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Diet Danger Zones
On vacation, plan ahead for when you’ll indulge. / Caroline von Tuempling/Getty Images

You’ve stuck to your smart eating plan — plotting meals, loading up on produce, making room for a bit of dark chocolate so you don’t feel deprived — when bam! A diet danger zone puts you to the test. Let us help you escape danger.

At a “health” store: Products with health claims still have calories. “We call it the health halo syndrome: foods that are disguised as good for you but aren’t, such as energy bars that look more like candy bars,” says Kathy McManus, registered dietitian and director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. To escape: Go shopping with a list and stick to it. Shop the store you know best so you don’t accidentally wander up the cookie aisle. Curb any cravings with a light snack before you go.

On vacation: Too often, “our clients vow not to indulge — a difficult promise to make when away from home,” says Deborah Beck Busis, diet coordinator at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Plus, if you have that extra glass of wine, you may feel guilty and eat more. To escape: Create a separate vacation eating plan with room for splurges — like dessert two of the three nights you’re away. “This works, because mentally you were never off your eating plan,” Busis says.

Your kitchen at 9 p.m.: At night, breakfast can seem miles away, thus triggering a pantry raid. To escape: At dinner, fill a small bowl or snack bag with a portion-controlled treat. Then set it aside, turn off the kitchen lights and declare the room closed. Knowing you have a smartly portioned treat to look forward to will help you avoid overeating.

At your goal weight: “Unfortunately, the hardest part is keeping those pounds off,” McManus says. To escape: Don’t stop logging in a food diary. Keep your workout bag ready at all times. And when you make lifestyle changes, ask yourself if you can sustain them for the long haul.

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