There must be 50 ways to lose your love handles

By Catharine Kaufman

As we ring in 2013, most of us carry some baggage from last year. I’m talking cottage cheese thighs, muffin tops, beer bellies.

According to a recent article in the journal Circulation, “reducing intake by 100 calories a day would prevent weight gain in 90 percent of adults by small increases in physical activity along with small changes in food intake.”

Here’s the skinny on trimming those calories that tend to creep up on us.

Brainy Breakfast Bites

For a morning jumpstart and long-lasting fuel power have a complex carb like a whole-wheat bagel, toast or muffin. Instead of slathering on fatty butter or cream cheese, swap it out with goat cheese or organic fruit preserves.

Chuck the sugary, high-cal cereals for low-fat, high-fiber, protein-packed oatmeal. Add a splash of almond milk, a drizzle of agave syrup and sprinkling of toasted walnuts, rather than cream and brown sugar.

Choose eggs soft boiled or poached rather than a cheesy omelet. Swap out oink bacon for lower fat turkey bacon, and jazz up savory breakfasts with salsa instead of sugary ketchup.

Finally, whole fruit is better than sugar-packed juice that wallops the pancreas first thing in the a.m.

Lunch Lightweights

Salad and sandwich dressings like Ranch, blue cheese and creamy Caesar made with mayo and cream-based artery-clogging monsters are best served on the side and used sparingly. Better choices are vinaigrettes with virgin olive oil or a sprinkling of Meyer lemon juice.

Lay off croutons, cheese and fatty nuts like cashews, substitute slivered almonds, toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Choose chicken, turkey, vegetarian or even lamb burgers over beef, and lose the bun! Sandwich the meat between crisp romaine leaves.

Skinny Suppers

When dining out, order a couple of appetizers instead of a heavy entrée. For sides, opt for steamed veggies or protein-dense grains like quinoa or farro, and don’t give in to the temptation of a fully-loaded baked potato stuffed with globs of butter, sour cream and crumbled bacon — probably more fattening than a heap of French fries.

Pick tomato-based Manhattan Clam Chowder over creamy New England-style, order grilled fish instead of deep-fried, choose goat cheese pizza rather than mozzarella, tomato or wine sauces over creamy ones. Chicken breasts trump bone-in chicken, lavash crackers beat bread, and olive oil is better than butter.

Unhappy Hour

Are you trying to justify the health benefits of a Pina Colada? The cocktail is liquid fat – a whopping 644 calories, despite its mother load of the essential fatty acid omega-6, protein and calcium from the coconut milk, the pineapple component giving an anti-inflammatory boost of bromelain and Vitamin C.

White Russians and Chocotinis aren’t much better, while Margaritas and Long Island Iced Teas are worse.

For skinny swigs try a Mojito, a champagne sparkler or a pale ale (light beer). Wine, whether white or red, is the most calorie-friendly libation. Fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free, this heart-healthy drink is a mere 20 calories per ounce, a 5-ounce glass only 100 calories. Another tip–sip from a champagne flute rather than a bulbous wine goblet to savor more and drink less. Cheers!

vinaigretteJust Desserts

It’s nice to end a meal on a sweet note, but most blissful bites are filled with sugar and spice and decadent vice. Easy on the whipped cream, butter cream and ice cream. Meringue trumps all of the above, same with sorbets and ices. A bowl of fresh berries with a balsamic drizzle beats them all.

Miscellaneous Fat Trimming

• Eat a salad (with light dressing) before your main course to put the skids on calorie consumption.

• Get your zzz’s. Lost sleep hinders the burning of carbs and increases cortisol production that tinkers with appetite.

• Eat a daily handful of heart-healthy nuts to keep pounds at bay.

• Beef up protein. A lean high-protein low-carb diet will prevent muscle loss while dialing-up fat loss.

• Cut coffee calories. Swap out frothy frappuccinos, lavish lattes and Irish coffees for fat-free herbal teas that warm the cockles of your heart, while energizing your soul.

For trendy or not-so-trendy recipes e-mail or check out