Losing weight – and keeping it off – is hard. But there are some easy tricks that can work wonders for your waistline:

  • Steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup. Researchers at Princeton University found that high-fructose corn syrup is easier for our bodies to metabolize than sugar. That means, we burn less of it for energy, so more calories end up being stored as fat. So, start reading labels and avoid foods packed with corn syrup, like sodas, baked goods, cereals, canned fruit, and salad dressings.

  • Avoid processed foods. Biochemist Dr. Paul Kenny says that junk food that’s high in sugar, salt, and preservatives causes changes in our brain’s reward centers, which are similar to those found in drug addicts. Simply put, it takes increasingly larger doses of junk food to achieve the same “food high” - which makes us more likely to overeat.

  • Don’t go more than 3 hours without eating. Nutritionist Marissa Lippert says that waiting too long between meals makes us crave high-calorie foods and larger portion sizes. The fix? Plan your meals and snacks in advance - and then stick to the schedule.

  • Shake up your food environment. Brian Wansink is the author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think." And he says using smaller plates, hiding the chocolate, and keeping "seconds" out of sight are much easier than saying you’ll eat smaller meals, and choose fruit for chocolate and French fries. And those simple tweaks can reduce calorie consumption by more than 20%.