Six Ways to Overcome Diet Mistakes
By Fabiola Castillo
Have you ever stepped on the scale with confidence that you lost belly fat only to discover you have gained a pound? Perhaps you may be unconsciously destroying your diet with one of these six diet-killing mistakes.
It was your New Year’s resolution to eat right and lose weight
. You did cardio kickboxing every day and shunned all the cherry pies. You consumed plenty of fruits and vegetables. The needle on the weigh scale slowly dropped over time.
Now, when you step on the scale, the number is less than what it was when you stepped on it last week. Then the following week, the number is the same as it was two weeks ago. Then you find yourself back at the beginning.
What should you do? Instead of frowning at the sight of the non-budging needle on your weigh scale, start taking charge of this weight loss
slowdown. Now is a great time stop and take a look at what you are doing that is hindering your fat-melting efforts.
Check to see if you are performing any of these diet mistakes. If you find that you are doing any one of these, the good news is that you can fix what you are doing wrong. However, the first step is to become aware of your mistakes.
- Mistake #1—You think you eat less than everybody else. You are overweight yet you live on salads and other diet foods while your best friend eats hamburgers and hotdogs and seems to never gain an ounce.
Look at yourself. Are you really eating less than others? Just because something is good for you or low in fat does not mean that you should indulge in unlimited quantities. According to Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., CDN, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, she claims that “the average consumer is really not aware of correct portion sizes.”
Even the container size can trick many people into eating excessively. In one scientific study, people were given fresh or stale popcorn in different-size bowls. The findings indicate that people consumed 33 percent more when the stale popcorn was placed in a large container than when it was in a medium-sized bowl.
This same idea applies to packaged foods. Research has shown that people eat 20-40 percent more from large packages than they do from small packages. Gans says that a bag of chips may seem like one serving, but really is two or three.
Do this: Remove or take out what you normally eat and measure it. Usually, it is more than you think.
- Mistake #2—You workout and then eat afterwards. Experts advise that it is okay to eat a snack after a good workout to rebuild muscle and replenish lost energy. The problem here is that dieters guess at how many calories they burned off and use that as an excuse to binge on their favorite foods.
It is easy to accept that your hour-long jog burned up at least 800 calories when in reality it was more like 400. Several factors affect your body’s calorie-burning ability such as how hard you exercise, your body’s current condition, and even the weather conditions.
Gans mentions that “to reach your weight-loss goals, you need to exercise and follow a healthy diet.” For instance, walk and forgo the cherry pie.
Your body requires food for nourishment after a hard workout. However, it should be food that is high in fiber and lean protein.
Do this: Prepare a slice of whole wheat bread with some natural peanut butter spread onto it. Having a prepared snack on hand can prevent a trip to the snack vending machine following a workout.
- Mistake #3—You eat foods you crave the most. When you engage in healthy eating, most of the foods you crave are forbidden. This increases your yearning for such foods. Eventually, the cravings win out and you give in by eating too much of a favorite food. Then guilt follows. Then you are back on your diet plan and its strict rules, which, in turn, signal the cravings to start all over again. The process repeats itself again and again.
Depriving yourself of food sets you up for failure. Gans claims that to “never eat sweets again is unreasonable. There should be no forbidden foods on a diet.” You need to eat higher-calorie foods less frequently.
If you love cookies and can not let them go, try eating just one cookie a week and have fruit as a dessert on the other days.
Do this: Eat at normal eating times with planned meals and snacks in order to reduce food cravings. Consider a food plan that allows you snacks at certain times of the day such as 3:00 p.m. or just before you go to bed. These snacks will maintain the blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar makes you more hungry and tired and vulnerable to excessive eating.
- Mistake #4—You are sure that your salad does not contain that many calories. This is a common problem when people eat foods that seem healthy but contain ingredients high in calories. What people do not think about are the hidden fats. A person eating a healthy salad does not think about the calories packed in the salad dressing. Or he or she eats vegetables and does not consider the butter or oil used to cook them.
Those who watch their waistlines are confused by the fast-food type salads. One packet of ranch dressing in a McDonald’s Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad contains 490 calories and 24 grams of fat. A McDonald’s hamburger and small fries collectively contain 500 calories and 22 grams of fat. Sure, the vegetables in the salad make a good choice for nutrition. However, in terms of calories and fat, eating a healthy salad is no different than consuming the hamburger and fries.
Do this: Cut the proportion of salad dressing down to one-third the pouch. The ranch dressing you are given is normally more than what you really need. If you do not like a restaurant’s choices of low-calorie dressing, consider bringing your own premeasured portion of salad dressing to ensure you know how many calories you are putting on your salad.
- Mistake #5—You eat out too often. If you are the kind of person who eats out a lot, you are not very serious about losing weight. Even if you believe that you are eating healthy at restaurants, a few big things work against your weight loss efforts.
First of all, restaurant portions are too large according to Gans. It is possible that you are consuming twice the calories you would if you made the same meal at home.
Second of all, you go to the restaurant hungry and eat more than enough bread while waiting on your food.
Another possibility is that people want to spend a lot when they go to a restaurant. When you eat out a lot, your caloric intake also escalates. Your best bet to stay at home and prepare your meals there.
Do this: When you do go out, eat a cracker or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. Consider ordering two light appetizers in place of an appetizer and the main course. You can also split an entrée with your dining partner.
- Mistake #6—If losing weight takes too long, you give up. Losing 12 pounds a week may happen on TV, but not in real life. With many diets, expect to lose 1-2 pounds a week. If you find that you are not losing weight, then change what you do. That means you need to cut more calories, or beef up the intensity of your exercise or the amount of time you do it.
Sometimes, you might need to take in a few calories to lose weight. This DOES go against your game plan. However, diets too little or too low in calories can actually slow down your metabolism. Your body will think it is starving and begin to conserve energy. For that reason, eating small healthy snacks each day may help to elevate your metabolism so that you can burn off more calories.
Do this: Weigh yourself ever week. Research shows that weighing yourself regularly can be helpful. Do not weigh yourself too much such that the figures on the scale detract you from your aim in obtaining a healthy lifestyle.
Follow these simple tips and you will be well on your way to achieving the weight-loss goals you dreamed about.