Looking to shed a little weight this summer? Whether it’s eating better or sticking to diet resolutions, what matters most is putting a plan in place that works best for you. Here are seven healthy food rules that can help you achieve your goals and feel great.

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  1. Eat more vegetables. At each meal, fill half your plate with a variety of colorful veggies. They are the lowest-calorie and most nutrient-dense food group, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
  2. Cook at home more often. Most prepared and restaurant foods are high in salt, fat, sugar, calories and/or unknown ingredients.
  3. Buy foods that are in season, like clementines in winter, asparagus in spring, berries in summer and apples in fall. Seasonal foods taste better and are more economical and nutritious because they travel shorter distances to your table.
  4. Choose low-fat dairy, preferably organic and/or grass-fed. The fatty acids in these dairy products will be higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which combats certain types of cancer, high blood pressure and inflammation, and omega-3s, which may lower risk of depression and heart disease, and support brain and eye health.
  5. Choose oils, such as cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids help reduce bad cholesterol in your blood, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Other good sources include nuts, seeds and avocadoes.
  6. Include foods and beverages that contain probiotics for gut health, like yogurt (with live cultures), kefir and kombucha.
  7. Drink more water and less alcohol. Hydration is important throughout the day to maintain the more than 50 percent water content in our bodies.

Layne Lieberman, R.D., C.D.N., is an award-winning educator and entrepreneur, and author of Beyond the Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets of the Super-Healthy. Follow her blog at worldrd.com.