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7 habits of highly unsuccessful dieters, and how to break them.

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • Your meals usually come out of a carton, a vacuum-packed bag, or over the deli counter.
  • You almost never eat alone: TV, the Internet, phone, or your favorite magazine is there for nearly every meal.
  • You find it next to impossible to walk away from free food, even if you're not hungry – including all-you-can-eat buffets, supermarket sample tables, and those "taste me" booths at flea markets.
  • You spend more time regretting what you ate than preparing it.
  • You eat when you're hungry. Also when you're sad, mad, hurt, annoyed, irritated – even, sometimes, when you're overjoyed.

If you find yourself saying "That's me," you may have fallen prey to one or more unhealthy eating styles, mealtime or lifestyle habits that can get in the way of weight control.

Sometimes, destructive eating patterns are easy to spot, such as when you turn to food every time you're facing a problem. But often, the cues are so subtle that these unhealthy habits go unnoticed.

"Because we have been living with these habits or 'eating styles' for so long, we often don't even realize we are doing them," says Linda Yerardi, RD, LD, a dietician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.

So while you might recognize that you overeat when you're very upset, Yerardi says, you're less likely to see how little, everyday stresses are also driving your eating habits, with nibbles and bites that add up by the end of the day.

Another example: Eating while watching television or reading may make us feel less lonely, says weight loss coach Janice Taylor, but it also causes a disconnect with the fact that it's mealtime. And that, she says, often means a disconnect with how much you are eating.

"Television puts in you a light trance, and to some extent, the Internet or even reading a magazine can do the same thing," says Taylor, author of Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal. "So you end up chewing one mouthful while already shoveling another one onto the fork, without even tasting what you're eating."

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