Changing your eating habits and trying to eat healthy is hard – finding out that your best diet efforts have been failing you is even harder! Don’t let this happen to you, read below to learn the most common diet mistakes.
You’re waiting too long to eat
If you are skipping meals or waiting longer than 5 hours to eat, there is a very good chance you will binge on the next meal. Make sure to eat three or four large meals and have a snack on hand in case you get held up and won’t be able to eat again for a while.
You’re snacking too much
Just like waiting too long to eat is not good, snacking too much is also a recipe for overeating. Think snacking constantly revs your metabolism? Eh, the research on that is pretty limited. Rather than snacking constantly throughout the day, make three or four big meals that actually fill you up enough so that you are not constantly thinking about what you are going to eat next. The best snacks contain a combination of protein, fat, and/or fiber.
You’re not checking serving sizes
Serving sizes are key when it comes to a healthy diet because anything in excess is not good for you. Understand how much a serving size is for all foods you consume so that you are not unknowingly taking in way more than you realized.
Note that there are exceptions to this rule. You do not have to track servings of foods such as vegetables, eggs, chicken breast, or egg whites because your body burns these foods quickly and they are very hard to over consume – have you every felt bad about eating too many eggs? Didn’t think so 😉
Read more about foods most likely to be burned for energy rather than be stored as fat here.
You’re eating too much fruit
Eating cups and cups of fruit is not doing you any favors. Yes, fruit is healthy. HOWEVER, fruit it also very sweet and is high in sugar. Stick to 1/2 cup serving size and go for lower sugar fruits like berries and melon.
Personal experience: In practice I see this all the time where a patient continues to have elevated blood sugar and elevated weight even with an improved diet, and in the end it was the overconsumption of fruit that was the culprit.
Note that the good thing about eating whole fruit is that it at least has fiber to help slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream, unlike fruit juice or candy.
You’re eating dried fruit
If you think fruit has a lot of sugar, dried fruit has about 10 times as much sugar! Dried fruit is nothing more than sugar-coated candy. Do not be fooled into thinking you are eating healthy when you dig into a bag of dried fruit.
You’re doing a juice cleanse
Doing a juice cleanse might sound healthy, but it actually backfires big time for a few reasons. First of all, juices are high in sugar (unless it is all leafy greens) which raises blood sugar, makes you hungrier quicker, and is most likely to be stored as fat. Another reason is that only consuming juice for a day or longer is going to slow your metabolism and cause you to lose muscle due to lack of calories and lack of protein. So even if you do see your weight drop after a cleanse, you better believe that weight is going to shoot right back up and maybe even higher than with what you started with!
Professional experience: I’ve seen this all the time where a patient does a juice cleanse or some other crash diet, and when we check their weight it does typically go down right after. Unfortunately, when we check the fat and muscle content we see the fat go up and the muscle go down.
Swear that you feel great after a juice cleanse? This is most likely due to what you aren’t consuming during the cleanse, so take that info to re-evaluate your current diet.
You’re eating “natural sugars”
Sugar is sugar and once it is in your body your body does not care whether that sugar is table sugar or honey – it all turns to sugar when it goes into your body.
Sweet tip: If you want to sweeten a meal, use whole fruit to sweeten it rather than a sugary syrup so that at least you are getting fiber and nutrients from the flesh of the fruit.
You’re not eating enough
Not eating enough is one of the worst things you can do to yourself on a diet because it slows down your metabolism, makes you feel irritable, and it can – and likely will – make you overeat later.
So how do you know if you’ve eaten enough? Allow for 20 minutes to pass after eating a meal because it takes that long for your stomach to message your brain that you are full. Also stick to a low sugar, adequate carb diet because sugar and carbs can make you hungrier.
You’re not eating enough protein
Protein is king when it comes to diet. Protein keeps you full, speeds up metabolism, burns the most calories, and builds muscle. Aim to get a gram of protein per pound of body weight.
My favorite protein-rich foods include eggs, egg whites, chicken, grass-fed beef, whey protein, wild salmon and fish.
You always choose a salad
First let me say that I love salads and salad is usually my go-to. That being said, you have to be very picky with salads because a salad can become a diet disaster quickly from the dressing to the fried wontons, to the dried cranberries etc. The flip-side of an unhealthy salad is a salad with not enough in it, leaving you hungry and making you overeat later. So how to choose a healthy salad? Make sure it has a protein (non-fried or breaded) and healthy fat such as avocado.
You’re eating too many nuts
Nuts are great for you – in small portions. A serving of nuts is 1/4 a cup, which really isn’t much and most of us will eat triple this amount if not paying attention. This can lead to hundreds or even thousands of extra calories your body does not need without even realizing it.
Measure out a serving of nuts and use a small bowl or plate to eat from.
Eating too much after a workout
Rewarding yourself with a large meal after a workout is fine as long as the meal is made with healthy ingredients and you don’t overdue it. But when you reward yourself with something you wouldn’t have otherwise chosen like a box of donuts, this is where your efforts will backfire.
The sad truth is that you can’t out exercise a bad diet and you likely didn’t burn as many calories as you thought you did.
You’re treating all calories the same
All calories are not created equal. Your body is much more complex than just calories in and calories out. What you eat affects a wide variety of hormones in your body, and these hormones are what dictate how you burn and store those calories.
Read more here about what foods are more likely to be burned for energy rather than be stored as fat.
You’re drinking your calories
Put down the coffee creamer, sports drink, and the juice. These seemingly healthy drinks are normally loaded with sugar and calories without you even realizing it. Stick to water and whole foods.
You’re consuming too many artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are a problem because studies have found consuming them can actually increase your appetite, can make you crave more sugar, and may even cause your body to store more fat. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners as much as you can and look for foods sweetened naturally if you are craving something sweet. Read more about artificial sweeteners and fat gain here.
Avoid making the above most common diet mistakes and you will be on track to reaching your goals faster!