Hungry Girl: Easy Tricks To Help Slim Down For Summer

04/21/2014 at 02:41 PM ET

Hungry Girl Swimsuit Diet Tips
Courtesy Hungry Girl

Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of nine books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.

Most of us aren’t being snapped by celebrity photographers at the beach (thank goodness!), but we still want to look good on vacation. If you’re feeling a little worried about swimsuit season — which is fast approaching! — here are a few tricks that can help you look your best.

Stop Drinking Your Calories. Sugary sodas, oversized smoothies, sweet coffee drinks… they’re all full of empty calories, and more than you might think! Simply cutting out drinks like these can seriously reduce your calorie intake and help shed some pounds. Need a soda swap? Carbonated flavored waters are fantastic and calorie-free. More of a smoothie fan? Keep ‘em light and right! Crave decadent coffee drinks? Click for tips!

Don’t Make Foods Off-Limits. We all have our weaknesses. The trick is not to deprive yourself — which could lead to a junk-food bender — and find lighter substitutes for the things you gotta have. Crave burgers and wings? Try fat-slashed meatless versions. More of a chocolate fiend? This whoopie pie is just what you need!

Outsmart the Exercise Trap. The key is finding something that’s both realistic and enjoyable for you personally. Otherwise, you’ll probably scrap your whole plan in a matter of weeks. So don’t swear you’ll start running five miles each morning if you haven’t jogged since Miley Cyrus was Hannah Montana. Whether it’s walking on the treadmill while catching up on TV shows, taking a brisk walk with your furry BFF (dogs need exercise, too!), or just dancing it up on a Friday night, the point is to MOVE more. Every little bit counts.

Learn What a Portion Looks Like. Newsflash! Most of us don’t realize we’re overdoing it when it comes to portion sizes. Look at the nutritional panels, and you might discover that the true “serving size” is significantly smaller than what you’ve been dishing out. Always check labels for the serving size and the servings per container — that seemingly single-serving bag of chips could easily contain 2.5 servings. Also teach yourself to eyeball common portion sizes. A 4-oz. serving of meat (keep it lean!) will be about the size of your palm, and a serving of cooked pasta will be about a cup (yup, just one cup!).

‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!

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