Eating yourself thin

The next time you walk down the street, look up from your smartphone and do some people watching. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine published today, almost every other male and every third female you're eyeing will be overweight or obese.

In this study, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine analyzed the latest data of more than 15,000 adult men and women, which is a representative sample of Americans, and estimated that about 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight, and more than 35 percent of the folks in this country fall in the larger (pun intended) obese category.

Even though it looks like we are losing the battle with the bathroom scale, ironically, a recent survey by the International Food Information Council uncovered that Americans are concerned about their weight and trying to make changes in their diet.

Here are the top three dietary changes Americans are doing and why these changes can actually help you lose weightif you do all of them:

1. Eating Smaller Meals and Snacks

More than 65 percent of those surveyed are consuming smaller portions. This is a smart move, as research shows that the average size of a dinner plate has increased by almost 23 percent – from about 9 1/2 inches to about 12 inches – since the 1900s. Let's face it: The bigger the plate, the more you'll pile on and the more you'll eat.

Diet Trick: Join the Small Plate Movement and eat off a salad plate, rather than a dinner plate, at your main meal daily.

2. Drinking Water or Low- and No-Calorie Beverages

More than 75 percent of those surveyed are cutting back on their consumption of sugary beverages. This is another sweet move. The latest from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee Report is that sweetened beverages are not only the No. 1 source of added sugars in our diets, but that these not-so-sweet beverages also contribute over 6 percent of our daily calorie intake. Cutting your calories by more than 5 percent daily by switching to drinking no-calorie water can painlessly shrink your waist in the long run. If you need more incentive, a study uncovered that folks who drank about 2 cups of water before their meals lost more weight than those who didn't. More importantly, only the water gulpers were able to keep the weight off a year later.

Diet Trick: Bottoms up (on water) before your meals and throughout the day.

3. Changing the Types of Foods Eaten

Over 80 percent of those surveyed are trying to eat more fruits and veggies. Another ringer move. Produce is waist-friendly because it's full of fiber and water, so it will "fill you up before it fills you out." Filling half your plate with mostly low-calorie veggies and some fruit will crowd out higher calorie foods – like meat – at the meal.

Diet Trick: Eat a low-calorie, veggie-packed salad as your first course in order to stuff yourself silly and outsmart your stomach. With a full stomach, you will be better armed to eat less of what is on your plate and also less likely to go hunting for seconds.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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