Many people start their day with diet blunders. Here's how to correct them, with help from Dr. Wayne Andersen, an obesity specialist in Maryland and medical director for Take Shape for Life, a weight loss program:
* Skipping breakfast ... Dieters often use this strategy, but numerous studies have found breakfast eaters are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and make better food choices throughout the day. Even an unhealthy breakfast is almost always better than no breakfast at all.
* ... or eating it too late. Don't wait longer than an hour. "Thirty minutes is ideal," Andersen says.
* Not eating enough protein. You won't stay full long on carbohydrate-rich breakfasts such as sugary cereals or pastries. Choose cereals made from rice, oats, wheat, barley or rye; eggs and low-fat dairy such as yogurt and milk also are good protein sources.
* Skimping on fiber. Fiber is filling enough to lower your overall caloric intake without leaving you feeling deprived. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals and add fruits and vegetables and a handful of nuts and seeds to staples such as cereal and eggs.
* Taking in too many -- or too few -- calories. Most people should aim for roughly 300 to 400 calories per morning meal.
* Not reading food labels. Compare total calories, protein, fiber, sugar and fat content, and pay attention to serving sizes. Remember that some "healthy" foods such as granola and cereal bars can be very high in sugar and fat. If you're eating at a restaurant, check for nutrition facts via online menus.
* Drinking too many calories. Fruit juices and energy drinks, along with many flavored coffee creamers, often are packed with sugar. Water and unsweetened green tea are always good choices.