When I was at the mall yesterday, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in months. I must admit, I felt jealous because she’d lost 40 pounds, while my scale hasn’t budged in years because I can’t stop snacking on chips and cookies. She said her secret was adding spices to everything-even popcorn! That sounds a little kooky to me. What do you think?

I think spicing up your food could work for you, too. Many people have naturally dull taste buds, so they constantly reach for high-fat foods for better mouthfeel. But seasoned foods wake up dulled taste buds to help dieters feel satisfied on less food. In fact, studies show that people who spice things up eat an -average of 450 fewer calories daily. Season salads, rice, pasta, veggies, fish or meat (including burgers and hot dogs) with hot peppers, chiles, cumin, curry, cilantro, ginger and fresh garlic. And add zing to sweet foods with cinnamon and nutmeg. Best of all, the benefits of spices go beyond a smaller waist: Their anti-oxidants boost immunity, balance blood sugar, enhance digestion and more.

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