Having trouble losing weight or keeping it off? See how many of these sneaky behaviors that make you gain weight are part of your daily habits.
Using Food as a Reward
Whether food is your “reward” for completing a killer workout, an assignment at work or because you ate well all week, people who “reward” themselves with food have a harder time losing and maintaining a healthy weight because their “treats” add up and their daily calories exceed what they need. It’s also a sign that you eat for emotional reasons rather than because you’re hungry.
Trying to Be a “Perfect” Eater
“Chronic dieters often adhere to strict all-or-nothing diets that are too restrictive and unrealistic. It’s like trying to walk on a tightrope for life, which explains their lack of success. We all will eventually fall off,” explains Marcia Crawford, MS, RD. Instead of thinking of a strict eating plan that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, focus on strategies that you can, with a little work, realistically live with.
You need to expect slip-ups to happen when you’re losing weight, so how you deal with a bad day, week or month helps predict success. Individuals who can lose and maintain weight loss can be flexible enough with themselves to bounce back to healthy eating. Think: Life Happens or as I like to say, #$%! Happens! And start fresh tomorrow.
Related article: Overeating SOS
Not Having a Clue About What You Eat
I don’t know how many people tell me that they just can’t lose weight, and they’re eating perfectly. When I ask them, “What did you eat yesterday?” most can’t tell me what they ate 10 minutes ago! When we really delve in to their diet, they see all the little nibbles and extra calories that they’re mindlessly eating. To keep honest, try to weigh yourself at least once a week and track everything you eat and drink at least 5 days a week. There are several great free online sources for tracking your diet, including MyFitnessPal and SparkPeople.
Related article: Win at Losing
Expecting Too Much, Too Soon
Chances are you didn’t gain 10, 20 or 50 pounds overnight so don’t expect your body to shred the pounds. It’s easy to lose motivation when you’re trying hard and aren’t seeing results on the scale but stick with it. Regardless of what you see on TV (ie, Biggest Loser) or read in the Hollywood tabloids, weight loss is a long, often slow, process. “Think: This is a journey not a destination,” says Theresa Gilbert, RD.
Eating While Doing Something Else
If you eat and do anything else at the same time, you’ve got a seriously bad habit to address. There’s significant research showing that adults and children who have the most screen time, (computer, smart phones, videos, TV) are more likely to be overweight or obese. But scientists say it’s not because they get less exercise.
Studies show that distracted eaters gobble up to 100% more after a meal compared to distracted eaters, and those who watch TV and eat consume 20-100% more calories compared to individuals who eat without distractions. While at the same time, distracted eaters reported being less satisfied. To increase satisfaction of meals and snacks, you need to only eat. When the brain is distracted, it takes significantly more calories to get the same level of satiety.
Downing Too Many Liquid Calories
New research shows that we’re drinking a great proportion of our calories than ever before. In fact, one-quarter of the population drinks nearly 300 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, flavored water and gourmet coffee drinks. The problem with drinking our calories is that they’re less satisfying than when we eat foods, so we’re unlikely to eat less when we drink more calories. In addition, most beverages with calories get their calories from nothing other than sugar. This sugar is rapidly absorbed by the body and may increase risk for metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and may increase hunger and cravings.
Related Article: Think Before You Drink
–Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD