Ever notice that some people seem able to maintain a healthy weight with no effort required? What you may not realize is that they make smart choices throughout the day to help them stave off those extra pounds. You, too, can keep your body trim by making some simple lifestyle changes.

Tara Coleman, CN, a San Diego-based clinical nutritionist whose focus is on disease prevention through healthy eating choices, offers these easy-to-incorporate "skinny habits" that can make a big difference in how you look and feel.

Skinny Habit #1Skip the fad diets

While you may be tempted to try drastic measures when you need to lose some extra weight, fad diets serve to slow your metabolism, undermine your self-esteem, and set you up for failure. For any eating plan you're considering, Coleman says to ask yourself if you can stick to it for life. If not, it's probably not a good choice.

Skinny Habit #2: Think small

Make small lifestyle changes—rather than drastic ones—since these will be easier to stick with over the long term. For instance, Coleman says that it's often better to walk 15 minutes a day every day rather than doing an excessive workout that wears you out so much that you don't repeat it again for quite a while. The key is being consistent for best results.

Skinny Habit #3: Consistently fuel your body

Think strategically when cutting calories to make sure you shave them evenly throughout the day. Coleman points out that many dieters make the mistake of eating very low calorie in the morning and as a result, they end up being so hungry later in the day that they binge and end up taking in even more calories. "Instead, make sure you are getting a good amount of calories at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks so you aren't famished at night," she says.

Skinny Habit #4: Be careful of "diet" foods

Be wary of low-calorie or sugar-free versions of your favorite foods. Some people mistakenly believe that they can eat unlimited portions of these "diet" foods and end up eating too much of them. "I would rather people eat full calorie and naturally sweetened versions of food and focus on the portion," Coleman explains. "It may seem more fun to have large amounts of artificially sweetened food but you will find that the real stuff is much more enjoyable and actually satisfies you more."

Skinny Habit #5: Eat mindfully

Eat slowly so you'll know when you've had enough. Many people feel compelled to eat the amount of food they are served, even if it's more than the recommended portion size, says Coleman. Therefore, it can help to become aware of how you feel as you eat, and as soon as you're satisfied, save the rest of your meal to enjoy later.

Skinny Habit #6: Pay attention to portions

Enjoy your favorite munchies, but buy them in portion-controlled packages so you won't eat more than you intend. Pre-portioned packets of nuts or a healthy granola bar can also be great to carry with you in case hunger strikes, so it will be easier to skip fast-food and high-fat options.

Skinny Habit #7: Stay hydrated

Coleman points out that people often mistake thirst for hunger, so drinking enough can help you stay satisfied with fewer calories. "Try to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day," says Coleman. She adds that if you get sick of just water, try flavoring it with some fresh fruit or favored tea for some extra flavor. It's also wise to avoid soda and sugary drinks since these can backfire, making you feel hungrier, which can cause you to eat more.

Skinny Habit #8: Consume alcohol in moderation

A good rule of thumb is to drink an extra glass of water for every glass of alcohol, says Coleman. This will help you fill up sooner so you'll drink less, and can also help to minimize alcohol's dehydrating after-effects.

Tara Coleman, CN, reviewed this article.