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Despite our best efforts to lose those extra pounds, the fact remains – sometimes there are factors working against us in our everyday lives.

But through knowledge and good habits, we can tear down those barriers and get the results we're looking for. Here are four pitfalls that you should look out for in your weight-loss quest:

1. The dine-out dilemma

Dining out used to be only for special occasions. But nowadays, the average American dines out four to five times per week. Eating at a restaurant means it's harder to control the amount of fattening ingredients used to prepare your food, let alone your portion size.

The solution: Don't be afraid to ask your server to modify your order by splitting your meal into two. Just put half your meal into a doggy bag before you dive in. Try making more meals at home, too, where you can more easily manage how much you eat. And speaking of portion size…

2. Bigger isn't better

Portion sizes have ballooned over the years. Need proof? A bagel used to contain 140 calories. Now it's typically closer to 350. That's a 150 percent increase! And breakfast foods aren't the only things supersized. A serving of meat should be three ounces, or roughly the size of your palm. Today, it's often closer to a half-pound.

The solution: Eat smaller portions, use smaller plates and don't eat to the point of uncomfortable fullness. You can also proportion your plate by using one-quarter of it for meat, one-quarter for grains and half of it for vegetables. For a reference on recommended portion sizes, visit www.choosemyplate.gov. (Learn more on portion distortion.)

3. Convenience is not always key

Convenience foods – those that are quick and easy to eat on the go – are also extremely calorie dense and often high in preservatives.

The solution: If you must eat when you're short on time, choose portable foods that are better for you. Toting a baggie with carrot sticks, apple slices or a handful of almonds or taking a yogurt for the road will give you more nutritional bang for your buck. Think about it this way: five minutes of prep time the night before will be well worth the feel-good vibes of a slimmer and healthier you in the long run.

4. Time is of the essence

Rarely do we set aside enough time (on a Sunday evening, for example) to prepare our meals for the week. But doing so may be the key to eating well Monday through Friday.

The solution: Preparing large quantities of food in a crockpot and freezing them means you can eat healthy, hearty foods even if you're on a tight schedule. You can even involve the kids in your pre-planning meals and grocery shopping ritual, so that they learn healthy food habits early on.

But remember: while these may be barriers, we shouldn't be using them as excuses. You control the choices you make. Try to keep in mind that losing weight and eating right aren't about one long list of "don'ts." In fact, here are some helpful "dos" to get you started:

  • If time is a challenge: There is an abundance of healthy meal delivery service options available. Do some research to find one in your local area.
  • If food repetition gets you down: Plan at least one week, if not a month, of meals at a time. The initial time investment will save on meal planning and grocery list writing in the end.
  • If the grocery store is too tempting: Stick to a list. Always go into the market with a clearly defined list of items to keep you from wandering and making unhealthy impulse buys. Also, avoid shopping on an empty stomach, which is a sure way to sabotage your attempt to choose healthier options.

For more tips on how to live healthy and be well, visit henryfordlivewell.com

Pat Jurek, RD, MBA, is the manager for Henry Ford Macomb Hospital's Center for Weight Management. Passionate about preventive disease management, Pat became a registered dietician to help people live long, healthy lives.

​This story is provided and presented by our sponsor Henry Ford Health System.

Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.

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