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Eat It: Is Your Diet Making You Hungry?

Mar. 12 2009, Published 9:34 a.m. ET

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Don’t eat fat! Don’t eat carbs! Don’t eat breakfast! Sound familiar?

When it comes to losing weight, everyone seems to have an opinion on what you SHOULDN’T do – and shouldn’t eat.

Sure, if you don’t eat, you’ll lose weight, but you’ll also be starving. And that’s a surefire way to sabotage your diet – because people with grumbling stomachs almost always make the wrong food choices. Either you’ll grab something convenient (and not healthy) when the hunger pangs start -- or you’ll overindulge to compensate.

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So what can you do?

First of all, ignore anyone who says you have to starve your way to a Size 2. Instead, choose foods that leave you feeling full, but still help you achieve your weight-loss goals. has identified some of the top mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. We’ll also show you why these strategies don’t work and how to avoid them. So stick with us … we’ll get you to the weight you want in no time!

Liquid Calories

If you’re filling up on things like juices, smoothies and flavored coffees, you’re adding a ton of calories to your daily total. In fact, some of these drinks can have MORE calories than a plate of real food – yet they won’t fill you up. Translation: You’ll be looking for real meal soon after you take the last gulp. Eating this way can add an additional 1,000 a day to your diet. Yikes!

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Major Culprits: Soda; sweetened, flavored coffee drinks including frappuccinos and lattes; frozen coffee drinks; smoothies; sweetened ice teas; and diet shakes.

The Solution:  Don’t substitute meals and snacks with drinks, no matter what kind.  Also, choose calorie-free liquids such as water or brewed unsweetened tea, and try cutting the size of calorie-dense beverages in half.

Skipping Breakfast    

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It might seem like skipping an entire meal is an easy way to cut calories, but eating a healthy breakfast can actually prevent you from overeating the rest of the day. That’s because skipping that morning meal send your brain a signal that you’re starving, which means your metabolism slows down and you become hungrier during the day. And that could lead to eating more frequently later on, as well as eating larger portions. And no weight loss.

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Major Culprits: Not allowing time to eat, not stocking your kitchen with quick and healthy breakfast foods, and gulping coffee in place of eating food.

The Solution:  Eat something in the morning.  No time?  Grab some fruit and yogurt on the way out the door.  Not into breakfast foods?  Try a turkey sandwich and a glass of milk.  Can’t eat early in the morning?  Store a few instant oatmeal packets and boxes of raisins in your desk to eat at work.

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Low-Fiber Foods  

Including fiber in your diet not only makes losing weight easier, it also helps protect you from things like cancer and heart disease. To get a good idea of how your fiber intake stacks up, think a minute about the color of your foods. Yes, the color. Does your dinner plate look bland – with white rice, bread, pasta and a little chicken or fish? If it does, you’re missing out on an easy, guilt-free fill-up. Go for a rainbow of fruits and vegetables – then throw in the rich brown whole grain breads and cereals.

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Major Culprits: white pastas, rices, sweetened or low-fiber cereals, white bread and rolls, plain bagels, and baked chips.

The Solution:  Bump up the fiber content. Trade in crispy rice cereal for some raisin bran. Add fresh fruit to your snack list. Dish up some red beans and brown rice for a quick dinner.

Carbs without protein   

If you’re guilty of carb-overload, you’re not alone. But filling up on high carb meals and snacks – and not getting enough protein – can leave you in a state on perpetual hunger. And that’s the last thing you want if you’re trying to lose weight! That’s because foods like breads, pasta and rice leave your stomach quickly. (So do fruits and veggies.) On the other hand – like we learned during the low-carb dieting craze a few years back – protein helps you feel full. You don’t need to go full-on Atkins, just make sure you’re getting enough lean proteins like chicken, fish and eggs.

Eat it
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Major Culprits: Big bagels, muffins, salads filled only with veggies

The Solution:  Instead of carb-loading be sure to choose a small portion of carbs and a small portion of protein at each meal.  Skip the bagel and cream cheese and try an English muffin with peanut butter. Toss a sliced hard-boiled egg or some turkey breast slices onto your salad.  Try a yogurt instead of that muffin for a mid-morning munchie.

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Relying on Reduced Fat Foods

Low-fat foods are not the magic bullet for weight loss. The problem is that many of these foods replace the fat with added sugar. And they’re usually not much lower in calories than the full-fat versions. Bottom line: They have their place, but don’t overindulge because you think it’s a safe choice.

Major Culprits: fat-free or low-fat salad dressings, dips, chips, cookies, ice cream,

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The Solution:  Include reduced-fat foods into your diet, but remember fat-free does not equal calorie-free.  Also, make sure when eating reduced fat foods that they either contain protein, such as low-fat yogurt and cheese, or you eat them with protein- or fiber-filled foods to help keep you feeling full longer.  For example, when enjoying light ice cream top it with some fiber-rich sliced bananas or blueberries.

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Sidebar No. 1 headline: Menu Makeover

Take a look at these two menus. If your diet looks more like the hungry day, give the happy day a try. You’ll feel more satisfied while getting fewer calories and losing weight.

Sample Menu: Hungry Day

8:30 a.m.:  Large (24 oz) Caramel Mocha Frappuccino (460 calories)

10:30 a.m.:  Large cinnamon raisin bagel with 2 ounces lite cream cheese (440 calories)

Noon:  2 cups salad with ¼ cup of light Italian dressing and a diet coke (128 calories)

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2:30 p.m.:  Diet coke and a reduced fat blueberry muffin (400 calories)

4:00 p.m.:  3 ounce bag baked potato chips (330 calories)

6:00 p.m.:  3 ounce skinless chicken breast, baked, 1 cup white rice, ½ cup steamed broccoli (322 calories)

8:30 p.m.:  1 cup fat free frozen strawberry yogurt (200 calories)

Total Calories: 2280

Sample Menu: Happy Day:

7:30 a.m.: 1 packet plain oatmeal prepared with 1 cup non-fat milk, 1 tablespoon of raisins and a dash of cinnamon (220 calories)

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8:30 a.m.: Large (20 oz) Café au Lait prepared with non fat milk (110 calories)

10:30 a.m.:  8 ounces of vanilla yogurt with ½ cup of strawberries (233 calories)

Noon: 2 cups of salad with 3 ounces of turkey and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette with 6 whole wheat crackers and a cup of non fat milk (332 calories)

3:00 p.m.:  1/4 cup mixed dried cranberries and walnuts (144 calories)

6:00 p.m.:  4 ounce skinless chicken breast, baked, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli and cauliflower (296 calories)

8:30 p.m.:  ½ cup of light ice cream topped with ½ a banana, sliced, 1 tablespoon light chocolate syrup and 1 tablespoon light non-dairy whipped topping (211 calories)

Total Calories: 1546



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