Count your chips (and crackers). No, you can’t eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it’s way too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. (Remember Oprah’s blue corn–tortilla chip confession?)
Serve and sit. Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds. Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too. A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.
Skinny up cocktails. Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices, and creamy additions turn drinks into desserts: an indulgent Mudslide can have more than 800 calories. Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice, or a squeeze of citrus; or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You’ll save up to 800 calories.
Eat less pasta. One cup of pasta is just 220 calories. But typical dinner portions at restaurants can be as much as 480% larger than that 1 cup, according to New York University research. That’s 1,056 calories. Even if you eat 2 whole cups of noodles, you’ll still save 616 calories.
Limit dinner guests. Eating with seven or more other guests can make you eat 96% more food, says John Winn, PhD, author of Mind What You Eat. That’s like doubling your dinner! Dine with fewer guests to save 500 or more calories.
Don’t clean your plate. Leave 25% of your food on the plate at every meal, says weight-loss expert Jim Bale, PhD, author of The Step-by-Step Diet. Save what’s remaining as leftovers for a yummy lunch the next day. If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you’ll cut 500 calories.