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Quit Counting Calories

9 realistic strategies that will have you eating right for life―and saying good-bye to diet guilt.

By Sara Reistad-Long
CupcakeNato Welton 

2. “Legalize” All Foods

Why: Be it cabbage soup or Atkins, a diet isn’t a diet if you aren’t cutting out certain foods. But research indicates that making your favorite flavors taboo only sets you up for trouble. “When you label a particular food as ‘bad,’ you’re automatically implying that it’s desirable,” says Geneen Roth, author of When Food Is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy ($15, “You’ll instantly want it more, making it easy to break down and overindulge.” Also, new evidence shows that eating foods you like in moderation will give you an edge in maintaining, even losing, weight. Scientists at the University of Oregon monitored the activity of the pleasure centers in subjects’ brains as they dined. The researchers found that the less enjoyable the meal was, the more people overate to compensate. “We strongly associate food with pleasure and comfort, so when it’s not providing either, we often try to solve the problem by eating more,” says Denise Lamothe, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of The Taming of the Chew: A Holistic Guide to Stopping Compulsive Eating ($15,

How to do it: Instead of focusing on do’s and don’ts, make all foods permissible. Incorporate flavors you love into each meal. Sure, it’s always best to seek out the healthiest version of dishes, but when absolutely nothing except, say, Grandma’s lasagna will do, don’t forbid yourself. Cut a reasonable portion (about the size of a deck of cards) and relish it.

Read More About:Healthy Eating

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Juice may serve up vitamins, but it won’t do much to ease hunger: Unlike solid foods, liquids don’t trip the brain’s satiety mechanism. For a more effective snack, pair a glass of 100 percent juice with a few nuts. Get more tips.