Every year, millions of people jump on the dieting bandwagon and try the latest fad diet that requires them to eat all of something or nothing of something else. These diets all inevitably fail, and it's not because there's something wrong with the way the food was prepared or the special meals that are included. It's because the key to a healthy weight isn't to gorge on some foods and abstain from others - it's to eat a balanced diet that includes all things in moderation. Here are some tips for designing your dieting plan.

Talk to Your Doctor

Any time you're thinking about drastically altering your lifestyle, make an appointment and talk to your family doctor first. He or she has probably been encouraging you to eat healthier for years, so now that you're serious your doctor will be only too happy to help you design a plan that helps you meet your specific nutritional needs (people with high blood pressure or type II diabetes need special diets, for example). This plan should allow you to manage your diet both at home, the office and eating out.

Use the Food Guide

When you plan your meals, use Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating to determine how much of which food groups you need to include in your daily intake. Most unhealthy eating stems from grabbing whatever is available near you as you're on your way out the door, so take the time to plan out a menu ahead of time that includes all of your nutritional requirements. Even if you must eat out, you can still plan to include a green salad or a chicken breast in your selection.

Read Food Packaging

People often get into trouble nutritionally without realizing it because they assume something is healthy without verifying it on the product packaging. Read food labels, paying special attention to the calories, fat content, and vitamins present. Ask for the nutritional information at restaurants and when eating meals prepared by cafes. You may be surprised how many seemingly healthy foods, such as muffins or salads, are actually loaded with fat and salt.

Give in to Cravings

The trick to eating a balanced diet is to stick with it for life, so it's not reasonable to cut out junk foods entirely. Denying your cravings will only lead you to eat everything else in a failed attempt to kill the craving, so if you really want a salty snack or some chocolate, buy yourself one of the special 100 calorie portions as a treat. Just don't make it a regular occurrence, and make sure to deduct the wasted calories from another part of your meal.

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