of the day.
Get the small plates out
Standard dinner plates are bigger than they used to be, and it's natural to fill them when you're serving up an evening meal. Switch to smaller, salad-sized plates and you'll be controlling the portion without your plate looking empty.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so don't skip it. But do go for a high-fibre cereal like porridge or muesli. Studies have shown that people who eat cereal for breakfast every day are significantly less likely to be obese. Just stay away from the high-sugar varieties.
Write it down
A food diary is a great way to find out where you might be going wrong, and research shows that people who keep track of their eating habits this way cut their consumption by about 15 per cent compared to those who don't. Write it all down for a week - you might be surprised.
Have you made small changes that have helped you to lose weight? Leave your comments below...