Find out if you're damaging your diet with the common mistakes that I see my weight-loss clients make on a regular basis. Fortunately, these oversights are usually simple to fix with a little tweaking:
Common mistakes which sabotage weight loss
1 Eating too little
This is a classic dieter's mistake. In a bid to lose weight quickly, you might try to cut your food intake dramatically, thereby consuming too few calories.
If you're not eating enough, then your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolism drops. This leads to plateaus, then frustration, then failure.
By eating frequently, you reassure your body that you aren't going to starve; that food will always be available.
So, the best way to keep your metabolism revved is to eat every three hours i.e, three moderate meals per day along with two healthy snacks.
2 Overeating 'healthy foods'
You can eat too many 'healthy' foods just like you can over-eat any other food.
With the exception of green vegetables, pretty much all foods can be overeaten. Just because a food is good for you, doesn't mean it won't pack the calories and lead to weight gain. For instance, one tablespoon of olive oil has 100 calories.
An avocado is 190 calories and a handful of nuts is 160 calories. In essence, our bodies do not discriminate against excess calories from unhealthy sources versus excess calories from healthy sources; excess is still excess.
Most people underestimate calories eaten and overestimate calories burned.
For example, if you go for a 40- minute walk and then have a latte afterwards, you will replace the calories you just burned. It's estimated that in order to lose one pound a week, you need to consume 500 fewer calories per day than you burn.
This is best done by eating less and moving more, so, for example, cutting out a packet of crisps and going for an hour-long walk would shave 500 calories off a given day.
4 Food pushers
There is one obstacle that almost every person trying to lose weight has encountered and that's the food pusher.
Food pushers are people who get a need within them fulfilled by getting you to eat. They may feel that they're a great host when others eat their food, or they don't like to eat/drink alone so want you to join in, eg: "Ah sure it's only a little piece, sure you're wasting away . . ."
Whatever their reasons, food pushers can sabotage your weight loss plans.
So, practise saying no, politely but firmly and don't feel like you have to justify yourself.
5 Giving in to food cravings too quickly
We all experience food cravings but often we give in to them way too quickly. The next time you have a strong urge to eat something unhealthy, take a moment to stop and think before you act. Acknowledge what's going on and label it. Tell yourself, 'This feeling is just a craving, it's strong and uncomfortable but it's not an emergency and it will pass'.
Find a distracting activity that works for you such as phoning a friend, going for a walk, play with your child, do a chore, write an email etc. You'll be surprised how quickly the craving will subside.
6 Eating out regularly
Most restaurant fare is rife with pitfalls; sauces, dressings and greasy cooking methods pile on calories and fat, making it virtually impossible to eat responsibly.
"Fat is flavour," chefs love to say. That's why that seemingly 'healthy' salmon is drenched in butter, doubling the calories of a lean piece of fish. If you must eat out, avoid anything fried or sauteed, and get all condiments on the side. Or, do your waistline and pocket a favour and cook at home.
Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritionist who offers individual consultations and group courses in various clinics around Dublin. See www.elsajonesnutrition.ie