Flexibility. A flexible plan doesn't forbid certain foods or food groups, but instead includes a variety of foods from all the major food groups. A healthy diet includes vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, and nuts and seeds. A flexible plan allows an occasional, reasonable indulgence if you like. It should feature foods you can find in your local grocery store and that you enjoy eating. However, the plan should limit alcohol, sugary drinks and high-sugar sweets because the calories in them don't provide enough nutrients.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
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