8 habit changes that could make your 2018 healthier

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(CBS) -- Is weight loss or a healthier lifestyle part of your 2018 New Year's resolutions? If so, CBS News found some simple habit changes that will have you on your way to achieving your goals in the new year.

1. Start off with a protein-filled breakfast
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day, and studies have shown that eating a breakfast that has a lot of protein helps people eat less throughout the day.

"This is not because it was a purposeful restriction," Roberta Anding, RD, a sports nutritionist for Rice Athletics and the Houston Astros, said. "It's just a decreased hunger response."

Experts recommended adding Greek yogurt or eggs into your diet to add the extra protein punch.

"It's really easy to just take six to eight eggs and some leftover vegetables and put them in a muffin pan and bake them. Now, you've got these crustless egg muffins that will last for a week in your refrigerator," Anding said.

High-carb options like bagels are dense and calories and could leave you feeling hungry again in a couple hours, experts warned.

2. Don't eat mindlessly
"Food needs its own time and space," Anding said. "If you're watching a sports game or a great movie, sometimes you won't even appreciate the food you're eating and you're just putting your hand to mouth because it's there."

Try not to eat food when you're not expressly thinking about it—that means putting down the popcorn when watching TV or a movie. Anding suggested chewing sugar-free gum instead.

"The reason for that is you've got to take it out of your mouth before popcorn in, so it gives you one second to ask if you're hungry and if you really want it," Anding said.

3. Make and use a grocery list
Set yourself up for healthy choices at the grocery store by having a plan of what you want to buy—and stick with it.

"Also, schedule in when you are going to go food shopping so it actually happens," Anding said.

Don't go to the store hungry! Avoid impulse buys, including junk food or food you won't eat or don't need.

4. Drink more water
Staying hydrated is always a plus, but drinking more water can actually help control your weight. The stomach doesn't have a way of sensing calories, but there is a volume sensor—that means drinking a few glasses of water can trick your body into thinking you're full.

In a Virginia Tech study, researchers found that people who drank two cups of water right before eating a meal actually took in between 75 and 90 calories fewer during the meal. You can also take in fewer calories by sipping vegetable broth or tea with lemon before a meal.

5. Expand your diet by trying new foods
"Our tastes change, especially if we're open-minded and aren't fearful of exploring new tastes and textures of healthy cultural foods," Nancy Farrell, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CBS News.

When you try new and healthy foods, you can spice up your routine and open doors for new ways that healthy meals and snacks can play into your everyday diet.

6. Use smaller plates
Research has found that the majority of people eat about 90 percent of the food in front of them, regardless of the size of plate it's on. Moving from a 9-inch dinner plate to an 8-inch dinner plate can make a difference in how much calories you eat in a meal.

"Psychologically, you're not going to feel deprived because you have a complete plate of food," Anding said. "It's just that the geography is a little bit different than it was before."

7. Don't eat snacks straight out of the package
Use your smaller plates for snacks as well. Portioning before you begin eating will help you avoid more mindless eating, and you may even savor each bite more.

"Even an apple, slice it, sprinkle cinnamon and put on plate," one expert recommended. "You will eat slower and more mindfully."

8. Stop drinking sugary beverages
Studies have linked sugary drinks to increased risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even early death.

"For so many folks I take care of, sugar-sweetened beverages occupy about 500 calories a day," Anding said.

While you may consider soda the primary sugary beverage, the category also includes sweet tea, flavored coffees and sports drinks like Powerade or Gatorade. Instead of drinking these, try sparkling water enhanced with fruit, or lower calorie alternatives.