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020116 Top 10 Diet Blunders - Plus Bad News for Vegetarians

January 19, 2002

ABC News - Ninety-five percent of diets will be abandoned before springtime. But dietitians say just knowing the top 10 diet blunders will safeguard your goal.

Only three weeks into the new year and many Americans are already raising the white flag in their battle with one of the most popular resolutions - sticking to the diet.

In fact, studies show that 90% to 95% of people break their diet resolution, with most resolutions broken by the end of February.

Just why do new year's dieters find it so difficult to take on the task of eating in a more healthful way?

ABCNEWS.com turned to two of its diet experts, Linda Blarjeske, a clinical registered dietitian at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., and Debbie Pesicka, a registered dietitian at the University Medical Center in Tuscon, Ariz., for their top 10 list of classic diet blunders.

Experts consider these tips the "fine print" that should accompany any diet resolution. If you've already abandoned 2002's resolution, this list should help you get back on track.

1. Forbidding Foods

Blarjeske : One of the main areas that lead to diet cheating is the dreaded forbidden food list. Giving up your favorite foods, can be the downfall of any diet and lead to craving and bingeing.

2. Self-Deprivation

Blarjeske : If you restrict your calories too much this can lead to feelings of hunger and deprivation. And what can be worse than feeling deprived of a food? This mistake also leads to craving and likely bingeing.

3. No Realistic Goals

Pesicka : A classic diet mistake is not setting a goal. Write it down and make it realistic. To say, 'I want to lose 10 pounds every week for the first six weeks of 2002,' is not realistic. To say, 'I want to lose a half to one pound a week,' is much more realistic. If you have written it down and if you look at that goal every once in a while, that recommits the goal to your memory and to your focus.

4. Drinking in the Calories

Blarjeske : We forget that drinking that glass of red wine with our dinner or drinking non-fat milk or juice during the day has calories in it. These calories may significantly affect any weight loss that you may want. So stick to the good old standby water. If you don't like the flavor, try a water filter, or maybe add a little lemon or lime into it.

5. Leaving Out Exercise

Pesicka : It's really important to remember to include increased activities in the process of losing weight. It's relatively easy to reduce calories for a little while but if you also move around more, you're going to be more successful. The other thing you're going to do is build muscle, and muscle uses more calories than fat. So in the long run you become a much more fit, lean, energy-using machine.

6. Stressing Out

Pesicka : Many things can lead to diet cheating but I think a primary reason is stress. We all have stresses in our lives and anytime you try to make a lifestyle change, that's an added stress. It's a matter of setting goals for yourself and reserving time to reach those goals. It only becomes a stressor if you find you are not meeting those goals and are worrying about them instead. Then, it becomes a vicious cycle where you know you want to lose weight but you're not devoting the time to it and so it just never happens. It's really not a good situation to get into.

7. Being Cheap with Rewards

Blarjeske : Another thing people forget to do in their dieting plans is rewards. Give yourself a non-food reward. It could be as simple as a pair of earrings or maybe a night out at the movies. But that's very important you give yourself a pat on the back. If you've lost a half a pound, great. Don't wait until you've lost 20 and 30, 40 pounds.

8. Making Big Leaps

Pesicka : One of the biggest diet blunders that people make is trying to change too many things at once. If you're a big meat eater and decide to become vegetarian because you've decided that's healthier, it's probably not going to happen successfully in one swift move. However, if you decide you want to reduce your meat choices to four times a week instead of seven times a week, that's much more realistic. It's also easier for you to see how much you might like that eating style. Any change needs to be done in a step-wise method. Take it slow and take it in steps.

9. Thinking Too Fast

Pesicka : In our day and age, we tend to think of change coming miraculously fast. But you have to realize that good health is a time commitment. Studies show it takes six weeks of committing to a behavior change before it becomes a new habit. So, really, "miraculous weight loss", if it does occur, is not healthy and almost never lasts.

10. Ignoring the Big Picture

Pesicka : One of the best things people can remember is that a diet should not be thought of as something temporary. If you're going to make dietary changes, or activity changes, consider them lifestyle changes. Consider it something that's going to help you with your health, with your fitness, with your overall being for your whole life.

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