Take It Easy on Nut Butter
Runners love peanut and almond butters, and for good reason: They offer protein, healthy fats, and fiber in a convenient package. But a serving size is two level tablespoons. "People often end up eating three tablespoons," says Dimmick. "That's an awful lot of calories."
Make Fiber Your Friend
"Multiple studies have shown that fiber is correlated to weight loss as well as weight maintenance," says Jennifer Vimbor, M.S., R.D., founder of Nutrition Counseling Services in Chicago. Fiber passes through your system undigested, so your body has to work harder and longer to move it out, which helps rev your metabolism and give you a feeling of fullness. Aim to eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day: beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. (But to keep your GI tract quiet during your run, don't eat fiber two hours before you head out.)
Keep It Away
Don't bring decadent foods into your home; it's easier to win the battle at the grocery store than at the dinner table.
Practice Long, Slow Eating
In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2011, researchers in New Zealand looked at the relationship 2,500 women had between their self-reported speeds of eating and their body mass indexes. For each step up in speed (on a five-step scale from very slow to very fast), BMI increased by 2.8 percent. By slowing down, you give your mind a chance to process that your body is full. Increase your meal splits by eschewing distraction: no computer, no television, no newspaper. "You'll become aware of every bite," Eberle says.
Go All DIY
"Throwing something together for yourself at home is almost always going to involve fewer calories than dining out," Dimmick says. "You can control the ingredients and the portion sizes." For nights you're too rushed to cook, stock your pantry and freezer ahead of time with these staples: vegetable and bean soups, a frozen vegetable pizza, brown rice you can microwave, a can of black beans and salsa (a combo of the latter three make an easy, healthy meal). In order to make a brown-bag lunch as easy as possible, double dinner recipes so that you'll have leftovers. Chili and lasagna—make them both heavy on the vegetables—are especially tasty the day after you make them.
Eat Real Food
"The more packaged and processed foods you eat, the less satisfied you feel," says Antonucci. "A half of a sandwich is a better snack than a handful of pretzels; nuts are more filling than animal crackers." Pack an apple for emergencies.
"Before you reach for a snack, make sure you're really hungry," says Eberle, who explains we often eat when we really need sleep, play, or downtime. 'You may just need to step away from your desk for 15 minutes and chill out."
What's Your Intake?
Count your calories, if only for a few days. "Most people hate doing it," Dimmick says. "But it's the only way to actually see the mindless eating over the keyboard or steering wheel or in front of the television." You can carry a small notebook and log everything or use an app: Loselt, MyFitnessPal, and MyPlate are three popular apps to track calories.
Was that really a six-miler, or was it four? Did you take an extra, unscheduled rest day? "Many runners believe they're consistent when they're not," says Tony Williams, a coach in Seattle. A surefire way to stay consistent: Follow a training plan and sign up for races. "When you have a plan, you have a way to set and reach goals so you taste success," says Briana Boehmer, a personal trainer and coach in Delafield, Wisconsin.