A healthy diet requires work and planning, whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain it. If you are struggling to meet your weight goals despite healthier lifestyle habits, you may need to take a serious look at your diet. From the common “portion distortion” to eating too many extra flavor enhancements, there are numerous ways your diet may be sabotaging your weight loss goals. Consider the top nine habits that can ruin your diet and make adjustments for better long-term success.
1. Underestimating Portion Sizes
Incorrect portion sizes are one of the most common diet wreckers. Even athletes and nutrition-savvy shoppers can fall prey to eating too much. The fact is that you need less food than you really think. The American Cancer Society recommends that meat doesn’t exceed the size of a deck of cards, and carbs are no larger than size of a computer mouse. Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up at least half of your meal. Also, trade in dinner plates for salad plates to control portion sizes. Make it a point to eat at the table, as mindless eating in front of a television or computer can distract from natural signals of fullness.
2. Eating Too Fast
With a busy schedule, it’s hard not to scarf down your meals and snacks. However, eating too fast is linked to consuming more food than you need. The American Academy of Family Physicians says it takes 20 minutes for your body to realize you’re full. So eat slowly and only go back for seconds if you’re still hungry after 20 minutes have passed.
3. Not Keeping Good Records
Food diaries take a little time to use, but the benefits are undeniable. Without keeping records of eating habits, you can grossly underestimate the amount of food you really eat, as well as how often you slip up. If you’re not a fan of the traditional food diary, consider an app version for your smartphone
4. Eating Too Many Healthy Foods
Healthy eating requires a refrigerator and pantry makeover. If you’re stocked up on whole foods, you’re headed in the right direction. However, if you’re eating too many of these foods, your calorie intake may still be in excess. In this case, even going healthy can translate into too much of a good thing. Remember to keep tabs on your portions and to eat slowly to avoid over-eating any food.
5. Too Many Liquid Calories
The occasional glass of wine, morning cup of juice and splash of creamer in the coffee doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the truth is these extra calories can quickly derail your diet plans. Plus, the added sugars can disrupt your satiation signals and make you hungrier later in the day. Drink more water instead – this will help stimulate weight loss without all the extra calories.
6. Abusing Condiments
Condiments are an easy way to enhance flavor. From all-American ketchup and mayonnaise, to fatty salad dressings, it’s likely that you use at least one condiment per day. However, these supposed flavor enhancers can add significantly more calories to your meal, thereby making weight loss difficult overtime. Controlling portions can help, but ditching fattening condiments are your best bet. Trade in ketchup for calorie-free mustard to add a kick to your favorite meals, including Dijon. Making your own salad dressings can also save on calories, as well as added sugar and sodium. Try a simple concoction of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for a heart-healthy salad sidekick.
7. Using Food for Rewards
Unfortunately, this habit may have been passed down to us from our parents – now you may celebrate small victories in the form of sweets, a meal out, pizza or alcohol. However, when you use these rewards to treat yourself for a job well done in your weight loss plan, you risk undoing all the work you’ve done to get there. You should reward yourself for your weight loss victories, but focus on methods that can help you achieve your goals. New workout gear, a massage and a trip to the mall are all examples of diet-friendly weight loss rewards.
8. Ignoring the Rule of Moderation
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s smart to keep junk food out of sight. However, if you deprive yourself completely, you may binge on these off-limits foods. Paying attention to your body’s needs will lead you to diet success in the long-term, even if this means having a small chocolate bar or a cup of ice cream once in a while. Understand that these cravings are natural, and make sure you adjust your meals as necessary to accommodate these occasional higher calorie treats.
(Also read: Fatty Foods That Have The Power To Make You Skinny.)
9. Taking in More Energy Than Needed
While eating is an enjoyable activity that should be filled with tasty foods, the primary purpose of mealtime is to gain energy to sustain your body. Nutrients help power you through your day, while also making sure your body is able to perform its basic functions to keep you healthy. Taking in too many calories means you’re also consuming too much energy. Some days you might not use as much energy as others, and your eating plan should reflect this. For instance, you may need as many calories on days you don’t work out compared to the days you’re training for a marathon. Make adjustments so you don’t eat more calories than you need – excess calories are stored as fat.
Dieting is one of the most challenging aspects of weight management. Not only is it a calorie game, but good habits are required in order to maintain your weight for good. By tackling bad habits now, you can achieve better success in managing your weight for life.