The most common dietary mistakes to avoid this Spring

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How to keep your weight loss on track this Spring

When you see clients for weight loss on a regular basis there are a number of common dietary habits and patterns that arise time and time again. Here are the most common dietary mistakes many of us make on a daily basis, and mistakes that are preventing us from reaching the weight and health related goals we have set for ourselves. 

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Overdoing the coffee

It does not matter if it is a flat white, latte or cappuccino, any coffee that contains a significant amount of milk, is also likely to contain a significant number of kilojoules, especially if it is ordered in a large or Grande size. There are several issues with large, milk based coffee. First of all humans do not tend to compensate for liquid calories, which means we do not eat less simply because we have drunk an extra liquid kilojoules. Coffee can also mean that we have a few small breakfasts, especially when we begin the day with a coffee, add to that some extra toast or cereal and then have another coffee on arrival at work an hour or two later. And then for some of us, breakfast has become coffee which can interfere with our natural hunger and fullness signals through the morning. 

Solution – if you enjoy a coffee, enjoy a small sized serve with your breakfast and then wait at least 2-3 hours before you eat again. You can enjoy black tea or coffee without worry.

Eating too much, too late

A typical dietary pattern sees busy people grabbing a quick breakfast or coffee on the run, followed by a light, late lunch and then a series of afternoon snacks and relatively heavy dinner. Unfortunately this eating pattern is linked to weight gain simply as we tend to move much less during the second half of the day and are also less likely to wake up hungry for a good breakfast the next day. For many of us a shift to this schedule is unlikely to happen anytime soon which means some subtle shifts to our food intake patterns will help to reverse the daily cycle of higher calorie eating towards the second half of the day.

Solution – commit to making both breakfast and a good lunch a priority and if dinner will be enjoyed after 8pm each night, keep your portions small and choose lighter options such as salad, grilled fish and vegetables. For some, enjoying a heavier meal at lunchtime is great solution.  

Mindless munching

You know what I am talking about here – picking at the kids leftovers; the slice of cake a colleague offers you at work or the few handful of nuts you munch on throughout the day. Eating you may not necessarily remember doing but the high kilojoule extras that seem to slip in most days. Mindless munching is a habit that tends to gradually creep up on us over time, is often situation dependent and a habit many of us are in complete denial about. If you wonder why you are not losing weight despite eating relatively well simply keep a track of every morsel you put into your mouth over a 24 hour period. You may be surprised how many extras slip in. 

Solution – aim to eat just 4-5 times each day with 2-3 hours in between meals and only water, herbal or black tea or coffee in between. 

Adopting an ‘all or nothing’ diet mindset

Chances are at some point you have started an incredibly strict diet one Monday only to run out of steam by Wednesday afternoon as the hunger pangs and feelings of restriction got the better of you. As soon as any diet feels restrictive, whether it is or not, the brain will respond by focusing on what you are psychologically missing out on. If you are overly restrictive with calories, hunger and cravings will make it very difficult to maintain the restriction for a prolonged period of time. These are just some of the reasons strict diets do not work.

Solution – make positive dietary changes gradually, one at a time. For example, one week focus on eating more vegetables. The next on reducing portions. Here the focus is not on what you can’t do, rather what you can to get results.

Not checking labels

Just because a particular product looks healthy, does not mean that it is and an abundance of food labels telling us about the benefits of packaged foods rather than the cons means we often get sucked into buying foods that are not particularly healthy. 

Solution – a quick scan of an ingredient list will tell you much of what you need to know what processed and packaged foods. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is and as soon as you see extra fats, sugars and additives it is a sign to leave the product on the shelf.