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Many Americans will resolve to eat healthier and lose weight in the New Year. But, studies continually show that the majority of people who vow to shed pounds in an upcoming year do not follow through on their resolutions, and most won’t even make it past the first few weeks of January.

A good nutrition plan can be derailed in many ways. By learning about some of the common pitfalls and making efforts to avoid them, you may be able to stick with your healthy eating approach a bit longer – and perhaps even for good.

Here are some common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid:

  1. Deprivation – Contrary to popular belief, skipping meals and severely limiting caloric intake are not effective ways to diet. That’s because when you eat infrequently or don’t get enough fuel from the foods you eat, your body will begin storing any and all of the calories it has as fat. A better approach is to make smart food choices and eat four to six small meals throughout the day. Small portions will help keep your metabolism working, which means that your body will continually burn calories.
  2. Narrow focus – To be most effective, a healthy eating plan should be combined with a regular exercise program. As you begin to eat more nutritious foods and control your portion sizes, you will still need to keep your metabolism going so that your body will burn calories with greater efficiency. Ideally, you should try to get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least five times a week. This amount of exercise will help you become more physically fit and also reduce your risk of developing many types of cancer and other serious health issues.
  3. Poor planning – Many people make unhealthy food choices simply due to a lack of time. With a little advance planning, you can avoid fast food and other diet “splurges.” For instance, before you embark on a hectic day, pack a small cooler with healthy snacks and take it with you. Also, you can prepare a few healthy meals and then freeze them on low-key weekends so that they’ll be readily available for those times when you are too busy to cook.
  4. Dehydration – If you don’t drink enough water, you might misinterpret your thirst signals as hunger and eat in response, even though you are actually thirsty rather than hungry. Try to consume about eight glasses of water each day, and more on days when you are physically active.
  5. Obsession with the scale – While it might be tempting, don’t weigh yourself too often or commit to unrealistic weight-loss goals. Many experts recommend losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. To monitor your progress, weigh yourself only once each week. If you’re eating healthy and working out regularly, you will eventually see results. In the meantime, be patient and enjoy the new you that you’re creating.

The path to healthy living is different for everyone. For the best results, it is important to stay positive, maintain your focus and set realistic, attainable goals for yourself.

You can meet with an expert at Moffitt Cancer Center if you have health concerns, and you don’t need a referral to do so. To get started, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete our new patient registration form.