What's the easiest way to shave 500 calories?

Reader question: What's the easiest way to shave 500 calories from your daily diet?

Ashley’s answer: Let's start with you answering a question: Why do you want to shave 500 calories from your diet? If you're overeating by at least 500 calories, you could remove 500 calories every day—as long as you ensure that the remaining calories are good quality. But if calorie cutting backfires and results in overeating after a few weeks or even months, then you haven’t found a successful approach for lasting results. I say this because too often, I have clients who are looking for dramatic options to achieve weight loss. Did you know that shaving 100 or 300 calories while also improving the quality of your food choices and the nutrient balance can actually get you the same results—ones that are even more likely to last?

Do you know that the average person eats 580 calories a day in snacks? Click here for 16 Ways To Curb Mindless Munching.

Now that you do, back to your question. Here are some of my favorite go-to’s for shaving calories the better way:

• Swap a cup or two of 2 percent milk for unsweetened almond milk. Cup for cup, you'll save about 100 calories. If your daily latte is 16 ounces, that can translate to 200 fewer calories.

• Choose a pre-portioned ounce of dark chocolate (150 calories) versus one cup of chocolate ice cream  (280-300 calories) when you need a sweet treat. (Need a little chocolate in your life but don't want the calories that come with it? Check out our Flat Belly Diet Chocolate Desserts.)

• Skip the  8 ounces of lemonade (100 calories) and use lemon and a little liquid stevia (0 calories) in your iced tea instead of an Arnold Palmer.

• Eat a piece of fruit versus drinking a glass of juice. An orange is about 45 calories, and a 12-ounce pour of orange juice is roughly 150.

• Choose a chai latte tea bag with 8 oz unsweetened almond or almond coconut milk (30-50 calories) instead of a tall chai latte (180-220 calories).

• Choose half the portion served of a lean steak (about your palm size, 4 oz). That's about 230 calories, compared to 550 calories for the full 8-oz version.

Discover how to eat right even when eating out with these 400-Calorie Restaurant Meals.

Ashley Koff is a registered dietitian, Qualitarian, nutrition expert, and co-author of Mom Energy:  A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged (Hay House; 2011) as well as Recipes for IBS (Fair Winds Press; 2007).