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EAT IT: 8 Dieting Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Mar. 11 2009, Published 9:57 a.m. ET

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Hey, I can lose 10 pounds – I’ve done it a hundred times!

Sound familiar?

Losing weight and then gaining it back is practically a national pastime, yet hope never fades. It’s not long before we’re dieting again, thinking, “This time is going to be different!”

Well, with a little help from, this time WILL be different!.We’ve consulted top nutrionists and have pinpointed the eight dieting mistakes you don’t even know you’ve been making.

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Mistake #1: Going on a “diet”

Your goal may be to drop those pounds quickly, but unless you commit to making sustainable, long-term changes, those pounds are going to creep right back on once your “diet” is over. Sure, the quick-fix diets are very appealing (“Lose 20 pounds in six weeks!”), but none of those lose-it-fast fad diets are designed for weight maintenance. What’s a girl to do? Have a plan, but not with an end date – or weight --in mind. Make small changes each month, like adding more fruits and veggies this month, then switching to whole grain breads next month. This way, you’ll never feel the need to go “off” your diet.

Mistake #2: Skipping breakfast

You may think skipping your morning meal is a good way to save calories, but you’re only setting yourself up for binge eating later in the day. Your body WILL fight back! Breakfast is literally “breaking a fast” – after a night’s rest, your fuel tank is on empty. That morning meal is important for keeping you active and alert and functioning at your best. Not only that, but a recent study showed that breakfast-skippers had a significantly higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who ate a healthy meal soon after waking.

Eat it
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Mistake #3: Naming Your Magic Number

Sure, everyone wants to be a willowy 105 pounds, but let’s be realistic. You can’t control how much weight you lose or how fast you lose it, so don’t focus on a number or dress size. A better idea is to choose a “habit” goal that involves numbers … like skipping soda at lunch four times a week or planning to walk 30 minutes a day. These are things you can accomplish, and they’ll make you feel great when you can mark them off as completed at the end of each week. Plus, if you keep adding new goals – and meeting them – the scale will inevitably move in the right direction. Now, if you simply HAVE TO pick a goal weight, keep it real, OK? (As in, don’t pick your high school weight!) And give yourself a realistic amount of time to get there. Losing even ∏ pound a week is still getting you where you want to be.

Mistake #4: Eliminating Entire Food Groups

In a nutshell, this rarely works in the long-run. Low-carb diets are the most popular; during the Atkins weight-loss phase, you’re limited to 30 grams of carbohydrate per day -- the amount in two slices of bread and one-tenth of the carbs in a typical balanced diet! There’s also Somerizing, Suzanne Somers’ program (which prohibits eating carbs and protein at the same time), the Cabbage Soup Diet (no bread allowed), and the Grapefruit Diet (restricts dairy products and most vegetables) – just to name a few. Not only are you severely limiting your choices, but your body will eventually crave what it’s been denied. Cutting out entire groups can also leave you with nutritional deficiencies and low energy. Yes, you’ll probably lose weight, but you’ll be losing more muscle mass and fluid than fat. And we want to lose the fat, right? Right! Try making the best choices in each food group instead, like low-fat dairy, high-fiber grains and lean cuts of meat.

Mistake #5: Cutting Calories Too Much

Yes, you need to cut calories to lose weight, but if you eat too few, it can backfire. That’s because your body thinks it’s being starved and your metabolism will slow down. And THAT will make it super-tough to lose weight! In general, you should aim for 1,400 to 1,500 calories a day, but you can get a personalized target by plugging your height, weight and activity level into an online BMR calculator (try <> .) Aim to eat fewer calories than your burn (your BMR plus activity), but still more calories than your body needs to sustain life. It’s best not to cut calories by more than 500 calories per day.



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