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50 Ways to Lose Weight Without a Lick of Exercise

With these insider tricks, weight loss can be simple, easy to understand, and cheap or even free. Who's ready to snap an after picture?

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Get messy

Candy wrappers, fruit peels, nut shells, chicken bones: When it comes to eating messy food, it may be better to let the garbage pile up on the table rather than throwing it away as you go. Why? It makes sense that these items serve as a visual reminder as to how much you’ve eaten. You may be more inclined to say no to another crispy chicken wing or foil-wrapped chocolate treat when you see everything you’ve consumed.

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Hang out with friends of all sizes

Forget opposites attract. Researchers have long noted that people tend to gravitate toward those who are the most like them. We prefer people who share our political and religious views, who are of a similar heritage or geographic location and, it turns out, who have similar weights as we do. But if you’re overweight and trying to drop a few pounds this could work against you, according to a study published in a 2016 issue of the journal Obesity. Researchers found that dieters lost more weight when they hung out with friends with a variety of body sizes.

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Change your thoughts

If you think of eating veggies and hitting the gym as unbearable hardships, then they will always feel that way and you’ll never do them. But if you can change your mindset, you may increase your chances of success. How? Information published in a 2018 issue of Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that reframing your weight loss thoughts may help. Shifting from a “dieting” perspective to one that focused on thoughts about simply changing the way you eat may play a role in better managing weight loss efforts.

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Turn up the lights

Dim, sultry lighting may be ideal for a romantic dinner, but if you’re watching your waistline you’re going to want to brighten the place up. After all, who isn’t more self-aware in bright lighting? It stands to reason, therefore, that you may be more likely to make more nutritious choices when the so-called spotlight is on you compared to dimmer environments. 

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Ditch the diet drinks

Ordering a diet soda may seem like a good compromise between sticking to your diet and still having a beverage you love. But the artificial sweeteners used in most calorie-free drinks don’t lead to weight loss. In fact, they are actually associated with weight gain, according to animal research published in a 2016 issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 

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Outsource portion control

Portion control is one way to lose weight without exercise. But while that makes sense in theory, when you’re faced with the reality of a gallon of ice cream and a bowl, how exactly are you supposed to know how much a half-cup serving really is? Fortunately, taking the guesswork out of portion control is as easy as buying a set of dishes or containers that are calibrated to measure out a single serving of different types of foods. Another option is to buy food prepackaged into single-servings, like frozen entrees. It works: In a study published in Obesity, people who used outside measures of portion control lost considerably more weight than those who tried to figure it out on their own.  To become one of those people, try the best portion control tricks for weight loss.

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Eat in your dining room

Eat-in kitchens are great for convenience but may be not so great for your waistline, according to a small study published in a 2016 issue of Environment and Behavior. Researchers found that eating in open concept areas—like the kitchen/great room in most new homes today—make people eat more than if they were in an enclosed space.  Being able to see the extra food and having such easy access to it encourages people to eat more, even if they’d already eaten until they were full. Even better, load your plate with these fat-burning foods for more weight loss benefits!

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Dab a little vanilla on your wrists

It’s been said that certain scents like vanilla may help squash the desire to overeat. While it may work for some people, the Mayo Clinic recommends caution. They note that “the jury is still out” when it comes to whether some scents can truly lead to sustainable weight loss. Be sure to do your research about products that claim to make you slimmer through scents. Instead, consider the tried-and-true weight loss strategy of calorie reduction and increasing exercise. Sniffing your favorite scent may be nice, but the basics are a better guarantee.

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Clean your kitchen

Cluttered, messy kitchens take a toll on your sanity and your waistline, according to a small study published in a 2016 issue of Environment and Behavior. People who ate in a cluttered kitchen ate twice as many snacks as those who cleaned up their space. The thinking is that a chaotic environment can lead to vulnerabilities that foster unhealthy eating habits.

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Eat lunch with your boss

Women who ate with someone they considered “high status,” ate less than people who dined with those they saw as equals, according to Vanderbilt University researchers. “Arguably people with higher status are more weight-conscious, they’re more concerned about their own body image, and they’re more likely to practice weight-related lifestyle such as dietary habits and physical activities and control their weight,” says Lijun Song, PhD, lead author and associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “And if you are surrounded by people like that, you’re exposed to a stronger network norm of weight control. You’re more likely to become more conscious of your body weight, more likely to receive assistance with weight management, and are more likely to observe and imitate weight-control behaviors.”

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Vacation in the mountains

There’s a reason why people in Colorado may be some of the slimmest in the nation: it’s one of the steepest states in the nation. According to an Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center study published in the 2014 issue of PLoS  ONE, enlisted service members stationed at higher altitudes were less likely to become obese compared with those stationed at lower altitudes. But don’t move just yet. It might make more sense to cultivate good weight-related habits that can be taken up anywhere, like walking outdoors and managing your stress.

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Avoid pollution as much as possible

Children who live close to roadways with a high level of air pollution and are also exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to be obese than children who do not, according to a study from the University of Southern California. It’s not clear exactly why and how air pollution may be linked to obesity, but it’s never a bad idea to avoid hanging out in areas with very polluted air, like smoke-filled bars. And consider buying a filter to increase the air quality in your home.

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Turn down the thermostat

Our climate-controlled homes may be one factor in the obesity epidemic, according to a study published in a 2014 issue of the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. The scientists found that regular exposure to mildly cold weather—as would have been normal in the days before programmable thermostats—helps the human body regulate a healthy weight. Chilly air may increase your metabolism by forcing your body to work harder to cope with the changing conditions. And you don’t have to do a polar plunge or sleep in a snow cave to see results, say the researchers. Just lowering your thermostat by a few degrees or turning the shower briefly to cold can help.

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Water, on the rocks

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences notes that when you have ice water, you will burn calories in an effort to warm your body temperature up. However, it’s not by much. They note that drinking cold water versus room temperature water only burns about eight calories. But it can’t hurt to enjoy a refreshing glass of ice water, which can help keep you feeling full and hydrated.

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Take a good multivitamin

Vitamins have come under fire recently for being a waste of money but if you’re trying to lose weight, they might be worth your cash. In an older study of obese women published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that those who took a daily multivitamin lost more body fat than those who took a placebo. Why? It’s possible to be overweight yet undernourished, a state that could cause the body to crave more food as a way to get necessary nutrients.

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Buy blackout curtains

If you fall asleep to the gentle glow of your phone’s screen, the television, or even a nightlight, it’s time to find a new bedtime routine. Details from a study published in a 2019 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine notes that women who slept in the presence of artificial light were more likely to gain weight than if they didn’t. Such light includes sleeping with the television or light on as well as outdoor lighting coming through windows. It’s thought that several factors contribute to this, including light’s interference with the body’s circadian rhythm.

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Skip the antibiotics unless you really need them

The more antibiotics a person takes during their lifetime, particularly as a child, the higher their risk of obesity, according to a Johns Hopkins study. Researchers speculate that it’s because the antibiotics wipe out bad bacteria along with good bacteria, which have been shown to help prevent weight gain. If you have to take an antibiotic, just be sure to take care of your microbiome, that community of gut bugs, by taking a probiotic and eating plenty of fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

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Eat a serving of beans every day

Beans, beans the magical fruit. The more you eat the more you… lose weight? Yes, says the Mayo Clinic. They note that beans and other legumes (a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, and lentils) are a significant part of a healthy diet. “Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium,” the Mayo Clinic explains. “They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber.” Legumes are full of fiber and protein, a combo that can keep you satisfied for hours.

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Get a pet

Pets, and dogs in particular, are associated with a lower risk of obesity in their human companions, according to a 2013 study in the journal Circulation. Why? Dogs need to be walked daily and are often quite persistent in getting their owners to accompany them. But it’s not just the extra exercise, especially since 40 percent of dog owners confess to not walking their dog on a regular basis. Their soft, silky fur and unconditional love may also play a part as petting an animal may help reduce stress and depression, two other known risk factors for weight gain, the researchers added.

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Swap dinner plates for salad plates

A quick fix to the portion problem is to simply use smaller dishes in an effort to lose weight without exercise. Try using a salad plate instead of a larger plate or a cereal bowl instead of a mega-sized one. With a smaller area to work with, you’ll be less inclined to fill up on extra calories.

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Buy organic

Organic food may not have more vitamins than conventionally grown food, but it may offer a health advantage: No pesticides. Some pesticides are known “endocrine disruptors,” meaning they interfere with your body’s metabolism by mimicking, blocking, or otherwise interfering with the body’s natural hormones, according to a 2015 report issued in Endocrine Reviews. The researchers found that regular exposure to pesticides through food was correlated with an increased risk of both obesity and diabetes.

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Use chopsticks or try this fork trick

Anything that slows you down when you eat can help you become more mindful of what you’re eating, how much you’re enjoying it, and how full you are feeling. One easy way to put a speed bump between you and your plate is to try different utensils. Chopsticks will slow most Americans down, but if you don’t have pair handy, try simply switching your fork to your non-dominant hand. You’ll have to concentrate harder before each bite and will pay more attention to your food. Here are seven mindful eating tricks to further draw your attention to what you’re putting in your body.

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Swap out sweats for a cute outfit

Try to avoid elastic waistbands, oversized sweaters, and other loose clothing, says certified nutrition specialist and author of the Sugar Impact Diet, JJ Virgin. Put on your favorite fitted dress, tailored jacket, or jeans, or any clothes that make you feel good. Either way, dress in a way that helps you to remind yourself that you are fabulous.

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Get a good night’s sleep

In our busy world, sleep is often the first thing to go, but skimping on even an hour of sleep can take a serious toll on your waistline. But the Mayo Clinic suggests trying to get back on track. It’s possible, they say, that not enough sleep leads to fluctuations in hunger-regulating hormones. Additionally, lack of sleep could render you too tired to engage in physical activity the next day.  Hit the sack early and make consistent sleep your top priority.

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Enjoy nature

Taking a hike through the mountains is certainly good exercise but you don’t have to break a sweat to take advantage of Mother Nature’s health package. Simply being outside in “green areas” has been linked to having a lower body weight, according to research done by the American Diabetes Association. Chances are, you already live within walking distance or relatively nearby some type of park. Get out there and explore your neighborhood.

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Watch food additives

Junk food isn’t great for your weight or your health, but it turns out it’s not just the empty calories and trans fats doing the damage. The Mayo Clinic notes that added sugars may be linked to obesity and other health issues. Though more research is needed, it’s probably best to stay in line with the American Heart Association’s guidelines. They suggest: no added sugar for children younger than age 2, no more than 100 calories from added sugar a day for children older than age 2 and most women, and no more than 150 calories from added sugar a day for most men.

 

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Order from the menu

The next time you go out to eat, skip the buffet and order a dish off the menu. It’s only logical; the greater the variety of food you see, the more your brain wants to taste each one. So, order from the menu. This way, you’ll eat only the food on your (one) plate.

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Say Om

Sometimes we eat because we’re hungry. And sometimes we eat because we’re bored, procrastinating, tired, sad, stressed, or thirsty. Knowing the difference between real hunger and, well, everything else, is a major key to losing weight. Fortunately there’s a simple tool to help you hear what your body’s really telling you. Consider meditation. It  can teach you to tune in to your body’s subtle signals, including hunger cues. The next time you’re tempted to down a glazed doughnut or a giant Coke, try doing a minute or two of meditation. You may just realize you’re actually dehydrated and go for a water instead. Mindfulness may also help children. A study published in a 2016 issue of Heliyon explains that increases in a child’s impulsivity may lead to increases in body fat. Therefore, mindfulness may help decrease such urges and subsequently, maintain an ideal weight.

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Look before you eat

Do you eat healthfully at home but get distracted from your weight-loss goal by delicious food at parties? Look before you leap. Just browse all the available food first before taking a bite. Looking first can help you prioritize which ones you enjoy the most and which ones you don’t like as much. That way, you don’t end up putting a whole bunch of food on your plate and end up ending things you really don’t thoroughly enjoy. Planning out your meal will teach you how to eat more mindfully, which will help you successfully lose weight without exercise.

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Tie a ribbon on it

The “femmes françaises” are famously svelte despite being surrounded by French bread, French pastries, and delicious French food in general. How is this possible? Some French women tie a ribbon around their waist and under clothing while dining. If the ribbon starts tightening, it’s a reminder to consider easing up on another trip to that buffet. In addition to France, take a look at these weight loss secrets from around the world.

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Relax with a glass of vino

People who unwind every day with a glass of red wine or juice made from red grapes burned more fat than they did without the drink, according to a study done by Oregon State University. Published in a 2015 issue of The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, that fat-loss stems from the ellagic acid in grapes. Just make sure to have only one small glass per day.

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Here comes the sun

Starting the day with a few minutes of bright sunlight reduced appetite all day long, according to a study published in PLoS ONE. The researchers had people wear a device to record their sun exposure. Sun worshippers who spent just 15 to 20 minutes in the morning sunshine, sans sunscreen, had lower BMIs than people who got less or no sunlight. Even better? They also reported being in a better mood all day as well.

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Get the early bird special

Consider eating your lunch earlier in the day, rather than pushing it off until mid-afternoon. Why? It stands to reason that waiting to eat in the name of “saving” calories could backfire. So don’t wait until 3:00 to have lunch; you may end up overindulging and sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

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Weigh yourself weekly

Daily weigh-ins can make you feel terrible, especially if you’re the type to obsess over every ounce. Yet abandon the scale completely and research has shown your weight is likely to creep up over time. Find a happy medium! Research conducted by the American Heart Association and published in the journal, Circulation, found that people who weighed themselves once a week or less did not lose weight. On the other hand, those who weighed themselves six or seven times a week averaged a 1.7 percent weight loss.

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Talk about your favorite meal

Sharing your favorite dinner recipe on Facebook, chatting with a friend about what you had for dinner, or even snapping pics of your meals and posting them to Instagram can help you shed weight. Why? It goes beyond sharing your excitement over a homemade meal. It’s all about accountability and being able to remember what you ate. The more you do this, you may start to notice what healthy or unhealthy habits are unfolding.

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An apple a day keeps the tummy pooch away

The next time you’re staring into the fridge waiting for the perfect snack to jump out at you, try going for an apple first. Fruits in general are high in fiber and nutrients, and eating a few servings every day can help you maintain a healthy diet. According to Mayo Clinic, apples are a go-to weight loss snack that’s under 100 calories. So too, are two kiwis, 20 grapes, a medium orange, and a small banana.

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Get busy in the bedroom

And we don’t mean cleaning or organizing. Having sex can be a great way to lose weight. It may not burn calories of triathlon proportions, but it will burn some. Plus, romantic time means less time at the refrigerator pondering tempting leftovers, right?

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Lose the forbidden fruit mentality

Craving a special treat? Eat it, love it, and move on with your day says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, and CEO of New York Nutrition Group. “Feeling guilty after eating foods you don’t usually allow yourself to eat can breed more unhealthy eating behaviors,” she explains. “So abandon those negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the indulgence guilt-free, and just remember to get back on track with your normal eating routine right after.”

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Socialize at social events

You go to social events like family reunions, office parties, dinner parties, and summer barbecues to see your friends and loved ones, so keep the focus on them and not on the food table says, Ana Goldseker, a culinary nutrition expert and Director of Nutrition for Nava Health and Vitality Center in the Maryland, DC and Virginia areas. Worried you won’t be able to resist the allure of grandma’s potatoes or those catered cupcakes? “A good idea is to ‘pre-eat’ something with protein and vegetables to stabilize your blood sugar so you don’t arrive starving,” she advises.

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Match your dishes to your tablecloth

Choosing a plate color that matches your tablecloth may mean you put less on your plate. It’s thought that contrasting plate and tablecloths could make you think your plate is larger, and in turn, you may pile on the food.

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But don’t match your dishes to your dinner

Be mindful of what foods you put on what color plates. Some older research notes that people tend to serve themselves more pasta if they eat on a plate the same color as their food (white-sauce pasta on a white plate, for example). How much more? They took 30 percent more food compared to people who used contrasting plates/food. So, eating red spaghetti sauce on a white plate, may be a better choice.

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Don’t get sucked in by “health halos”

When given snacks labeled as “low fat” or “all natural,” people tend to eat more than snacks that weren’t touted as healthy. But watch out. Just because that bag of chips states that they’re made with organic potatoes, shouldn’t give you the green light to down the entire bag in one sitting. According to Psychology & Marketing, this has to do with the “halo effect.” It’s the idea that something that’s ordinarily not considered healthy is sometimes perceived as such just because it carries wording or labels that suggest otherwise.

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Eat in silence

Taste, smell, and sight are all considered hugely important when it comes to eating, but another sense could be making a difference in whether or not you overeat, according to Brigham Young University research. Sound, namely the sound of food being chewed, may impact your weight loss goals. “Specifically, we show that increased attention to the sound the food makes, or food sound salience, may serve as a consumption monitoring cue leading to reduced consumption,” a 2016 issue of Food Quality and Preference notes. So do yourself a favor and turn off the TV and radio while you eat. Tune in instead to your crunching and slurping!

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Eat breakfast

Don’t skip breakfast with the hopes that it will boost your weight loss. The Mayo Clinic explains that research has shown several benefits behind eating that first meal of the day and shedding weight. First, having breakfast may help curb overeating because you won’t feel as ravenous when you finally do eat. Second, eating this meal may put you on track towards healthy choices for the rest of the day. Thirdly, breakfast gives you an immediate energy boost that can help with the physical activity needed to lose weight. Eggs and whole wheat toast, anyone?

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Cook at home

Sure, dining out can be a fun experience. But eating at home may boost your weight loss efforts. When you prepare your own meals, you’re in control of the ingredients and portions. Plus, you won’t feel compelled to finish your plate as you might in a restaurant. Make sure you know the truth about these biggest weight loss myths.

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Water, water, water

It’s not uncommon to confuse thirst for hunger. If you feel hungry, have a glass of water before eating. This may help keep overindulging at bay. Plus, try to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, aim for 70 ounces of water over the course of the day.

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Sit far away from the office treat bowl

Many offices put out dishes of treats and beverages, open for the taking. If you’re in one of those offices you likely have to see those bagels, cookies, and candies every day. How do you resist the allure? Make sure that they’re not near beverages. According to a study published in Appetite, the placement of foods and drinks often dictated whether those foods would be eaten. The closer snacks were to beverages, the more likely people were to chow down.

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Jot down what you eat

Keeping a food journal may help weight loss efforts. The act of writing something tends to solidify intentions, making you more inclined to commit to your goals. Besides, you can use your journal to refer to foods you’ve eaten. This helps you learn more about your eating habits and allows you to make adjustments as you go along. What you’re eating may surprise you!

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Take a probiotic supplement

Your microbiome, the balance of bacteria in your gut, affects everything from your mood to how many colds you get. And now you can add your weight to that list, says a study published in International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. People who took a daily probiotic supplement had lower weights and BMIs than people who didn’t. They lost even more weight when they took more than one type of probiotic and took the supplements for longer than eight weeks.

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Practice mindfulness

It’s called the mind-body connection for a reason. Your attitude and overall well-being can impact food choices and your mood as you continue your weight loss journey. Mindfulness, or quiet reflection, keeps you in tune with your actions. Whatever your mindfulness methods, the techniques may help you manage the emotional stresses that lead to overeating.

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Medically reviewed by Tia Jackson-Bey, MD, on September 18, 2019