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How to Spot a Good Diet

Avoid the latest weight-loss fad and look for a plan that focuses on the fundamentals—eating healthfully and getting fit.

By Mindy Hermann, R.D.

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fish and wine glass illustrationGet-thin-quick schemes are popping up like weeds, loaded with promises of simple meal plans and quick results, and filling dieters with hope. The problem is, although they sound convincing, diet schemes generally don’t work. Here are 10 tips to help you separate the good weight-loss programs from the fads:

1. Keep It Simple
The concept behind weight loss is straightforward: Take in fewer calories by eating less, and burn more calories by being active. The Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a government information service, suggests you look for a program or an approach that recommends regular physical activity and a balanced, healthful, easy-to-follow eating plan.
2. Gather Information
Ask questions,recommends the Partnership for Healthy Weight Management, a group of weight-loss experts and programs. Find out how a program works, how much it costs, how much weight loss can be expected based on the success of other participants, and whether the program has any risks.
3. Look for Flexibility
The most effective programs allow you to eat from all food groups in a combination of meals and snacks, which helps ward off hunger between meals. Also, you should be able to customize a diet to account for your own likes and dislikes. 
4. Incorporate Exercise
The calories you expend by being active are as important as the calories you get from food. Look for a program that encourages activities.
5. Work with a Team
Weight loss is easier when you have the support of qualified professionals, including a doctor to manage medical problems and in-person or online support groups and counselors.
6. Do a Reality Check
The best programs suggest a modest weight loss of 0.5 to 2 pounds per week after the first few weeks. They also offer a plan for keeping off the weight after you lose it.

Continued on Page 2: How to Spot a Bad Diet

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