Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax.
"Sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television is an example of eating amnesia, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Malena Perdomo, RD.
Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour, or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream. Once you find that you're usually satisfied with the low-cal snack, try a cup of zero-calorie tea, suggests Perdomo.
Best Diet Tip No. 2: Enjoy your favorite foods.
"I think putting your favorite foods off limits leads to weight gain because it triggers 'rebound' overeating," says Sass.
Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, be a slim shopper. Buy one fresh bakery cookie instead of a box, or a small portion of candy from the bulk bins instead of a whole bag.
"You can enjoy your favorite foods, but you must do so in moderation," says Sass.
Best Diet Tip No. 3: Enjoy your treats away from home.
When you need a treat, Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite, suggests taking a walk to your local ice cream parlor or planning a family outing.
"By making it into an adventure, you don’t have to worry about the temptation of having treats in the house, and it is a fun and pleasurable way to make it work when you are trying to lose weight," says Krieger.
And for those times you just can't get out? Krieger stocks her kitchen with fresh fruit, which she thinks can be every bit as delicious as any other dessert.
Best Diet Tip No. 4: Eat several mini-meals during the day.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be challenging.
"Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD.
She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying as many of them as you can early in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.
Best Diet Tip No. 5: Eat protein at every meal.
Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, and thus may be the new secret weapon in weight control.
"Diets higher in protein [and] moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise, have an excellent potential to help weight loss," says University of Illinois protein researcher Donald Layman, PhD.
Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks.