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Diet Traps to Avoid

When you’re trying to shed extra pounds, it’s tempting to look for an easy way out—a magic bullet or a diet product that promises fast, easy weight loss.

Diet traps and unhealthy eating can't safely help you lose weight for the long term. A sensible weight-loss plan that includes balanced meals and exercise can help you reach your healthy weight.

Watch for these

These are some of the diet traps you should stay away from:

  • Starving yourself to lose weight. You can lose weight on a very low-calorie diet, but doing so can be dangerous and most always results in weight gain as soon as you go off the diet. Losing weight gradually, about 1 or 2 pounds a week, is healthier and more likely to last.

  • Giving up on a whole food group. For example, low-carb diets suggest that you stop eating bread.

  • Believing that eating a certain food can make you lose weight. Some diets falsely claim that eating grapefruit or other high-acid foods will burn off fat.

  • Skipping meals to speed weight loss. In fact, skipping meals can slow your metabolism, making it even harder to shed pounds.

  • Eating all the fat-free foods you want. Although it’s true that a high-fat diet is usually a high-calorie diet, calories count no matter what your meal plan. Compare labels before buying fat-free foods. Often you’ll find the fat-free version has as many or even more calories than the regular one.

Plan for success

Experts say a successful diet plan should include the following steps:

  • Keep a food diary. This can give you valuable information about where you’re getting the extra calories that are causing your weight gain, she says. Are you eating large portions? Do you drink a lot of soda each day?

  • Add physical activity. Exercise is essential to weight loss and weight maintenance.