Diet Saboteurs

We have all heard the famous quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. It certainly describes society’s weight loss efforts.            People often boast they are eating well and exercising regularly, but they’re frustrated that the scale and pant size won’t budge. For every ridiculous diet that falls out of favor, a new one is born. While all of them have markedly different calorie control, they all share a common theme: In order to lose weight, you have to suffer. Without even knowing it, people are falling prey to one or more surprising acts of food sabotage. While a daily Krispy Kreme habit isn’t good middle management, a lot of less obvious pitfalls can easily sneak into a diet and cause calorie overload. Read on to learn easy strategies for steering clear of these stealth dietary missteps.

There is an underlying belief that success resides in willpower, in under-eating and over-exercising. Dieting is not about willpower. If it were about willpower or about just wanting it badly enough, the world would be skinny. Successful weight management is about change and beliefs. We are taught to believe that diets work and it’s we who fail. Could it be that the fault for our never-ending dieting failures doesn’t lie with us as individuals, but rather with how we approach dieting as a whole?

People believe that exercise is the sole answer to weight loss. While there’s no behavior more important to overall health than exercise, in the real world exercise doesn’t drive weight loss.

While exercise may lead us to unknowingly consume more calories as a reward for our exertion than the calories we burned exercising, there is no doubt that exercise does us many good services; and it’s no myth that exercise helps us keep weight off. While exercise alone is unlikely to lead to any dramatic weight loss, we know that without exercise we’re far more likely to regain whatever weight we’ve lost.

Many people see the weekend as a time to cheat on their diets, but those who let their guard down too much could ruin their overall eating plan. A 2014 study in the journal of Obesity found that people who ate 30% more food than they needed over a 2-day period experienced more cravings and hunger on subsequent days than those who took in a quantity of calories closer to their daily energy requirements. The people who stuffed themselves reported a worse mood and took fewer steps per day. So a weekend of gluttony could hinder weight loss efforts.

Having 90% of healthy eating throughout the week is so important. For many people, a small amount or 10% of dietary cheating throughout the week can help to squash the urge to binge come the days starting with S. During weekends, as on weekdays, meal planning is of utmost importance as a strategy for dodging poor meal choices.

A recent study shows that we often automatically view chips or cookies labeled “organic” as the smarter choice. Researchers found that the “organic” label greatly influenced people’s perceptions of the foods. Participants said organic items were lower in calories, lower fat, more nutritious and more flavorful than items portrayed as nonorganic. This could lead to overeating.

Whether ingredients are organic or not, reading labels remains a must to ensure that people choose wisely at the supermarket and consume appropriate portions.

Researchers determined that people are more likely to purchase higher-calorie food if grocery shopping with tired eyes. When healthy subjects shopped while sleep deprived, they purchased an average of 1,319 more calories worth of food than when they hit the supermarket well rested.  This possibly occurs because a poor night’s sleep can cause an uptick in ghrelin, an appetite-stoking hormone.

Getting adequate sleep is always encouraged. If a trip to the supermarket is in the plan, try to hit the pillow earlier the night before.

While there is no shortage of products claiming they will help you to lose weight, there is a complete lack of scientific studies to back up such claims. It may sound counterintuitive, but popping dietary supplements can lead to overeating. A 2014 study in the journal Appetite discovered that when subjects took a pill marketed as a weight loss supplement, they consumed an average of 29% more snacks and sugary drinks in a later taste test than those who popped an identical pill but were told it was a placebo. Authors concluded that supplements could make people feel overoptimistic about their weight loss pursuits, weakening dietary control.

Supplements are an addition to a well-balanced, calorie-controlled diet. No amount of weight loss pills will make up for lousy eating.

Desserts are the downfall of many well-intentioned dieters, especially if that cheesecake or bowl of ice cream is topped with something healthy.  In a 2014 Journal of Consumer Psychology study, a healthy topping added to an unhealthy food base was shown to decrease the perceived calorie content of the dish and resulted in increased consumption. Adding a healthy item to a decadent dessert can dampen feelings of dietary guilt and lead to overconsumption.

Don’t let your guard down if a dessert comes with a scattering of sliced strawberries. Ask yourself what is an appropriate portion of the dessert if it did not come with a nutritious topping; or hunt for dessert recipes that are more nutrient dense like fruit salad or chocolate avocado pudding.

Appetizers can seem rather harmless, but what we choose to start a meal with can make a big impact in the battle of the bulge. Researchers found that diners who began their meal with a 100-calorie salad consumed 21% fewer calories over their entire meal than diners who started by munching on 100 calories worth of garlic bread. It’s thought that eating appetizers not considered healthy can lead people to lose sight of their weight loss goals, causing overconsumption of the second course. On the other hand, an appetizer associated with healthy eating can boost satiety and remind us to put the brakes on overeating.

It’s always a good idea to be wary of pre-meal nibbles, as they can deliver unnecessary calories and stymie weight loss efforts. One option is to choose a low-calorie appetizer such as a small salad, or fruit salad.

Inhaling your food may give you a Buddha belly. An investigation in the journal Appetite showed that subjects who chewed each bite of their lunch sandwich for 30 seconds ate significantly fewer calories 2 hours after the meal than those who consumed their sandwich at a faster pace. Eating slowly allows the brain more time to register fullness, so people are more likely to push away second helpings.

To stick it to hunger, a diet plan should include slowing down to enjoy foods at a more leisurely pace. This can be accomplished by putting your fork down after each bite and thoroughly chewing food. Using chopsticks is another way for eaters to slow the pace. Meals should also be consumed free of distractions such as television. Researchers found that mindful eating can play a big role in appetite control.

Skipping meals has always been discouraged. Skipping 500 daytime calories to “save” up your calories for a meal out can easily lead you to consume 1,500 calories you’d otherwise have been able to happily avoid. Instead of starving yourself all day in order to indulge all night, the real trick is to be thoughtful and organized with your eating throughout the day. Show up to your social meal not hungry, and you will give yourself the ability to appropriately and healthfully navigate the table.

Resource: IDEA Food and Nutrition

Michelle’s ability to wear many hats has made her a valuable asset to the Y.E.S. Fitness team.

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