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Winning the food fight

If you’re waging a losing battle of the bulge, you’re not alone. Our nation is suffering a health crisis of growing proportions: Sixty-five percent of Americans are now overweight or obese. We’ve never been fatter. Yet, ironically, tens of millions of Americans are currently dieting. So why do diets fail?

Dieting’s downside

Studies show that most dieters who shed 10 percent of their body weight will regain two-thirds of it within a year and nearly all the unwanted pounds within five years. Simply put, many popular diets are too restrictive to stick to long term, such as diets that eliminate entire food groups like carbohydrates or dairy.

Once you’ve reached your ideal weight and stop dieting, the pounds can creep back, straining your zipper and your self-esteem. To lose weight and keep it off, jettison the diet mentality and adopt a lifetime strategy of healthy eating.

Eat-right strategies

Your eating plan should:

  • emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products
  • include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts
  • eliminate saturated fats and trans fats
  • limit cholesterol, sodium and added sugars

To help put your new eating plan into practice, follow these tips:

  • Slim-size your portions. A meat serving should be about the size of a deck of cards. A baked potato should measure up to your fist.
  • Balance the calories you eat with what you burn through exercise. Don’t forget the calories consumed from beverages like soda, juice and sports drinks.
  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Skipping meals leads to overeating. Add a couple healthy snacks in between, too.
  • Bypass the drive-thru. For healthier fast food, pick up a rotisserie-cooked chicken and bagged salad mix.
  • Boost your activity level. To lose weight, you need 60 to 90 minutes of exercise each day.