Updated September 23, 2008

Every new diet starts with the healthiest intentions, but, inevitably, something derails your game plan. If any of the symptoms below sound familiar, heres your Rx from New York City–based registered dietitian Esther Blum, MS, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous.

“My stomach really hurts from eating all this fiber.”
The cure: Start slow and build up. Dont give up on fiber: Research shows that people who eat more fiber tend to take in fewer calories over the course of a day. But give your body time to adapt and increase the digestive enzymes needed to break down fiber. Blum recommends this plan: Drink 16 ounces more water a day and eat only cooked or juiced veggies, which cuts the amount of bulk while retaining vitamins and nutrients. Slowly add raw vegetables, whole grains, beans, and other high-fiber foods. Limit yourself to no more than 10 to 15 grams of fiber at each meal, aiming for a total of 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Also, try a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme (available at natural-foods stores) after meals and at bedtime if gas is an issue.

“I raid the snack stash when I get home from work because Im starving.”
The cure: Reach for a small, high-protein snack instead. Protein is the fastest nutrient for shutting off the hunger mechanism in your brain, Blum says. Grab some string cheese and a high-fiber Wasa Crispbread, a hard-boiled egg, or a leftover piece of chicken. Keep your portions moderate, though: If you choose meat, a piece the size of a tube of lipstick will take the edge off. Better yet, avoid that famished feeling in the first place by having a 150-calorie high-protein snack three hours after lunch. For more ideas, see “Welcome to Healths Skinny House."

Next Page: I cant stop feeding my cravings during that time of the month. [ pagebreak ]

“I cant stop feeding my cravings during that time of the month.”
The cure: Load up on foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Serotonin levels drop before your period, according to JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, an endocrinologist at Harvard. That drop triggers depression and cravings (usually for sweets). You can preempt the monthly pig-out by eating more coldwater fatty fish (such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, and anchovies) or by taking fish-oil supplements to get more omega-3s, Blum says. Flaxseed and walnuts are also high in omega-3s.

“Something someone said got me down, and I headed straight for the ice cream in my freezer. How do I shake the negativity and get back on track?”
The cure: Put down the pint and pick up the phone. Call a health-minded friend who will smack down that negative comment—without taking you out for a Ben & Jerrys run. “Good emotional support is vital when it comes to curbing emotional eating,” Blum says. Plus, hanging out with other women boosts your brains level of oxytocin, a hormone also associated with hugging and touching. “Its a feel-good, happy chemical,” Blum says, and itll help shake off self-destructive tendencies.

“Im burned out on working out!”
Beat that exercise slump with these tips from Jonathan Ross, American Council on Exercise personal trainer of the year.

  • Find your right time to exercise. Track the points in the day when you feel most alert and productive. Thats the best time to work out because your natural energy is at its peak.
  • Get psyched this way. Schedule a regular group class to show up for, like Spinning or belly dancing. A study published in Preventive Medicine showed that women in group classes stick to fitness routines better than solo exercisers.
  • Lower your expectations. If you dont feel like working out, “move your body doing something you enjoy,” Ross says. It could be as simple as a casual 10-minute walk in a local park.