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Do it right: dieting

If you're thinking about starting a diet, check out our list of the most common mistakes slimmers make

05 APRIL 2011

There's still some time to go before summer is with us and we want to flaunt our figures in strappy tops and swimsuits. But, as the days get longer and the warm weather approaches, for lots of us it's time to think about losing weight gained over the winter.

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There's a general consensus that gradual weight loss is better than crash dieting – and that it's more likely to last – so the sooner you take action, the better. Experts warn that individual diets without specialist advice tend to fail and that even if you do lose weight, you risk falling into the dreaded yo-yo cycle where you put back on at least as many kilos as you managed to lose.

That means it's a good idea to seek out a specialist who can make a proper study of your personal needs, design a customised diet and monitor your progress throughout the process.

Having an expert guide will help you avoid some of these basic mistakes:

  1. Missing meals
    Lots of slimmers think that skipping meals will help. Breakfast is usually the the first to go, and then either lunch or dinner depending on schedules. In fact this skipping a meal is likely to do more harm than good, as it increases hunger and anxiety, and makes it more likely that you'll fall back on a quick snack or simply over-eat when you finally do have a meal.
  2. Fruit in the evening
    Contrary to popular belief, fruit provides rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates that will transform into stored fat if not used, so it's not the best choice for the last meal of the day.
  3. Focusing on single foods
    The body needs small amounts of protein and other nutrients throughout the day or some body-functions will suffer. Rather than focusing on a limited range of foods or eating just one dish, a diet which includes smaller portions of complete meals is more likely to provide everything your body needs.
  4. Design your own diet
    Without expert advice, you may end up with serious nutritional deficiencies and even if you do succeed in losing weight, you are liable to put it back on again quickly.
  5. Crash dieting
    Unless you take care to keep to a healthy diet, you may actually cause damage to your body and compromise some of the vital processes. 

  6. 'Light' is all right
    Just because a particular product or foodstuff is light on calories doesn't mean it's good for you, nor does it mean you can eat as much as you want. A healthy, planned diet will ensure that the calories you eat are all useful.

  7. It's the weekend
    It may be the weekend and you may have time off work, but that doesn't mean you can take time off from your diet. One of the fundamental keys to weight loss is the creation of regular habits, and although there are occasions when it's appropriate to relax a bit, you shouldn't abandon the plan altogether.

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