Common mistakes dieters make

Amany Abdel-Moneim , Tuesday 14 Feb 2023

Strict regimens with very specific food rules and limitations are the exact opposite of finding healthy habits that work for you. Unfortunately, ultra-restrictive challenges usually only last for a matter of days.

Common mistakes dieters make

Most of us are ready to eat more healthily, but we often go about it in the wrong way.

A healthy eating habit is a lifestyle that people often fail to practise. And when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes, there is no perfect path for everyone. It takes a bit of trial and error to truly find what works for you and your lifestyle.

Though eating healthily isn’t very complicated, there are a few mistakes people often make. Quality and quantity both need to be considered when choosing what to eat. Carbs are not your enemy, for example, and whole wheat bread isn’t always your friend.

When it comes to dieting or eating healthily, a lot of people end up making the same mistakes regardless of how many healthy snacks they eat or how often they exercise. So, if you find yourself hungry and tired or frustrated with your lack of progress, you might want to check whether you’re making these common mistakes.


Considering brown bread to be better: Both white and whole-wheat bread often have the same number of calories. Check the ingredient list and quantity used. Not all brown breads are whole wheat. Between brown and whole-wheat bread, always choose the latter and also avoid breads containing sugar and using all-purpose flour.


Indulging on your free day: Restricting your food is certain to lead to overindulging at some point. By overdoing it on your free day, you can get in all the calories that you painfully did not eat during the whole week. To avoid free-day setbacks, try to stop making plans around food on that day. Or you can change your mindset to focus on what you can eat versus what you can’t.


Thinking all calories are the same: It’s necessary to understand the value of calories and how much one should consume per day. You also need to know that it isn’t just the calories that determine how nutritious the food is. It is also important to understand the source of calories. High-calorie foods with fibre like vegetables are better options. They’re low-calorie and high-volume, and they give the sense of fullness.


Topping salads with high-calorie dressings: While piling up your salad plate is a good idea, loading salad with high-calorie dressings is not healthy. According to research, packaged dressings or blue cheese can add up to 500 calories to a salad, making it a high-fat meal. Use balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead.


Overeating after workouts: While it is important to fuel your body after a workout session, people often over-stuff. They believe that they need to consume more calories than they actually do, thanks to workout shakes, bars, and powders. It is recommended to schedule workouts around meal time to avoid immediately eating all the calories you worked so hard to burn off.


Cutting out carbs and eating protein and vegetables: This is a strategy that usually ends badly. According to health experts, carbs don’t make you gain weight. Instead, they recommend eating carbs that have more nutritional value like brown rice, beans, quinoa and sweet potatoes.


Repeating the same food: Contrary to the belief that eating the same food can lead to losing weight, it can lead to boredom and eventual binges that result in weight gain. Don’t just stick to safe foods like chicken, broccoli, or sweet potatoes. There are endless options for healthy meals.


Thinking you can exercise away calories: Be realistic about how many calories you’re taking in and burning off. You shouldn’t think of exercise as a means for eating anything you want. Thirty two kilometres of walking only burns about 100 calories, for example. However, consistent exercise can improve your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn calories more efficiently.


Not practising portion control: Quantity is key with nutrition. Like counting calories, portion control is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Being more mindful of your food can help you make better decisions and turn healthy eating into a habit not a chore.


Setting rules that you repeatedly break: Strict regimens with very specific food rules and limitations are the exact opposite of finding healthy habits that work for you. Unfortunately, ultra-restrictive challenges usually only last for a matter of days. Eating healthily often starts with a plan and then ends when we fail to execute it. Instead, try to set a reasonable routine that suits you.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 16 February, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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