Although cutting back on desserts and checking the calorie and fat grams on food labels is a great start when you’re trying to get rid of those love handles, you may be making some unwise decisions without even knowing it.
If you think that the giant low-fat muffin you have every morning is harmless, think again. Check out the following 18 common diet mistakes and find out whether your eating habits are undermining your efforts.
- You skip breakfast: Whether you eat only a half a piece of toast in the morning or skip breakfast altogether, you are setting yourself up to overeat all day long. A decent breakfast, such as two pieces of whole-wheat toast topped with a teaspoon of peanut butter and banana slices, jump-starts your metabolism and prevents you from stuffing yourself when lunchtime rolls around.
- You don’t track food intake: Although it’s unlikely that you’d keep a “diet diary,” you should still keep track of what goes into your mouth throughout the day. If you don’t, you’re much less likely to control the quality and quantity of food you eat, which can cause you to pack on unwanted pounds without even realizing it.
- You pig out on low-fat snacks: Many low- and no-fat snacks are loaded with sugar to compensate for the lack of fat, which means that they often contain more calories per serving than the original version. Get this: Those jumbo sized, fat-free muffins can pack up to 700 calories! The best way to avoid these diet-busters is to check the labels; a mid-afternoon snack shouldn’t exceed 300 calories, even if it is low in fat. A good choice is whole-wheat pita cut into wedges and topped with a tablespoon of humus.
- You don’t drink water: Besides running the risk of dehydration, which can cause fatigue, dizziness and inability to think clearly, a lack of H20 can lead to overeating due to mistaking thirst for hunger. To avoid this you need to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This may seem like a lot, but it’s really not that difficult if you simply incorporate drinking water into your daily routine. Try a glass when you wake up, another after every time you go to the bathroom, one at lunch and one at dinner, as well as one last glass an hour before you go to bed.
- You always opt for fruit juice: Fruit juice has more calories and doesn’t contain the healthy fiber found in whole fruit. Plus a piece of fruit will make you feel fuller and more satisfied, which may prevent you from overeating at meals.
- You always go for veggie dishes: Although vegetables are low in calories and fat, they’re often cooked in large amounts of oil. In case of “pasta primavera,” which may seem like a healthy choice, the oil-drenched vegetables are usually covered in an equally fatty cream sauce. To avoid all those extra calories, ask the chef to grill or steam your veggies.
- You think the fish sandwich is a safe choice: Think again; the fish is usually breaded, fried and drenched in mayonnaise or tartar sauce, which means that it can contain more fat and calories than a plain burger. Instead, try Subway’s 6 inch chicken sub (332 calories and six grams of fat) or a McDonald’s Chicken McGrill without mayo.
- You avoid snacks: You may reason that the best way to cut back on calories is to stop eating between meals. This is a terrible strategy since you’ll just be hungrier and more likely to overeat come mealtime, just be sure to make healthy choices, such as veggies and low-fat dip or air-popped popcorn seasoned with garlic salt or chili powder.
- You never have dessert: While the key to weight loss is changing your bad eating habits, it’s not a good idea to ban desserts completely. If you never allow yourself to indulge in some of your favorite foods, you’ll feel deprived and end up binging on them later. Avoid this by having a reasonable portion of dessert often.
- You love wraps: First of all, those huge tortillas alone can contain up to 300 to 400 calories. Next, you must take into account all the toppings and the fatty dressings that go into the wrap. That seemingly “healthy” sandwich has now become a diet nightmare. If you really can’t resist, hold the toppings or try making one yourself with a small tortilla and some low-fat barbecue or hot mustard sauce.
- You avoid fat: On top of being important for nutrient absorption and the proper functioning of the neurological and immune systems, fat makes you feel satisfied and full, so you shouldn’t be avoiding it completely. Although the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that your total fat intake should not exceed 30% of your daily caloric intake (saturated fat should not exceed 10%). Just keep in mind that all fats aren’t created equal. Try to avoid eating too many foods that are high in unhealthy saturated fats, such as red meat and fatty snack foods. However, you can eat as much fish as you like; it contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- You don’t eat carbs: Like fat, carbohydrates can’t be avoided altogether; they are your body’s main source of energy and the AHA recommends that they should make up about 55 to 60% of your daily food intake. Another reason to stop avoiding crabs is that high-protein diets are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
- You starve yourself: This isn’t just a chick thing anymore; more and more men are trying “crash diets” in an attempt to lose weight fast. Bad move; if you eat too few calories, you will cause your metabolism to slow down and store the little food you’re giving it as fat. Plus, you may be jeopardizing your health since a very-low-calorie diet carries risks such as gallstones and cardiac complications.
- You set unrealistic goals: Although you may manage to lose four or five pounds during the first week of your diet, this is an unrealistic goal in the long term because it is too difficult to maintain. A healthy, realistic weight loss plan involves losing weight slowly. It is more likely to last; studies have shown that people who lose weight slowly keep it off longer.
- You pig out because you work out: Studies have shown that most people underestimate the number of calories they consume and overestimate the number they burn. Keep in mind that you’re not working out in order to be able to eat more, but rather to shed some pounds and improve your overall health. As aforementioned, you should keep track of what you eat, even on days when you exercise.
- You eat quickly: Since it takes 20 minutes for you to feel full, you’ll end up overeating if you stuff your face before the signal has time to make its way from your stomach to your brain. So take time to savor your food and you may end up losing weight in the process.
- You eat everything: I can’t say this enough; portion control is one of the key elements of permanent weight loss. Although this may be easier to do at home, the temptation is particularly strong at restaurants, where the portions are almost always too large. Ask the waiter to doggy-bag half your food before it is served or split a large dish with a friend.
- You drink tons of coffee: While it’s true that coffee may give your metabolism a temporary jolt, this isn’t a healthy way to lose weight. Drinking too much caffeine can cause dehydration and disturb sleep patterns. Drink water instead.
Don’t be fooled….
If you’re really serious about getting rid of that gut, you must be wary of the eating habits that may be destroying all your weight-loss efforts. By eliminating just one of those bad habits each week, you will end up saving hundreds of unnecessary calories.
Although you may think you just can’t live without your lunch wrap or cannot drink eight glasses of water a day, you’ll find that it’s really not that difficult once you make it part of your routine. Believe me; the results will speak for themselves.