Common Diet Mistakes and Solutions

Choosing to follow a healthy diet is an important, and often difficult, decision. It can be hugely frustrating if you are not seeing the results you set out to conquer. If this is the case, you might be making one of the following common diet mistakes.

Crash Dieting

The mistake: Crash dieting involves trying to lose as much weight as possible in a short time. Sometimes it works, and you lose weight quickly. However, the lost weight is not only fat. It is just as likely to be lost muscle mass or water. And in the end, this type of dieting can really unbalance your metabolism, making it even more difficult the next time you want to lose weight.

The solution: Find a meal plan that seems reasonable and sustainable, and be willing to lose weight gradually. This will not only be easier to maintain in terms of lifestyle, but it means that the effects on your weight and health can actually last.

Fat-Free Substitutes

The mistake: There are “non-fat” or “low-fat” counterparts for most processed foods, which seem acceptable on a diet. The problem is that diet food manufacturers want to make sure their products are as similar as possible to originals – adding extra sugar, flavorings, preservatives and thickening agents. The foods may be non-fat, but they could be full of sugar or salt and have little-to-no nutritional value.

The solution: Smaller amounts of good, healthy fats in your meals will help you feel satisfied while contributing to your intake of vitamins. Olive oil and nut oils are both good in moderation. If you do need a sweet snack, fresh fruit is your best option.

Under-Eating

The mistake: You may think it easiest to just skip meals. Maybe you miss breakfast, or keep yourself from snacking. Keeping yourself hungry all the time, however, not only can starve you of nutrients, but it makes you more likely to break your resolve. Missing breakfast is especially harmful, as this slows down your metabolism for the rest of the day. Worse yet, going without food can cause an unsafe drop in blood sugar which can actually lead to fainting.

The solution: Eat and snack regularly throughout the day. Always eat breakfast, even if it is a small portion. Have light, low-calorie snacks on hand to help you fight off cravings between meals and prevent you from giving in and ordering fast food in desperation.

Leaving Calories Unchecked

The mistake: You may think you have planned out every calorie of your day in advance, but what about the unplanned things? Consider the morning coffee you had with cream, that soda or the handful of potato chips you grabbed in the break room. Even healthy food can hide thoughtlessly added calories. Fatty, sugary dressings and toppings can result in a salad with a higher calorie count than a sandwich.

The solution: Make a note of everything you eat after you eat it, rather than just what you intended to eat. There are many smartphone apps available to help you count calories. If you prefer a written account, carry a pocket-sized notebook with you.

Cutting Food Groups

The mistake: Some diet plans call for you to skip a food group entirely. Cutting out carbohydrates, fats or sugars seems an easy way to control your diet. This can be extremely unhealthy, however. These foods are known to cause weight gain, but only because they are high in energy. You need this energy, and also the feeling of satiation and fullness that comes from eating these foods.

The solution: Read recommended dietary requirements for your height, your build, your lifestyle and your gender to work out how much of each food group you should be eating. If you find yourself becoming lethargic and sluggish, re-examine the balance of your diet or speak to a nutritional expert.

Dieting Only

The mistake: Even with a carefully balanced and controlled diet, you may fail to see any noticeable change in your weight, fitness or general health. If the only change you have made to your lifestyle is your diet, then you are unlikely to see progress. Other factors, such as lack of exercise and sleep, or too much stress, should also be taken into account when you are trying to lose weight.

The solution: Aim for holistic changes to your lifestyle. Avoid major sources of stress, even if it means putting a project or two on hold for a while. Make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Find a simple exercise regime and stick to it regularly, even if it just walking every afternoon – you can build on it as your health and fitness improve.