Do Those Touchy-Feely Diet Strategies Really Work?

It takes a healthy dose of skepticism to navigate the self-help sections of bookstores, what with weight-loss bestsellers ridiculous touting meal plans.

woman drinking juice from a straw
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Talk Yourself Slim
If you change the words you use to talk about your body and nutrition, you'll be more likely to lose weight, according to Every Word Has Power, by Yvonne Oswald. We don't think we'll be calling our Cheetos "empty filler food" any time soon, but Larson finds substance in the theory. "Positive self-talk about our bodies or healthy food choices reinforces positive behavior," she says.
Taghi Naderzad
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Daily Affirmations
Change Almost Anything in 21 Days, by Ruth Fishel, claims that if you write possible and personal wishes in the present tense 10 times a day, for 21 days— "I weigh 120 pounds and I can maintain my weight easily"—you’ll be motivated to make your wish come true. Our expert was dubious: "Is saying you weigh 30 pounds less than you do a positive affirmation?" asks Larson. "Sounds more like denial."
Taghi Naderzad
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Tell All Your Friends
Though we can't stand friends who talk non-stop about their diet regimens, their candor may be helping them slim down. One of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to others, according to Jack Canfield's The Success Principles. Problem is, catty friends can sometimes sabotage even the most well-meaning dieters. Larson suggests being discreet with your plans unless you're sure your confidantes will support your efforts.
Philip Gay
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Look Good for Yourself
Who hasn't crash-dieted in advance of a hot date? Bad idea, and not just because it rarely ever works. The more you try to impress people with your image, the less you will, declares The Essential Laws of Fearless Living, by Guy Finley. The book advises us to rid ourselves of spotlight-hogging motives, which inevitably lead to disappointment. Larson says eating habits shouldn't be influenced by anything but the rumbling in your stomach: "Eat to fill your physical hunger, not the emotional void that cannot be filled with food no matter what or how much you eat."
Vika Vatter
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Mental Pictures
Last year's mega-bestseller The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne (and a slew of its copy-cats) maintains that having a mental picture of your ideal self will motivate you to morph into that person. Larson says this strategy may pay off, but only if you have a realistic picture of your ideal self. (Translation: envisioning Giselle Bündchen won't work.) "I would rather encourage women to mentally picture themselves healthy and physically strong to live a long, happy life," she adds.
Taghi Naderzad
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