Dieting — it seems like it should be easy, right? Well, plenty of people fail to meet their weight-loss goals, even though they think they’re eating a healthy weight-loss diet. Why? They’re probably making one of these common dieting mistakes.
Overeating Healthy Foods
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that if a food is good for you, you can’t eat too much of it. That’s not true. Even healthy foods contain calories, and when it comes to weight loss, it’s not what you eat that matters, it’s how much.
You could lose weight eating nothing but junk food as long as you limit your daily calorie intake. So remember to pay attention to how many calories you’re eating each day. If you’re taking in more calories each day than your diet recommends, you’re going to gain weight, no matter how healthy the foods.
Going on Crash or Fad Diets
Fad diets don’t work. Sure, you might be able to lose a lot of weight quickly by going on a crash diet, but you’ll likely gain it back again and then some.
Not only that, but fad diets are dangerous. Many fad diets, like those that recommend eating only one type of food, can lead to nutritional deficiencies or other medical side effects, such as dehydration. In any case, you’ll be prone to cravings and vulnerable to bingeing.
Skipping Meals or Eating Too Little
Many dieters think that they can “save up” calories for a splurge later by skipping meals. In fact, skipping meals only causes you to overeat more readily later in the day.
Eating too few calories per day is a similar dieting mistake. You should eat at least 1,200 calories per day, and you should space them out so that you have a meal or snack every few hours. If you don’t eat enough or often enough, your metabolism slows down. You begin to lose muscle mass as your body starts to burn muscle tissue, rather than fat, for fuel.
Beverage Calories Count
One of the most common diet stumbling blocks comes in the form of calorie-laden beverages. Our bodies didn’t evolve to receive calories from beverages, so the calories we drink don’t affect our feelings of hunger.
Most people are sufficiently aware of beverage calorie counts to realize that beer, soda, and sugary coffee drinks can contain hundreds of calories. But don’t forget that juice, milk, and other beverages that aren’t water can also throw off your diet.
You might be diligently counting each calorie at each meal, but it won’t help much if you spend your days free-range grazing. Planned snacks between meals are an important part of keeping your blood sugar stable and your metabolism humming along while you’re on a diet, but that doesn’t mean you can munch whenever you want. Just four mouthfuls of food can contain 100 calories, so keep that in mind when you’re tempted to diverge from your regularly scheduled snack times.
Taking “Days Off” From Your Diet
Giving yourself an occasional treat is an important part of making a healthy diet sustainable over the long run, but that doesn’t mean you should spend entire days gorging yourself on whatever you want. While many people believe that taking a day or two off every week — often on the weekends — is a hard-earned reward for eating well throughout the rest of the week, dieting doesn’t work like that.
Dieting isn’t about punishment and reward; it’s about making a commitment to live a healthier lifestyle every day. Eating right all week long is great, but taking the weekends “off” to stuff yourself with cheeseburgers, pizzas and fries not only sabotages your weight loss efforts, but reinforces the idea that dieting can’t be sustainable. Instead, make reasonably portioned treats a regular part of your diet.
For a long time, it was believed that a healthy diet included very little or no fat, but that’s no longer the case. Doctors and dietitians now distinguish between “good” and “bad” fats, and what’s more, it’s now recognized that the body needs some fats to function. Fats stabilize your blood sugar and help you feel full.
You should try to eat only unsaturated vegetable fats, like those found in nuts and seeds. Canola and olive oils contain healthy fats and so does seafood.
About the Author: Erik Hampstead is a sports nutritionist based in Los Angeles and a regular contributor to DiettoGo.com. When not working with clients or writing for the Web, Erik enjoys surfing, hiking and snowboarding. He encourages his readers to click here for healthy diet options.