cutting out sugary drinks

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Avoid Artificial Sugars

Carrie Dowling, 31, a self-professed diet-soda addict has lost 15 pounds since reducing both real and artificial sugars. "It's definitely easier to stick to a healthy diet after weaning myself off of diet soda," she says.

The science: "Artificial sugars are like a Band-Aid, or methadone!" says Nicole M. Avena, PhD, neuroscientist, food addiction expert and author of Why Diets Fail (Because You're Addicted to Sugar). "You aren't going to allow your brain to get accustomed to the lack of sugar if you are feeding it fake sugar." She says that non-caloric sweeteners may thwart the body's ability to monitor its caloric intake based on sweetness. In fact, participants in the San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than three diet sodas per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese compared with those who didn't drink diet soda.