A study in the journal Obesity shows that women who said they followed a rigid diet were 19 percent more likely to be overweight than those with a more flexible eating plan. "When you've got an all-or-nothing mentality, you're setting yourself up to fail," says James O. Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado, Denver. "Often, one slipup will leave you feeling defeated and cause you to give up." Instead, indulge every once in a while. Kleiner suggests giving yourself five "get out of my diet free" cards weekly. Just limit yourself to one portion each time.
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To Lose Weight: Be a Food Sleuth
A package or menu may claim that a food is "reduced-calorie," but that doesn't mean it's a smart pick. "When we see these good-for-you claims—low-carb, heart-healthy, or organic, for instance—we believe we can get away with eating more," says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D., an adjunct nutrition professor at New York University. Indeed, in a Cornell University study, researchers found diners at a "healthy" restaurant underestimated their meals by nearly 200 calories. Check calorie counts! You may be surprised!
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To Lose Weight: Downsize Your Dishes
Counting calories is the primary tenet of weight loss, but it goes hand-in-hand with portion control. "We tend to over-consume because we often ‘eat with our eyes'—if we can see it on our plate, our brains think we need to finish it," says Young. To keep servings in check, use a smaller plate. Researchers at Cornell University found people who ate hamburgers off saucers believed they were eating an average of 20 percent more calories than they really were, while those who ate off 12-inch plates thought they'd eaten less and weren't as satisfied. So put your main meal on a salad dish instead.
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