A little produce goes a long way

Here's an easy way to eat less and lose weight: Buy more fruits and vegetables.

Now, I know that's very similar to the standard diet advice to forming more healthy habits. But look more closely and you'll spot the difference.

It's a single word.

See it? Normally you're told to eat more fruits and vegetables, but new research shows that you may not actually have to go that far.

Just buying them -- just having them around your home -- could be enough to do the trick and keep your healthy habits on track.

In one set of experiments, for example, volunteers were given chocolate to eat. Some were also told to smell some oranges before they indulged.

The ones who inhaled the sweet aroma of fresh fruit actually ate less than half the chocolate of the ones who didn't -- and the researchers say it may be that just having healthy foods around reminds us of our diet goals and helps us to stick to those healthy habits.

Hey, if it works and leads to healthy habits and weight loss, I won't knock it.

But why waste money -- not to mention perfectly good food -- when you don't have to? So as long as you're stocking up on fruits and vegetables to sniff, you may as well eat them.

The study shows a benefit there, too -- of course -- because in another experiment volunteers were asked to eat either garlic bread or a small salad before dinner.

The ones who were given the greens naturally ate smaller meals than the ones told to load up on carbs -- and, again, it may be that eating something healthy served as a reminder of diet goals.

And maybe that's true. I'm guessing the hunger-triggering carbs in the garlic bread also played a role here.

But forget all that, because the biggest benefit of fresh produce isn't just how they might change your behavior around other foods. It's that they're good for you -- and when you eat them, you'll get the essential nutrients needed for good health.

And when you eat them in place of bad food -- like garlic bread -- you replace bad calories with good ones.