Behavior Traps in Dieting

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Looking for Patterns

The first step to identifying behavior traps in dieting is to look for patterns in your eating habits which can be hampering your efforts to eat healthy and lose weight. You may find a food journal helpful to track what you are eating, but also to track the situation and who you are with when you eat. If you know what's causing your overeating, you can find ways to get back on track.

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What Portion Size?

Many of you may have been raised with your parents telling you to finish everything on your plate. That's not a bad idea when it comes to saving costs and for fueling a young person's growth. However, as you age, your metabolism slows, which means that you need to eat less. Keep some of your meal for leftovers or an afternoon snack rather than following the behavior you learned as a kid.

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Salt it First

Do you catch yourself reaching for the salt shaker even before you've tasted your food? Many people may automatically assume that their food needs salt. However, too much salt in your diet can cause fluid retention and bloating, which can put added strain on your heart. Always taste your food first, and then you can decide if it needs some spicing up.

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Pass the Butter

Like salt, you may have a tendency to slather butter on your vegetables or baked potato. That little bit of fat adds some good flavor. Unfortunately, you may be undoing the healthy benefits of including more veggies in your diet. A single tablespoon of butter adds a whopping 100 calories. If it is salted, you've added to your body's salt intake. Instead, limit your portions or use other flavoring such as spices to improve taste.

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Girls' Night Out

Getting together with the girls is a great way to relieve stress and enjoy some fun camaraderie. However, the tendency to snack is probably high as you enjoy the social setting. Before going out, have a healthy snack such as cut vegetables and hummus to help fill you up before someone passes the buffalo wings your way.

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Giving in to Fat

No lies here, giving up fat is hard. It takes several weeks before your body stops craving fat and all its calories. There will be times when you crave fat. Don't be a slave to fatty foods. When the craving comes along, reach for a healthy alternative instead. Every time you give in to fat, the longer it will take you to break the fat habit. Low fat diets will help you lose weight and stay healthy.

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Rationalizing Calories

It is easy to rationalize how many calories you are really getting, especially if you eat out. It's just a salad, you say? Add the cheese, croutons, dressing, and other goodies, and your healthy Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad comes in at 770 calories. If available, research the restaurant online for nutritional information. Always remember to order your dressings and sauces on the side to put yourself in control over extra calories.

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Distracted Eating

You would probably eat less if you knew how much you were actually eating as you and the family polished off the last of the chips and salsa. Distractions such as TV and Internet surfing may prevent you from limiting your portions. Rather than putting out a tray of snacks, divvy out portions so everyone know exactly what they are eating. Over time, your mind will learn how to read portion sizes better.

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Not Modifying Recipes

Most recipes can be tweaked to reduce calories for healthier meals. Easy ways to lighten meals include going easy on the fat by substituting low-fat or no-fat alternatives. Using a non-stick pan with cooking spray will eliminate literally hundreds of calories from cooking oils. Before you prepare your meal, read over the recipe before you start to see if you can spot simple ways to cut out [ unnecessary calories].

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Behavior Traps in Dieting