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I'm trying to lose some weight, but want to be successful this time. Can you tell me the top "traps" that could destroy my best intentions?

1. Trap number one: Thinking that you have to give up the foods you love in order to lose pounds. Example: "From this day forward, I'm swearing off brownies." Life is too short to give up brownies, or ice cream, or chocolate, or anything else that gives you pleasure. When we give ourselves permission to eat anything, we actually eat smaller amounts--a real key to weight control. The problem with "forbidden fruit" is that we become obsessed with the restricted food. Then, at some point--usually stress induced--the flood gates open and we end up eating the whole pan of brownies, or pint of ice cream, or bag of candy, etc. Feelings of deprivation are not healthy. Go ahead and eat the foods you really want, knowing that you can always have more later or tomorrow, or the day after that.

2. Trap number two: Buying "problem" foods. I may be a trim dietitian, but I'm also human, and I know better than to bring potato chips into my home on a regular basis. If they're there, I'll eat them. So I buy potato chips infrequently and as a result, eat them less often. I still enjoy them, but they aren't a part of my daily diet. Foods such as chips, candy bars, soft drinks--all are fine on occasion, but certainly not daily--they simply have too many calories and too few nutrients. Rule of thumb to remember at the grocery store: we won't eat what we don't bring into the home.

3. Trap number three: believing that diet alone can solve weight problems. Weight control just won't happen without exercise. Make a list of physical activities you enjoy, and schedule them into your calendar.

4. Trap number four: Relying on meal replacements, diet supplements, and weight-loss drugs. These are crutches. You might lose weight initially, but who'd want to depend on these products indefinitely. Weight loss is easy. Keeping it off is what takes effort. "Real" food that provides a variety of flavors and textures is far more satisfying than a shake or other canned drink. Supplements aren't regulated for safety and can cause more harm--heart palpitations, high blood pressure, diarrhea-- than good. Drugs often have unpleasant side effects.

5. Trap five: Following fad diets. Any diet that restricts entire food groups, eliminates the foods you enjoy, requires that you buy specific dietary supplements, or promises rapid, easy weight loss, is fraudulent.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Former Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri Extension Site Administrator: 

Last updated:06/17/2015
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