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How do we diet? With apps, healthful foods and smaller portions

When we diet, most of us eat more fruits and vegetables, many choose an established weight loss program, and one in four of us gets some help from a smartphone app.

Those are some of the results from a recent ConsumerReports.org survey of 3,201 subscribers who shared their experiences about becoming more healthy. With a few days left until you begin your new year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in shape and feel good in 2012, perhaps some of these enlightening tidbits will help steer you in the right direction.

In an effort to lose weight, 2,680 of the survey respondents followed a popular diet plan, and 50% chose Weight Watchers or Weight Watchers online at some point since 2008. More than a fourth--27%--went with a low-carb diet (not including Atkins).

To slim down, most people (74%) ate more fruits and vegetables, just like the doctor recommends. Many also controlled their portions at meals (71%) and 69% cut back on sugar in their foods and beverages. A less popular technique was eating several small meals throughout the day (34% of peopled tried that), and almost half (45%) took a walk or exercised instead of sneaking a snack.

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When asked what motivated them to stay on the straight and narrow, 76% imagined how much better they’d look and feel after the weight came off. Almost as many (75%) considered the health benefits of weight loss.

A technique that worked best for the respondents was reminding themselves about the progress they’d made, and those those who did that tended to stay on their diets longer than those who didn’t. A food and exercise diary is good for tracking progress, as are any number of computer programs and smartphone apps that allow you to track your progress. Dieters in the survey said they’d used tools such as diaries and online weight trackers in addition to apps.

Every diet regimen is bound to have its roadblocks; obstacles that derailed these dieters included feeling frustrated about working their regimen into their daily life, not liking the taste or variety of foods allowed on the plan and disappointment that their favorite foods were verboten.

There was more encouraging news from the survey: Those who were on and off programs said the experience caused them to adopt better habits such as eating more fruits and vegetables, being more aware of how many calories were in the foods they eat, and exercising more.


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