Dieting is easy when we discuss it in theory. Eat less, exercise, and be patient. But, when you have to actually put yourself through it, it’s a whole other story and if you’re reading this, you probably know exactly what I mean. I mean if it was easy, everyone would be walking around with supermodel figures!
So why is it so hard? Well, most of the time it’s the habits you have developed over the years that are sabotaging you. Here are four eating habits that are destroying your diet, and what you can do to avoid making these mistakes!
1. You are drinking too many of your calories
It's quite common for the average person to have something to drink while they have a meal. For breakfast, maybe it’s a fruit juice. For lunch, a coffee or a soft drink, and for dinner, likely the same as lunch or even an alcoholic beverage. In any case, these drinks will usually have a minimum of 150 calories in a single serving and up to 300 calories plus!
Liquid calories are generally extremely dense making just a small serving pack a big punch in terms of calories. This leads to you not being full and often wanting more to satisfy your hunger/thirst. For someone dieting on 2,000 calories a day, 300 calories from a drink is not a smart idea if it’s coupled with meals 3 times a day!
Some better options: Black coffee (without sugar!), tea, or water. If you need something sweet, artificial sweeteners such as stevia are great options as well as diet soft drinks and other lower-calorie beverages.
2. Going for the easy options
People generally don’t plan their meals in advance and certainly with other life commitments like work, meals end up having to be convenient and accessible. That’s when hunger takes over the brain and you end up taking a trip to the nearest food joint that ends up being some form of fast food. What ends up happening is first, you don't know how much you are eating as a lot of the times these foods are not labeled. Secondly, even if they are labeled, they are likely very calorie dense and not as filling as a home cooked, “healthier” meal would be leading you to eat more calories to likely feel the same “fullness”.
Be smart: Try to prepare your meals in advance, or at the very least plan what you want to eat that fits into your calorie budget for the day. Look up healthier restaurants nearby or have a list of go-to places that you can rely on when you absolutely need.
3. The “I’ll start again tomorrow” approach
The most common reason most diets fail. You’re good most of the week but the weekend hits, your friends want to go out and have dinner along with a few drinks. That’s when peer pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out) kicks in, and you tell yourself “you’re off the diet just for today”.
Actually, it hurts to say this but it doesn’t work like that. If you’ve eaten over your maintenance calories (calories required to maintain body weight), you WILL gain weight! Especially if you’re in a situation when you say “screw it” and eat everything in sight, you WILL be directly hurting your progress.
Let's be real: If you know you tend to eat more on weekends, eat at a bigger deficit during the weekdays and have a bit more flexibility on the weekends so that on a weekly average, you are still in the deficit. Your body works off averages so figure out how you can make it work.
4. Not eating enough protein and fiber
Think of some classic super high-calorie foods. Rarely it will be the case that they are high in protein or are fibrous. These two macronutrients are VITAL when it comes to satiety and act as fillers when it comes to eating.
There are also numerous other benefits that protein and fiber have individually but the key takeaway is that protein and fiber are more satiating for the calories given the body’s required effort to digest them, and thus serve as a protective mechanism from you eating more.