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Healthy Pantry Staples and Eating Tips

The Rebucci crew, our 2011 Healthy Family, has been eating better and exercising more for six solid months now. It seemed like a good time to check in with Marc and Lisa, for their in-the-trenches takes on what's helping them meet their goals. What they have to say can help you too.

By Regina Ragone

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Lisa and Marc Rebucci
Rhea Anna
By Bryan McCay
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1. "It takes two."

Marc and Lisa are first to admit that replacing old habits with new ones, like saying "no" to an extra scoop of ice cream or hitting the gym after a long day, isn't easy. Both noted that having each other to lean on has been key. It provides accountability, plus a healthy dose of motivation to press forward. Of course, there's no rule that the partner has to be a spouse—any reliable relative or friend can help you clear the hurdles. Chances are, someone else in your life is looking to make some positive changes as well.

2. "Portions are a big deal."

From the get-go, the Rebuccis confessed that they tended to supersize their portions. Scaling down just how much goes on their plates has been their most significant change to date. A simple math lesson on the appropriate ratios of a meal—1/4 lean protein, 1/4 complex carbohydrates like brown rice or another whole grain, and 1/2 non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or greens—gave them the know-how they needed to create a more balanced diet. For a foolproof way to dole out perfect portions at home, order Del Monte's 9-inch pre-sectioned plate (rethinkyourplate.com, $9.95).

3. "Eat a good breakfast."

Starting the morning with a balanced meal helps curb the urge to snack throughout the day. Marc prefers an egg-white omelet with vegetables and turkey sausage—he says the protein-packed calories prevent him from scavenging for food before lunch. To mix it up a bit, I suggested oatmeal or a high-fiber cold cereal, topped with fresh fruit and skim milk. A sprinkle of chopped nuts adds an extra hit of hunger-fighting protein and good fat.

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The Right Stuff

The Rebuccis can't live without these key items in their pantry.

Kashi Autumn Wheat whole-grain cereal gets the day started with 6 satisfying grams of fiber.

Available at supermarkets, $4.50

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Chocolate-lover Lisa snacks on 80-calorie Luna Minis.

Available at Target, $12 for 18

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Crystal Light Pure keeps water—essential for weight loss—from getting boring, and at only 15 calories per serving.

Available at supermarkets, $3.25/7 packets

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Marc uses the Weber Style Vegetable Basket to grill the mountains of veggies and fish they now eat for dinners.

Available at store.weber.com, $23

Originally published in the July 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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