Today in the United States an astronomical amount of citizens will begin their new diets and exercise routines as part of their goal to lose weight in ‘08.

But are fad diets and diet pills really the way to meet that goal?

Newman Memorial Hospital Dietary Manager Kay Detrixhe says the best advice for losing those extra pounds is to “eat healthy.”

But what is eating healthy? Everyone knows they should be eating broccoli and celery but vegetables alone aren’t much in the way of proper nutrition.

One of the main things to remember are those food groups learned in grade school. The body needs several types of food daily to maintain healthy systems.

Fruits and vegetables are very good for the body but so are grains (yes, carbs!), dairies and proteins.

The trick is not to eat less. In fact, the less you eat the slower your metabolism, and a slow metabolism causes weight gain.

Three meals a day are important. And eating a big breakfast can boost your metabolism for the day so you start out burning calories.

It is also important to remember that, contrary to popular belief, snacking is not of the devil. It is fine to have a light snack in between meals as long as it is fresh fruit or vegetables.

Most metabolisms begin to slow down after 6 p.m. so, if possible, have dinner before then.

Another way to drop those pounds with minimal effort is to say no to soda. Replacing soda intake with water can greatly increase one’s health and also reduce those hunger pangs. Juice is also a good bet, but if it’s not 100% juice, it’s not that much better for you than soda.

Of course, regular exercise is also important for weight loss but you don’t have to start training for a marathon! A twenty to thirty minute brisk walk is enough to keep your heart and body healthy.

Proper sleep hours can greatly enhance energy levels and boost a metabolism. The ideal sleeping hours for healthy living are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. but it is most important to get eight hours of sleep. More or less sleep can make you lethargic.

So, for the New Year, crash diets should not be a consideration. Just slight adjustments to eating, exercise and sleep habits should be enough to make people feel better about their bodies and lives.

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