Old loop: I ordered the grilled cheese, so why not get the fries, too?


Switch to... One treat at a time. I'm indulging in grilled cheese, so I'll trade the fries for a salad.

Here's How: "The thought pattern is, I've already blown it for today, so I might as well keep going," says Janet Polivy, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. She calls it the "what the hell" effect and says it causes people to devour so much food that they feel they'll never get back on track. To prevent this scenario from playing over and over, Polivy says, you have to redefine your idea of healthy eating. Allow yourself the occasional treat, as long as it's accompanied by smarter food choices like fresh fruit and vegetables. At roughly 500 calories, one melted cheddar on rye a week should hardly make you fat. Habitually tacking on a large order of fries, however, might.

Old loop: I'll just have this one cookie


Switch to... If I can't stop at one or two cookies, I shouldn't have any at all.

Here's How: We stand by the above tip that it's okay to eat your favorite foods, provided you're the type who can stop after a small amount. "One cookie could turn into 1,000 calories or more if you proceed to eat the whole bag," warns Stephen Gullo, PhD, president of the Institute for Health and Weight Sciences. He suggests that you take a step back and honestly assess how you've reacted to your favorite foods in the past. You may discover that chocolate chip cookies trigger uncontrollable cravings but one square of dark chocolate appeases your sweet tooth quite nicely.

Old loop: My husband says I look fat, so I guess I should start exercising


Switch to... I want to get in shape for myself, not for him.

Here's How: Whether or not you need to shed a few pounds, acting in response to someone else's hurtful remarks will breed self-doubt and lower your self-esteem, says Marlene Schwartz, PhD, codirector of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut. To reset your weight loss goals so they revolve solely around you, sit down and figure out how you could benefit from changing your lifestyle. (Writing your thoughts out on paper might help.) If you identify areas that need improvement, talk to your spouse about how he can play a part: Plan low-fat weekly menus together in lieu of eating out, or take walks after dinner instead of watching TV. Alternatively, if you're exercising, eating right, and feeling pretty healthy the way you are, Schwartz says, "tell him that this is his problem, not yours."

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