Ready to get in shape and trying to pick your next fad diet? Well some experts are saying if you want to lose weight and keep it off, forget about the "d" word and learn the strategies that will really change that number on the scale.
"A variety of factors, from biological forces to emotional ones, make traditional diets very difficult for people to follow," explained Michelle May, M.D., author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. One of the biggest problems is that dieting is, by nature, only a temporary fix. "You follow a prescribed eating plan, reach your goal weight, then go off the diet and regain," Dr. May explains. If you want to get to a healthy weight and stay there, you need to ditch the whole concept of dieting and learn how to make healthy changes you can sustain for the long haul. Check out these ways to change your feeling of dieting doom:
Diets are Stressful. Erase the stressful "good vs. bad food" mind-set and replace it with a more forgiving approach that provides a healthy structure-but with plenty of leeway. "Classify the things you eat as 'usually,' 'sometimes' and 'rarely' foods," suggested Ellie Krieger, a registered dietitian and the author of Small Changes, Big Results. "If you eliminate the idea of forbidden food, you take away the stress and guilt that comes with dieting as well as some of the triggers of overeating and weight gain."
Control those Cravings. To avoid maxing out your self- control, make it tougher to get your hands on junk food, said Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., a health psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Stock up on fruits and vegetables, keep packaged snacks and fatty, sugary treats out of the house and carry healthy ones in your bag in case you start getting hungry while you're on the go. "It's about controlling your environment so it doesn't control you," Pagoto explained.
Speed up a Slow Metabolism. Fortunately, there's a proven way to fight back: exercise. People who have successfully kept weight off for more than five years typically get a fair amount of physical activity regularly, according to data from the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks the habits of long-term weight.
Know your Food Triggers. We eat for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger, and the more you practice tuning in to what you really want, the better you'll get at it. If your instinct tells you to eat a cookie, by all means, eat one. But to help prevent a binge, take the time to enjoy it. Brain-imaging studies show that at the first sip of a chocolate milkshake, the area of the brain that processes pleasure lights up, but once you've consumed a relatively small amount it shuts down, making the experience far less enjoyable. If you stop when the pleasure dissipates, you won't overdo it.
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