Some common dieting mistakes that we tend to overlook

Each of us would like to sit on that ‘weight-loss cycle’ and ride it fast. The mountains of information that websites and magazines provide on various diets and their magical benefits lure us to blindly follow them. We try every diet under the sun and punish our bodies but often don’t get the desired results.

What could be putting the brakes on the ‘weight-loss cycle’? Experts point out some common mistakes which are often why our diet fails or does not yield the desired result.

Mistake # 1: Skipping meals

Fact: Skipping meals to lower calorific intake is ineffective in a weight-loss plan. It would trigger the intake of more calories because by the end of the day we would be so starved that we would mindlessly gobble the first thing we laid our hands on.

Kathlene Don Paul, an Accredited Practising Dietician, based in Melbourne, says,

“Ideally, you want to have three main meals with 2-3 small snacks in between. Planning your meals and snacks is a great way of ensuring that you won’t skip lunch (even if you’re busy at work) or buy something you normally wouldn’t from the cafeteria. Choose low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt and high-fibre options whenever possible.”

Mistake #2: Dining out on oversized portions

Fact: Most restaurants serve larger portions than our normal meal. And we consume everything down to the last bite to get maximum value for our money, not taking into consideration what it does to our waistline. Portion control allows us to enjoy dining outside often.

“You’ll be satisfied eating a smaller meal if you start with a light and healthy appetiser such as a soup or leafy-green salad. Consider sharing your entrée, order it as a half portion, or plan on eating only half of it, taking the rest home. You can enjoy any kind of dessert by limiting yourself to three bites,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, celebrity dietician based in New York, who is also a best-selling author and creator of the F-Factor diet.

Mistake #3: Drinking empty calories

Fact: ‘Empty calories’ is a term that describes foods that may be high-energy but which are actually low in nutrients. Beverages with high-fructose corn syrup such as sodas, sports and energy drinks are loaded with calories and should be consumed only occasionally.

Zuckerbrot says, “Read the nutrition label on packaged beverages to know how many servings a pack contains. Canned or bottled drinks often have two servings, and if your drink has 150 calories per serving you’ll consume 300 calories. Your best bet is to stick to diet beverages, fruit juices, tea or water served plain or mixed with citrus slices or zero-calorie flavouring.”

Mistake # 4: Not getting enough sleep

Fact: Research has found a link between sleep and healthy weight. Lack of sleep has been shown to elevate levels of serum ghrelin, our body’s appetite-stimulating hormone, and lower levels of leptin, the hormone that signals our brain that we’re full.

Zuckerbrot says, “Avoid eating a dinner that is full of refined carbohydrates such as pasta or bread and skip sugary snacks such as candy, cookies or ice cream that produce an energy rush when your body least needs it.”

Mistake #5: Racing through the food we eat

Fact: The speed of eating plays a key role in keeping away those extra kilos. Researchers have found evidence over the years that when people wolf down their food, they end up consuming more calories than they would if they eat at a slower pace. One reason is the effect of quicker ingestion on hormones.

Experts say, “Take time to enjoy every morsel and indulge in mindful eating as it would make you feel fuller with lesser calories.

Chennai-based dietician Meenakshi Bajaj, says, “Wrap up the CRAP (Carbonated beverages, Refined foods, Added sugars, Processed food) and eat your way to health every day. It is important to consume dusty grains such as oats, ragi, barley, brown rice and whole wheat which are healthy options.”

For a healthy lifestyle, Kathlene suggests, “You need to make sustainable dietary changes. Set realistic goals and start off with short-term changes, working your way towards long-term ones. Unrealistic goals or promises result in feelings of failure and inadequacy when they are not achieved or maintained, so it’s best to be realistic about your weight-loss goals and potential strategies (not all of us can run a marathon).”