Here are some eating tips that will spare you some extra pounds and help you get into that bikini for the summer, which is right around the corner!

1.  Don't rush through your meal.  Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughally .  This will make it easier for your system to digest and will also help decrease the amount of air you swallow along with your food, which inevitably leads to bloating.  This will also allow your body to give your brain the "I'm full" message sooner.  Using small utensils may also help you take smaller bites.

2.  Don't feel the need to clean your plate completely every time you sit down to a meal.  Slow down and listen to your body.  If you are full, it's time to stop eating! Eating slowly can help you recognize these signals.  You can always save any uneaten portions for snacks later or get the rest to go it you're in a restaurant.  Drinking a full glass of water before meals may also help.

3.  Be sure to include lean protein in each meal.  This will help you feel full longer and is needed for muscle growth and repair.  And, as always, 5-6 smaller meals every 3 hours instead of 3 large ones, will keep your metabolism on an even keel and you are less likely to overindulge at your next meal.

4.  Avoid eating when you are bored or stressed out! Ask yourself if you are truly hungry.  Find something to do with your hands such as a crossword puzzle, which will keep your mind busy as well.  If that fails, try drinking a big glass of water!

 5.  Try to eat all things in their proper portion size, for example, lean chicken, beef or fish should be no more than 4 ounces to equal 1 serving.  For non-fat milk or yogurt 1 cup is one serving, whole grain toast, 1 piece is one serving etc.  Check with your local health or nutrition clinic for the daily recommended intake from each food group.  These amounts can vary according to age or activity levels.

 6.  Increasing your fiber intake will help keep your digestive system moving.  Just be aware that if you increase your fiber intake you must also increase your water intake for the fiber to do it's job.  50% soluble and 50% insoluble fiber is an ideal combination.  However, getting too much of a good thing can backfire on you.  Excessive fiber consumption can cause cramps, bloating and constipation.

7.  Not all fats are created equal, so don't avoid the good fats!  3-4 tbsp of healthy fats are recommended daily.  They also aid in digestion as well as providing nutrients.  Fish oil, flax seed oil, avocados, and olive oil are great choices.