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Ditch the diet

Magic pills, wacky cleanses, potions, hypnosis… if you're looking for a quick diet fix, your options are endless. But it seems like these dietary games are all hat and no cowboy.

Skipping meals, cutting carbs or buying the latest book doesn't equal a healthy lifestyle. There’s a reason they're called fad diets. They don't usually work and they don't last.

Diets set us up for a bad relationship with food, like a blind date gone awry. We try to persist, even when we know it's not working. Instead love food and realize the healthiest way to eat is actually to eat more. More fruits and vegetables, that is. We need a new way to look at food and have a better relationship with it. A diet is a short-term idea for a long-term issue.

Aim for five servings a day and you'll feel the difference. You’ll have more energy than a 3rd grader on a pixie stick binge—and if you're looking to lose weight, this is the easiest way to do it. Your body actually wants the good stuff, unlike expensive-but-bland diet foods or chalky supplements.

Fruits and vegetables are also low in cost, calories and fat, but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and flavor. It's hard to go wrong when you're fueling your body the right way. There's just so much to choose from: tomatoes, apples, onions, okra, dragon fruit and salsify. And keep in mind, the terms 'healthy' and 'flavorless or boring' are not synonymous. Some of the most memorable and best tasting bites come in the form of fresh whole foods.

Getting five a day isn't as hard as you'd think - there’s no need to keep up with the latest "super food." All this stuff is pretty fantastic. Find what you like and experiment to keep it fun. An easy way to make sure you're getting a variety of nutrients is to shop for a variety of colors. The more color in your cart, the better. If you give yourself options, you'll never feel restricted.

Whatever you do, don't be drastic. If you only eat steamed broccoli and raw carrots, your diet will implode at the faintest whiff of a cheeseburger. Let yourself have the stuff you love, in moderation—a task made easier when you're filling yourself with all the good fiber from more fruits and vegetables.

One last tip: start small. Eat an apple with your sandwich instead of chips or a fruit smoothie for breakfast in place of a bagel. Or try eating all the vegetables on your plate first to take the edge off your hunger. Then go ahead with the rest of your meal until you're full. Keep up these small habits and your body will take over. You’ll crave the good stuff. If you keep it simple, it's easy to start and only gets easier.

Get some help ditching the diet with this delicious chicken soup recipe.