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Escape this trio of stealthy diet wreckers

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Ever wonder why you ordered the four-cheese pizza with pepperoni and sausage instead of that great-looking salad? Or why you can’t keep your hands off many of those adorable 100-calorie snack packs? Everywhere you turn there are sneaky temptations that can bamboozle your best intentions. Watch out for these three diet deceivers:

Unhealthy foods masquerading as good stuff. Don’t let clever writing fool you. A healthy-sounding name on a menu or package can make you choose something that’s higher in sugar and fat than you really want. Guilty offenders: Candies called “fruit chews,” sugary shakes promoted as “smoothies,” salty/fatty snacks labeled “veggie chips,” and oily noodle dishes flecked with a few carrots and broccoli bits that call themselves salads.

Cute mini-packs that look irresistible. Bite-sized, 100-calorie treats can be a great way to get a little taste of your favorite snack. But they also can make your mind play tricks on you. If you’re working hard to lose extra pounds, mentally classifying them as skinny food often leads people to eat nearly twice as many calories as you would in a small portion from a regular package!

Healthy menu choices that let you off the hook. Sounds crazy, but just seeing menu options described as “dieter’s delight” or “reduced calorie” or “healthy” leads some weight-conscious folks (you?) to indulge in a double bacon cheeseburger or giant bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. Somehow, just being near healthy choices tricks your brain into thinking you’ve made one. Don’t be fooled: See “healthy” and order it, not its high-fat neighbor on the menu!

Nine ways to prevent cancer now

If all our readers out there were typical Americans, at some point your doc would be delivering some pretty sad news about cancer to half the guys and one-third of the ladies.

Fortunately, we don’t think that’ll happen. Why? Because you’ve been paying attention when we tell you that small lifestyle changes can cut your risk of the big C by nearly a third (!). Just in case your memory isn’t what it used to be (whose is?), here’s a refresher on the best ways to prevent cancer.

  1. Give tobacco the boot. Firsthand or secondhand smoke, it’s all out of hand. Quit.
  2. Load up on fish, fruits, vegetables and 100 percent whole grains. We do. These low-cal, high-nutrient goodies reduce all kinds of cancer risk (heart disease, too).
  3. Cut bad fats and meat. The saturated fat (and calorie overkill) in red meat and full-fat dairy encourage colon and prostate cancer (and all kinds of other trouble).
  4. Watch your waist. Staying slim cuts down on breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney cancer.
  5. Move it. Just a brisk 30-minute walk daily fights colon and breast cancers.
  6. Go easy on alcohol. No “Cheers.” More than one drink a day (two for guys) ups your odds of breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver cancer.
  7. Block that sun. SPF 30 sunscreen, hats, coverups and shade will save your skin. Literally.
  8. See your doc. Get screened for skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast cancer.
  9. Zap cancer-causing viruses. Get vaccinated against hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus).

    The key to better ZZZs: Working out early

    If you love waking up with a smile on your face and that “Wowie, I just had an amazing night’s sleep” feeling, here’s a great way to get it more often:  Exercise early in the day.    

    That’s right. You’ve probably heard that exercise is important for deeper, more refreshing slumber. Totally true. A workout helps you nod off faster than some sleep drugs do (and it’s way healthier!). Fit in some physical activity, and you’ll also have fewer of those annoying 3 a.m. wake-ups.

    Conventional wisdom says ending a workout three hours before bedtime is early enough to let your body and mind settle in for the night. But brain scans (can’t argue with those!) show that morning exercise is even better. Compared with midday or early-evening workouts, hitting the pavement, the pool or the bike around 7 a.m. will help you spend 75 percent more time in deep sleep and let you cycle through the four stages of sleep more often. That’s important, because you need to hit all the sleep stages several times a night to keep your energy level high, your mind sharp and your body lookin’ good.

    Of course, there’s more you can do for stellar slumber. Skip high-saturated-fat meals in general, but especially at dinner. Avoid alcohol; it may make you feel sleepy at first but it messes with deep sleep later. Nix caffeine after noon, keep your sleep zone dark, cool and comfy, and banish stress-boosters from your boudoir (no bill-paying, TV or email in bed!).

    The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

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