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5 tips to break weight gaining habits

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A big part of weight gain can be traced to bad eating habits. Some changes can be simple but hard to implement. Bad food tastes good or we wouldn't eat it.

Some people are able to make major nutritional changes "cold turkey." Some of us need to take baby steps. More of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

Here are 5 tips to improve your eating habits:

1. Add whole, natural foods to your menu that you like. You are more likely to stay with a menu loaded with foods you like. Whole, natural foods have one ingredient, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. And, they are many times nutritional and low-calorie.

2. If you eat a "cheat food" one day, its not the end of the world. Just get back on your menu track right away. If you stay with your nutrition program 90% of the time, you will do just fine.

3. A good tactic to use: challenge your accountability partner to "eat-no-bad-food days." That way, you keep each other in check. Never try to do an exercise and nutrition plan by yourself. Personal trainers, spouses and workout buddies are good accountability partners.

4. List in your food journal items you will not eat/or severely limit like: sodas, sugary fruit juice drinks, candy, cookies, donuts, fried meats and fried foods, fast foods, foods in a box/bag, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.

Right next to that "bad food list," write down good food items you will replace them with like: oatmeal, almonds, walnuts, low-fat yogurt, fruits, veggies, unsweetened tea, salad greens, water, lean meats (baked, broiled or grilled), olive oil, cinnamon, mustard, etc. Remember, make a list of foods you like. This replacement tactic works well.

5. Starvation tactics never work long-term. It just slows the fat burning process.

Your body relies on the nutrients in food for fuel. When you starve yourself, it senses the downward shift in your caloric intake and kicks into starvation mode. When this happens, your metabolism will slow down and your body will hold on to stored fat in order to conserve energy.

Lean muscle mass needs more energy to function than fat. Basically, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. If you continue to starve yourself, your body will feed on your lean muscle tissue and make it even harder for you to lose weight.

The weight lost from starvation diets always comes back. As soon as you start eating again, you’ll likely regain all of the weight you lost, plus a few extra pounds. In the end, you’ll wind up bigger than you were before you started starving.

Eat better, feel better and look better.

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