As a registered dietitian, I’m often asked what is my #1 tip for weight loss. It’s a hard question to answer because everyone has different needs based on their lifestyle and eating habits. However, universally there are a couple healthy lifestyle changes that work for everyone. My favorite tip for those looking to shed pounds in a healthy manner is to use the plate method. Fill half your plate with vegetables (steamed, raw, canned, roasted), fill a quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables (brown rice, pasta, sweet potato, bread, quinoa), and fill the last quarter with lean protein (chicken, tofu, steak, egg, fish). Essentially this is how your plate should look:You can use this method whether you are cooking at home or eating out. It doesn’t restrict you to only eating certain foods or cutting out a good chunk of the food pyramid. Therefore, it is a method you can practice the rest of your life. I also subscribe to the 80/20 idea. Aim to eat healthy and fill your diet with nourishing, whole foods 80% of the time. These are foods that provide you with vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and fiber. Think produce, low fat dairy, lean meats, and whole grains. For the other 20% of the time, let yourself have a treat or a meal that you know isn’t the healthiest choice. For example, you may decide to go out for ice cream or you have a higher calorie meal when out with friends one night. Too much restriction can set you up for failure, and you need to be realistic. Life is full of celebrations and traditions that revolve around food that is often not the healthiest. Enjoy those times, and have a piece of cake. As a bride, you may be thinking “Lindsay, I just want to quickly lose weight for my wedding pictures.” However, that isn’t the answer. You will be much healthier in the long run if you chose to make small lifestyle changes and aim to lose 1 – 2 pounds per week instead of jumping into a highly restrictive fad diet right before your wedding. Sure, you may lose weight quickly using the restrictive method and may even achieve your goal weight for your pictures, but if you don’t learn healthy eating techniques along the way, the weight will most surely come back. And this yo-yo type weight fluctuation is not good for your health. The number on the scale is not the end all to be all. Focus on eating a well-balanced diet and being active, and you cannot go wrong. My next Fit Friday post will include a recipe to make healthier chocolate chip cookies. See you next time!