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6 Diet Rules to Break

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. He probably wasn't referring to dieting, but he could have been. If you've tried the same weight-loss tricks month after month without losing pounds, maybe it's time for something completely different. It turns out most time-honored dieting decrees don't benefit everyone. In fact, they might be sabotaging your efforts. Here's how to rewrite the rules and finally drop pounds in a way that works for you.

By Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

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Old Rule: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the healthiest foods—such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products—are stocked.

Break It: This rule is impractical. Sure, there are tons of tempting treats (like high-fat chips, candy, and packaged cookies) at the store's center. But there are also some of the best foods for weight loss. Whole grains, all-natural cereals, and whole wheat pastas are loaded with feel-full fiber that helps you eat less. Also residing in the center: nuts, dried and canned beans, and tuna and salmon in pouches, which are among the top choices when it comes to protein.

Revised Plan: "Be discerning whatever aisle you're in," says Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, a dietitian based in Chicago. Choose grains like cereals and pastas that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving (5 grams is even better) and have "whole" listed in their first ingredient. Avoid foods with sugar at the top of the ingredient list, as well as anything that contains partially hydrogenated oils (meaning there are some trans fats).

Originally published in the February 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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