1. Lose weight!!
2. Eat better!
3. Lose weight.
4. Clean out the attic.
5. Exercise more (to lose weight!!)
A new client came to me with this list in hand a few weeks back, asking for guidance. “I have other things I want to accomplish,” she lamented. “Please help me.”
While I said that there was not much I could do about number 4, I did promise to help her tackle items 1, 2, 3 and 5. As a nutritionist, it’s my business and passion to help people feel better through eating better, often with the goal of losing weight. Many of my clients have tried to slim down on their own, without long-term success. When I ask a few questions, I typically find that they fell into the same traps that have tripped up countless dieters before them.
To help you avoid the same mistakes, here are 5 of the top dieting mistakes I’ve encountered, and what you can do to combat them. Here’s to you losing weight—and keeping it off—because it’s about time that attic got cleaned out!
Forgoing any meal—especially your morning one—can backfire. Studies show that skipping breakfast increases your risk of obesity. The reason? For one, even if you don’t feel hungry first thing in the morning, if you don’t eat at all you’ll find yourself ravenous by lunchtime. The second reason is that missing out on meals may impact your body’s hormonal response, increasing fat storage and in turn weight gain.
Fast fix: Begin each day with something, even if it’s more of a light snack than a meal. A piece of fruit and slice of cheese or a yogurt with a handful of sliced almonds are easy on-the-go options.
Luckily, we’ve come a long way since the fat-phobic 1990s. But still, many of us revert to our old anti-fat ways when we’re looking to lose weight. It’s true that a gram of fat has more calories than a gram of carbohydrates or protein (9 vs. 4, respectively). But fat also adds flavor and a certain mouthfeel that helps you feel satisfied from your food. What’s more, when manufacturers remove the fat from a product, they often make up for the missing flavor with added sugar. So in the end the calories are not substantially different—sometimes they’re even higher. The difference is the food tends not to taste so great, so you feel unsatisfied and eat more.
Fast fix: It’s OK to go for a low- or no-fat product that saves you a substantial amount of calories without compromising on taste (have you tried nonfat Greek yogurt?!). But read labels to know what you’re actually gaining by reducing the fat in your foods. And don’t skimp on important plant-based fats from olive oil, avocados, nuts, and more, that can actually help with weight loss.
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