Is Your Diet Too Complicated?

VIDEO: The Nutrition Twins on avoiding diet mistakes.
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A study published in the February 2010 issue of the journal Appetite showed that the simpler your diet, the easier it is for you to stick to it over the long haul. Follow these effortless steps to streamline your plan and shed unwanted pounds for good.

Make friends with your scale

If you want to lose weight, think of your scale as a friend, not a foe. Weigh yourself once a day, first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom and getting undressed (water weight and clothing can throw off the number). Track your results in My Health Trackers, and stay motivated by following the weight graph's changes over the next few weeks.

Learn how to use your scale to your advantage

Post goals in spots you'll see

Keep yours top of mind by writing it down and posting in several places where you'll notice it often—on your computer monitor, on the fridge, in your wallet. It doesn't have to be weight loss–related. Your goal might be to drink more water, sleep 8 hours a night, strengthen your arm muscles, or stress less. Then tell someone about it.

Research conducted by the Dominican University of California showed that people who wrote down their goals, shared them with a friend, and then followed up with weekly updates were, on average, 33% more successful than those who didn't write down their goals or share them with others.

Write down every bite, nibble, and swallow

According to recent studies, participants who keep a daily food journal lose twice as much weight as those who don't. Keep track today by recording the food and portion size in My Health Trackers' Foods Eaten section. Don't forget to write down beverage calories, too!

While tracking every day leads to more weight loss success, do what feels right to you. If tracking for 2 days a week is more realistic, then commit to completing that goal and staying mindful of what you eat the other days.

Ramp up water intake

People who drink about 7 cups of water a day eat nearly 200 fewer calories than those who get less than a glass a day, reports a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In order to get those 7 cups in, drink 1 cup with each meal and snack, have a cup before and after your workout, and make time for a cup of decaf tea in the afternoon or evening.

To liven up plain water, add sliced lemon, lime, cucumber, or even a low-calorie drink mix.

Hunger and thirst are also easy to confuse, says Marjorie Nolan, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association: "The last thing you want when you are trying to lose weight is to think you're hungry when you're actually thirsty."

Try our refreshing Sassy Water recipe -- it can help flatten your belly.

Eat breakfast every day this week

Eating breakfast is like giving your metabolism a little jolt, causing it to rise faster and burn calories at an optimal rate. It can also help you keep weight off in the long term. According to data from the National Weight Control Registry on people who have maintained a weight loss of around 30 pounds for at least a year, 78 percent of the subjects reported eating breakfast every day of the week.

What you eat for breakfast is also very important, says Angela Ginn, RD, a spokesperson for the ADA. She suggests you choose foods with a lower glycemic index to keep blood sugar low and energy high. If you're looking for something new and different, try barley, which is high in fiber to help you stay fuller longer (and offers a nutty, wholesome flavor that's a little different than oatmeal). "Get hulled barley and make it the same way you would oatmeal, and add healthy toppings," says Ginn.

Flavored waters are a great way to meet your hydration needs, but some have as much sugar as a can of soda.

Learn how to sip smartly

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More from Prevention:

14 snacks that power up weight loss

Mindless Munching Habits That Could Be Making You Fat

Small Changes That Take Off Big Pounds

Burn fat and cut calories in 60 seconds or less

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