Many of us carry a little extra weight, and that weight puts a strain on our hearts and affects our overall health. Losing weight can be challenging and requires changing ingrained habits and making healthy choices without feeling deprived. Eating mindfully, and not on the run, is helpful, as is listening to your body and eating when you’re hungry.

Here are five strategies that are proven to work in helping to lose those extra pounds:

1) Since home-cooked food is generally lower in calories, salt and fat, take time to prepare home cooked meals. Plan menus and shop carefully for convenient and nutritious foods like precut vegetables and cooked whole grains; stock up on healthy snacks like fruit, nuts and low-fat cheeses.

2) Eat slowly. Research indicates that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register the “I’m full” message, so try and spend at least 20 minutes between your first bite and your last.

3) Spread your calories out as evenly as possible throughout the day. Aim to eat several small meals and snacks consisting of fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein, and drink water regularly to stay hydrated. Skip or minimize caffeinated drinks and alcohol.

4) Get enough sleep. The recommendation for adults is seven to nine hours per night. People who sleep less also tend to have irregular eating habits and consume more unhealthy snacks.

5) Weigh yourself weekly and keep a record. It’s not always easy to track food consumption but stepping on the scale is a sure fire way to see if you’re staying on track with your weight-loss goals.