Throw out the diet myths and maintain a balanced healthy diet, no matter how many weight loss programs you’ve already tried.

Losing weight is far from simple. Yet the first words my clients say to me are, "I know what I should do to lose weight - I just don't do it." These women believe diets are like baggy sweat pants - one size fits all - and that means either eating like a gnat or becoming an exercise addict to burn off every calorie—neither of which maintains a balanced healthy diet.

True, this method can contribute to weight loss - but not for long. The pounds you lose will inevitably return - plus more - because you have barked up the wrong tree when it comes to shedding body fat.

Diet tips: Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 50, you shouldn't think diet, denial or deprivation.

(If deprivation diets worked, everyone who has ever been on a diet would be lean.) Denying or depriving yourself of your favorite foods also does not work. So how do you lose weight without dieting? Try these two diet tips:

  • Eat appropriate portions of whatever foods trigger your taste buds.
  • Eat to fuel your body - not for comfort, entertainment or diversion from life's burdens.

More weight loss tips that work: discover how we helped three women overcome the three worst diet myths and the five most-dangerous dietary land mines and how to sidestep them so they don't blow your balanced healthy diet.

[header = Weight loss tips: debunking common diet myths to lose that weight for good.]

Smart Women, Dumb Weight Loss Programs


Three real-life women stop following the diet myths that made them fat - and start losing weight for good with real diet tips that work.

The following case studies exemplify three clients of mine who took the quiz. By making a few simple changes in their weight loss programs, they learned how to better manage their weight and became diet-wise and pounds lighter.

Diet myths #1: Healthy carbs are making me fat.

Weight loss tips # 1: The assumption that healthy carbs lead to weight gain is untrue, as excess calories are typically to blame.

Judy is a 33-year-old lawyer and five-day-a-week exerciser at her health club. She was so addicted to carbs that she decided the only way to lose weight was to cut them. "I'm a carboholic," Judy admits. "I've eaten a whole loaf of bread in a sitting, bagels for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and when it comes to pasta - don't get me started! Please! I could eat it every night!" The result: She was several pounds overweight - and gaining.

Before counseling, Judy decided to get a head start by banning carbs from her diet "because I know they're fattening," she told me on her first visit. I replied that despite popular belief (and all those Zoned-out celebs), no science backs up the notion that carbs make you fat. "Excess calories are the problem," I said, "whether you get them from pork chops (protein) or bread (carbs)."

I encouraged Judy to choose foods she really wanted to eat, including healthy carbs, since depriving herself was likely to lead to "last-chance eating" (as in "this is my last chance to eat a bagel before I go back on my diet, so I'd better eat another one").

To lose weight, I suggested diet tips that included Judy eating 1,800 calories a day, cutting 400 calories from what she needed to maintain her current weight.

Did these weight loss tips work for Judy?

[header = Diet myths revealed: find weight loss tips that work – and ones that don’t.]

Judy thinks that she needs to cut carbs to lose weight. Shape experts, though, recommend a balanced healthy diet incorporating healthy carbs.

Judy and I agreed to divide her 1,800 calories among four small meals:

  • 500-calorie breakfast
  • 500-calorie lunch
  • 500-calorie dinner
  • 300-calorie "second lunch"

I also encouraged her to choose a balance of protein, fat and carb calories. She discovered she could have her healthy carbs and lose weight too! She enjoyed a:

  • 300-calorie multigrain bagel for breakfast
  • 200 calories' worth of wheat bread in a lunchtime sandwich
  • 300 calories of spaghetti for dinner

"I'm so much happier eating the foods I truly like!" says Judy, adding, "Because I know I can have more at the next meal, I'm not pigging out on them."

Diet myths #2: The only way to lose weight is to eat once a day.

Weight loss tips # 2: No reputable weight loss programs should ever suggest eating only once daily.

Katie is a 27-year-old accountant who has recently started running two to three miles a day and hopes to lose 7 pounds.

Before seeing me, Katie figured that since food was by nature fattening, the best way to lose weight was to eat once a day. At her first visit she said she tried to hold off eating as long as she could, having coffee for breakfast and skipping lunch (or eating a small salad with fat-free dressing). But she said her starve-all-day diet was backfiring, because she was pigging out at night.

Katie needed revised weight loss tips to redefine her attitude about food and divide her calories more evenly. I suggested she think of food as gas in her car. To go from one task to another throughout the day, she had to fuel up regularly, instead of trying to run on empty.

We decided to start Katie on a balanced healthy diet that included three meals a day plus a small afternoon snack. (I usually advise four mini-meals spread evenly throughout the day, but since Katie was only eating one meal, going to three was quite a leap.) Katie agreed to eat a 600-calorie breakfast:

  • a bowl of raisin bran with milk
  • a glass of orange juice
  • a banana

"I was so stuffed, I didn't even think about food all morning!" she said. For lunch, she had a 500-calorie meal (a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and container of low-fat yogurt), plus a 100-calorie afternoon snack (a small bag of pretzels).

At dinner time, Katie wasn't ravenous like before and was satisfied with a 600-calorie dinner (grilled chicken or fish with steamed veggies, etc.).

By following these diet tips and checking food labels for calories, she continues to learn to fuel her body appropriately all day long, not just at dinner. "I have more energy to run. I feel so much better," says Katie, who is losing weight by eating more healthfully (and regularly) than ever, debunking diet myths and weight loss programs that just don’t work.

[header = Healthy diet tips: snacking can help you to maintain a balanced healthy diet.]

Diet myths #3: Eating between meals guarantees weight gain.


Weight loss tips # 3: Eating healthy snacks helps to maintain a balanced healthy diet and shed pounds effectively. See our healthy diet tips below.

Cara, a 28-year-old nurse and mother of two, has been trying to lose the same 10 pounds for six years now.

Before coming to me, Cara tried to control her food intake by eating only meals, no snacks. "I had it in my brain that snacking was bad," she said. Yet Cara admitted she got very hungry between meals, "especially at 3:30 in the afternoon when I got home from work and my children came in from school," she said.

She gave her kids a snack, but she held off until dinner, at which point she was "cranky and starving. Inevitably, I then ate too much," she said. She realized her efforts to skimp on snacks were fruitless and, in the long run, extremely fattening.

I told Cara that snacking as a part of a balanced healthy diet was good because people get hungry about every four hours. Cara eats breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and lunch at 11:30. By 3:30, her body is depleted - and rightly crying for fuel.

My diet tips included encouraging Cara to experiment with eating a "second lunch": a bowl of soup or cereal that registers as a meal because you have to sit down, pick up a spoon and eat it, as opposed to a bag of chips, which she could mindlessly inhale while folding the laundry. I also pointed out that eating a second lunch would blunt her appetite for dinner so she'd be satisfied with a lighter meal.

It only took Cara a day to discover the benefits of snacking. "When dinner time arrived, I was only slightly hungry. I ate a smaller meal and slept better," says Cara, who is on her way to achieving her permanent weight-loss goal, thanks to weight loss tips that work.

[header = Diet myths: weight loss tips for avoiding dietary landmines at Shape online.]

Life is filled with dietary pitfalls and dangerous minefields that can quickly destroy a balanced healthy diet.

Here are five of the most common minefields, along with some diet tips on how to sidestep them.

  1. Weight loss help for stressful situations: Food is a drug that alters brain chemistry and has a calming effect. That's why you may reach toward food when you are stressed and anxious. Weight loss tips: If you feel a binge coming on, ask yourself "How much Häagen-Dazs do I really need to resolve the stress? One spoonful? Five spoonfuls? The whole half-gallon?" Obviously, no amount will. The moral of the story? Don't start eating if you think you will have trouble stopping, which increases the risk of blowing your balanced healthy diet right out of the water. Instead, face the stressful feelings: Talk or write them out, take a bath or go for a walk. You'll feel better than if you ate the food.
  2. Weight loss help in restaurants: If eating out does your balanced healthy diet in, you're probably entering the restaurant feeling too hungry. Instead of banking calories from breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy a bigger dinner, eat appropriate daytime meals and arrive at the restaurant less hungry. If you apply these diet tips, you'll be satisfied with small portions of even the richest foods.
  3. Weight loss help when it’s party time: Avoiding parties for fear you'll eat the whole buffet table (including the legs)? Relax! The best weight loss tips to avoid this problem? Shift the focus away from food and onto the people. The point of the party is to have fun with friends, not to stuff your face. Socialize away from the food and wear pants or a skirt with pockets. Then keep your hands in your pockets so your busy little fingers cannot reach for food.
  4. Weight loss help when you’ll be eating fast foods: Most chains offer at least one or two low-fat options and/or options with healthy carbs so you really can eat healthfully - even if the fries have enough grease to condition your hair. But if those fatty items tempt you, learn how to balance them into your day's calorie budget (and eat lower-fat foods at the other meals). To get the real count on fast-food calories, ask for it at the restaurant. Better yet, surf the Web beforehand and arrive armed. (Check out dunkindonuts.com, mcdonalds.com, pizzahut.com, etc.).
  5. Weight loss help when you’re not eating until dinner: Is dinner your biggest meal of the day? Your reward for having survived the chaos? Well, think again. Weight loss tips: "Fortify by day" is the better route to weight management than is "reward by night"! By fortifying yourself with a big breakfast, you'll have the energy to cope with the day's stresses, so you'll feel less in need of a reward at night.

Taking the above diet tips to heart can greatly increase your weight loss success!

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