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How to Avoid Six Dieting Mistakes

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Updated February 15, 2014

Woman with plates.

If only all diet decisions were this simple.

Image: © [2008] Jupiterimages Corporation

Diet mistakes can keep you from getting to your goal weight. But you're not alone; many of us are guilty of one -- if not several -- of these dieting faux pas. Here is some simple advice on how to avoid six common diet mistakes.

 

 

 

  1. Mistake: Gulping Down Extra Calories

    Do you start each morning with a couple glasses of orange juice? How about a frothy coffee drink on the way to work? Was that you hitting the vending machine for a sports drink at the gym?

    If this sounds familiar, take note: What you drink can be as important to weight loss as what you eat.

    Some beverages provide as many -- if not more -- calories than a full plate of food. Liquid calories don't satisfy you like food does, and many beverages bring no nutrition benefit. Even if you were to drink 1,500 calories of beverages a day, you would still feel hungry and then overeat.

     

    Solution: Cut Liquid Calories

    Just say no to the followng: sugar-sweetened sodas and other sweetened canned and bottled drinks; flavored and sweetened coffee beverages, such as frappes, lattes and frozen coffee; sweetened tea (hot or iced); and smoothies.


    While juice is healthier than all these choices, whole fruit is preferable to a glass of juice; it has fewer calories and more fiber and is more filling. Water and herbal tea (without adding sugar) are ideal replacements for high-calorie beverages.

     

  2. Mistake: Depriving Yourself

    So you've sworn to lose weight this time around. You rid your pantry of your favorite fattening foods. You sweep the fridge and all bad foods make their way to the trash can. You do okay for a few days. Then, one night, you lose it and eat everything left in the house that isn't a fruit or vegetable.


    No matter how resolved we are to lose weight, we crave treats (especially sweet ones) we are accustomed to. You will eventually get the urge to indulge no matter how well those first few days go.

     

    Solution: Giving in ... a Little

    Swearing off foods you enjoy is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure. It's like a form of torture: Everyone else can eat the things you love while you can't even taste them. How's that going to help you stick to your diet? It won't. Allow yourself a special treat every now and then. Keep your portion sizes in check and you can still have your favorite foods in moderation.
  3. Mistake: Believing Your Genes are to Blame

    You take a look in the mirror and you see your mom. It's not her hair or even her eyes. It's your body. And there's nothing you can do about it. After all, it's hereditary.

     

    The Solution: Get Real!

    Genes do play a role in some cases of obesity. Often you will see family members who share the same body type. But for many of us, the most important factor in weight loss is calories in vs. calories out ... how many calories we eat and how much exercise we get. Even if family members are heavy, there are steps you can take so that you do not share their fate. Working out and strength-training will build muscle and give your metabolism a boost, both of which will help you head off the propensity for weight gain your genes might bring.

     

  4. Mistake: Meal Skipping

    It only stands to reason: If the key to losing weight is cutting calories then why not cut a bunch at once by skipping a meal? If you skip meals when you're trying to lose weight, you're doing yourself more harm than good. Meal-skipping can cause your metabolism to nosedive. That will set you up for sluggish calorie-burning all day long and ravenous hunger and overeating at night.

     

    Solution: Don't Be a Skipper

    Most meal-skippers forgo breakfast. It seems to be the easiest meal to do without. But in reality, breakfast may influence weight loss more than any other meal! If you aren't hungry first thing in the morning, have something small. Do you actually forget to eat in the a.m. hustle and bustle? Set an alarm to go off some time after you normally rise to remind you to stop, take a breath ... and eat.

     

  5. Mistake: Giving in to a Food-Pusher

    You've met her. She pushes doughnuts on unsuspecting office mates. She brings cupcakes for the bookgroup while only tasting the icing herself. She hands you the takeout menu when you've already told her you brought a brown bag. Who is she? She's a pusher! A food pusher, that is.

     

    Solution: Put Yourself First

    Whether office baked goods temptress or the well-meaning Mom who suggests seconds of her best dishes, some people just refuse to take "no" as an answer. They probably don't even realize they are making your weight loss efforts that much harder. Learn how to say no in a way that works. You may have to distance yourself from the "pusher" for the time being. Sometimes it's better for all parties concerned.

     

  6. Mistake: Giving Up On Losing Weight Your Way

    Sometimes, telling your friends and family you are on a diet can actually backfire. If they don't understand your diet or think they know a better way to lose weight, it can lead to unwelcome input or even arguments. You get to the point that you want to throw in the towel.

     

    Solution: Keep it Under Wraps

    Only you know what works for you. So keep doing what works for you. There's no rule that says you have to tell friends or family that you're trying to lose weight. Weight is a personal issue. It's your prerogative to keep it that way.
 

 

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