Did the summer treats leave some pounds too much on your hips?
Simple diet mistakes can derail your best efforts to get back into that favourite pair of jeans or dress. If the scale seems stuck, or your weight drops off only to bounce back up again, there is a chance you could be making one of these weight loss blunders.
- Problem: Relying on Crash Diets
Determined to lose pounds fast, you turn to a crash diet. Perhaps your plan calls for nothing but pineapple or cabbage soup each day. You slash your daily calories far below your daily metabolic needs and sure enough, some pounds melt away . But when you eat so few calories, you train your metabolism to slow down. Once the diet is over, you have a body that burns calories more slowly, which increases the chance that you will regain the weight you lost in the beginning, and likely additional pounds.
Tip: Simply eat more vegetables and some fruits
The best ‘diet’ is one where you get to eat more food, not less. If you eat more vegetables and some fruits, you should not feel as hungry, because these nutrient rich foods are high in fibre and water, which can give you a feeling of fullness. Snacking can be a good thing as long as you choose smart snacks.
Fibre aids digestion, prevents constipation, and lowers cholesterol, and can help with weight loss. Good fibre sources include oatmeal, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, nuts, beans, whole grain foods, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Extra tip: Spice it up.
Add spices or chilies to your food for a flavour boost that can help you feel satisfied. Food that is loaded with flavour will stimulate your taste buds and be more satisfying, so you will not eat as much.
- Problem: Drinking Too Little Water
This is one of the simplest diet blunders to fix. Water is essential for burning calories. If you let yourself get dehydrated, your metabolism drags, which leads to a slower weight loss. Research suggests that adults who drink ten and more glasses of water per day burn more calories than those who drink less. So try adding a glass of water to every meal and snack
Tip: Water against craving
Before you tear into that bag of potato chips, drink a glass of water first. People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger, and end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really all that was needed. If plain water does not appeal to you, try drinking sparkling water flavoured with a slice of lemon, or a cup of fruit-infused herbal tea.
- Problem: Skipping Breakfast
Skipping breakfast seems like a simple way to cut calories, but the result can be increased hunger throughout the rest of the day. This may lead to unplanned snacking at the office and eating a super-sized portion at lunch. But breakfasts that are balanced and high in fibre can reduce hunger throughout the day. In fact, studies show that people who eat breakfast every morning eat fewer calories during the day.
- Problem: Losing Track of Your Snacks
Maybe you count calories meticulously at every meal, but what about all those nibbles in between? There is the bag of pretzels at your desk, the little slice of cake at an office party, and the taste of your child’s ice cream cone. All of this mindless munching adds up, and could sabotage an otherwise well-planned diet.
Tip: Keep a food diary.
A simple pen and paper can dramatically boost your weight loss. Studies show the act of writing down what you eat and drink tends to make you more aware of what, when, and how much you are consuming. This awareness can ultimately lead you to consume fewer calories. One study found that people who kept a food diary six days a week lost about twice as much as those who only kept a diary one day a week or less
- Problem: Not Snacking at All
While mindless snacking can pad your waistline, thoughtful snacking may do just the opposite. People who eat several small meals and snacks a day increase their chances of controlling hunger and losing weight. Snacking helps keep your metabolism in high gear, while going hungry does just the opposite.
Tip: Quality snacks
Whole foods such as fruits paired with protein make excellent snacks. Nuts, seeds, and fruits or raw cut vegetables are a good, high-protein- vitamin rich choice. Research suggests people who snack on nuts and seeds tend to be slimmer than those who don’t.
- Problem: Loading up on Low-Fat
Low-fat products can play an important role in your diet, but remember that low-fat is not the same as low-calorie, and does not give you license to take second and third helpings. If you pile your plate with low-fat cake, you may end up eating more calories than if you had a smaller slice of regular cake.
Tip: The low-fat yogurt food fraud
Most low fat yogurts contain high amounts of added sugar. Some brands add 30 or more grams of fructose, sucrose, or other sweeteners. Compare plain to fruited yogurts to see the difference between naturally-occurring milk sugar and added sugar listed on the nutrition label.
- Problem: Sipping Too Many Calories
When counting calories, many of us tend to overlook the calories in our drinks. This is a big mistake when you consider that some fancy coffees and alcoholic beverages contain more than 500 calories. Even the calories in fruit juice and soda can add up quickly.
Tip: Limit alcohol to weekends
Alcohol contains empty calories: a five-ounce glass of wine has 125, a bottle of beer about 153. Because our bodies do not use those calories well, they usually get converted directly into fat. Enjoy your favourite alcoholic beverage on weekends only, with just one drink for women per day, and two for men.
- Problem: Keeping Empty Calories in Storage
If you have chips in the pantry and ice cream in the freezer, you are making weight loss harder than it needs to be. Reduce temptation by purging the cupboards of fattening foods. Want an occasional treat? Make sure you have to leave the house to get it, preferably by walking.
Tip: Stock your kitchen with healthy, convenient foods.
Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes on hand sets you up for success. You will be less likely to order a pizza if you can throw together a healthy meal in five or ten minutes. Here are some ideas of ingredients to keep on hand: frozen vegetables and fruits, whole-grain pasta, pre-cooked whole grain rice or other grains, quinoa; dried mushrooms, pre-cooked tomato sauce, onions and garlic, canned beans, tuna, sardines, pre-cooked grilled chicken breast, whole grain tortillas or pitas and ready washed and trimmed salad.
- Problem: Weighing Yourself Every Day
Weighing yourself daily is a recipe for frustration, and does not yield useful information. It is more important to look for long-term trends with weekly weigh-ins. If your goal is to lose one or two pounds per week, you will be satisfied to see those full pounds drops when you step on the scale. The result is more motivating than the confusing swings that may accompany daily weigh-ins.
- Problem: Setting Unrealistic Goals
Telling yourself that you will lose five pounds your first week is probably setting yourself up for failure. If you know you will not be able to do it, you may never start your diet in the first place. If you diet and lose two pounds in a week, instead of celebrating, you may feel discouraged that you did not reach your goal. A realistic goal is vital to successful dieting. If you are not sure what your goal should be, talk to a nutritionist.
Tip: Celebrate your success
You lost three pounds this month and walked every other day? Time to celebrate! Rewarding weight loss success really can encourage more success. Set a prize for the next milestone. Just make sure that you do not celebrate with ice cream, chocolate cake, or deep fried chicken!
- Problem: Avoiding Exercise
When you do not exercise, you place the entire burden of weight loss on your diet. If you become more active, you can eat more of the things you like, and still lose weight. The key is finding an exercise that you enjoy. If the treadmill seems too boring, try swimming, dancing, biking, or tennis. Spend time at different activities until you find one you want to do on most days of the week.
Tip: Control Cravings: Take a walk during break times
There is evidence that brisk walking can help you eat fewer sweets. In a study published in the journal Appetite, participants who took a 15-minute walk were half as likely to eat chocolate at their desks compared with those who took a 15-minute rest.
My health and wellness recommendations are always based on international medical research or international accredited guidelines. But they may not apply to everyone, depending on their individual health status, age, sex, gender, genetic, tradition and religion. Nutrition is never an exact Science, because no human being is the same as the other.
Contact Judith@lifestylefoodclinic.com for further information how to create a balanced diet plan.
Judith Coulson is a Medical & Lifestyle Nutrition Coach available for private coaching sessions and corporate wellness workshops