I’ve never counted the myriad of ways you can mess up your diet, but I know firsthand it’s a lot. That’s because dieting is rarely straightforward; it’s often fraught with decisions that can send your diet spiraling down the drain.
Here are five common dieting pitfalls, along with my solutions to keeping yourself heading in the right direction…no matter what life throws your way.
Food treats are one of the most common diet pitfalls. There’s nothing wrong with having a small dessert after a meal or the occasional sweet treat, but there is something wrong if you look at that treat as a reward for eating well or exercising. Your favorite indulgence should just be part of your overall eating plan. As long as it fits within your calorie and nutrient guidelines, you’re good to go.
A cheat is different than a treat. You throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want for a meal, a day, or even several days. Sometimes you plan the cheat, and sometimes it just happens. I’m not a fan of cheat meals or days; it implies your diet is something that needs cheating on. Don’t look at your diet that way. Instead, see it as a way to lose weight, improve your health, and make you feel better about yourself.
In dieting, the amount and type of food are more important than the time you eat, but nighttime snacking can be a big pitfall. Have some chips, some dip, and a little bit of ice cream, and you’ve hit 500 calories without even feeling full. My tip: plan for an after-dinner snack. Save some calories for later in the evening, and it won’t matter if you have a midnight snack or not.
Eating Exercise Calories
Exercise is great, but it doesn’t give you free reign to eat whatever you want. After all, exercise calories help your weight loss move along a little quicker, so if you eat them all back, you’ll lose weight more slowly. Even worse, if you overestimate how many calories you burned, you can end up stalling your weight loss.
Potluck Meals and Buffet Lines
A lot of overweight and obese people enjoy potluck meals and buffet lines. And I used to be one of them. It was acceptable to eat as much as I wanted without feeling any judgment. But when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to move away from feeling enjoyment at overeating. If you must go to a potluck meal or restaurant with a buffet line, limit yourself to one plate. Don’t go back for anything except vegetables. Your waistline will thank you later.