It's one of the cardinal rules of calorie-counting: Chew your food slowly, and you'll feel full faster.
That's always been a challenge for me, a bad habit ingrained since childhood.
As kids, my brother and I ate quickly to avoid dinnertime how-was-your-day-interrogations by our mother. Those meals were the original "fast food," long before a McDonald's ever raised its golden arches on Brainerd Road.
As an adult at work, scarfing down lunch at my desk was the norm. As a mother of teenagers, dinners were frequently just pit stops between sports games for one or both sons playing that day.
If I'd known this tip then, I might have slowed down. Studies have proven that women who chewed at least 20 times before swallowing ate up to 70 calories less at mealtime. My first reaction: 20 times! What mother has time for that?
That and several other facts were part of an email list of calorie-counting tips put together by a website called Fitbie.com. The tips are all fat burners you can do without stepping foot inside a gym. The premise is to mix-and-match the ones most suited to your lifestyle to cut calories.
* Swap a bagel for an English muffin to slash 220 calories.
* Try a glass of skim milk instead of whole to save 70 calories.
* Exchange a serving of pork sausage for turkey sausage to cut about 125 calories.
* Trade a cup of granola, which can have up to 600 calories, with a cup of high-fiber cereal, which has only about 120.
* Walk during your lunch hour for five days, and burn 500 extra calories.
* Use hummus or mustard instead of mayo, and sub a roll for sliced bread on your sandwich, and cut about 200 calories.
* Opt for a salad instead of fries to save 300 calories.
* Downsize your dinner plates. Going from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate will cut 500 calories without leaving you feeling deprived.
* Wait 20 to 30 minutes to have a second helping. If you do opt for seconds, you're more likely to get a smaller helping because hunger won't be driving your appetite.
* Trade a side of traditional potato salad for sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions tossed with fat-free Italian dressing to cut 258 calories.
* Save up to 400 calories by making grilled fruit kebabs for a dessert. Slice one peach and one small banana into quarters, thread four pieces of fruit each onto two skewers, and brush with one tablespoon honey each. Grill each side for about 4 minutes, or until flesh is tender but still firm. Sprinkle on cinnamon.
* Replace oil with applesauce when baking, and save 160 calories.
* Top a dessert with a dollop of light whipped topping instead of vanilla ice cream to save 220 calories.
* Leaving a quarter of a restaurant meal on your plate can save up to 500 calories. Leaving a few bites of any potato or noodle dish cuts up to 100 calories.
* Swapping water for soda can save you about 300 calories a day if you drink two cans.
* Don't eat and watch. People who snack in front of the television consume an average of 288 extra calories a day because they're eating mindlessly.
* Doing some kind of cardio during commercials, such as jumping rope or jogging in place, burns about 10 calories a minute.
* Spend two hours cleaning your garage or vacuuming and dusting the house to slash about 408 calories.
* Spend an afternoon food shopping and unloading groceries to burn close to 500 calories. Cook dinner to burn 136.