You know that crash dieting isn't a smart idea, but if you're trying to lose weight, there are other habits that could be causing you to not see results. Make sure you're seeing results by not making these diet mistakes.
- Skipping meals: In an effort to keep calorie counts to a minimum, you may think that skipping a meal or two is the best way. But missing meals can slow down your metabolism and cause you to overdo it once you do sit down to eat, so try to stick to a normal mealtime and eat before you are completely famished.
- Never feeling hungry: Well-timed meals are a mainstay of a healthy diet, but it's OK to feel those hunger pangs, as long as they aren't intense (see above). In fact, feeling mildly to moderately hungry is an indication that your metabolism is working properly, says registered dietitian Cynthia Sass. Her tip: if you aren't hungry about four to five hours after a healthy meal, try cutting back on portions.
- Deny, deny, deny: Cheat days have their place, but not everyone has the willpower to completely cut out a food for good. In fact, denying yourself something you crave, like desserts or carbs, can make you more likely to binge on them. If that's the case, try cutting cravings by sharing a dessert, going for whole grains and complex carbs instead of overprocessed foods, and front-loading your day with your carb-rich meals to give you energy for the day.
- Loading up on the good stuff: Even if you're eating healthy, it's possible to go overboard. High-calorie foods like nuts and avocado may contain lots of much-needed nutrients like healthy fats and fiber, but that doesn't mean you should be eating an avocado at every meal. Strike the right balance between calories and nutrients by watching portions. Here are some ways to do it:
- Not counting drinks: Those juices, sodas, and wine glasses add up to hundreds of calories a day that you could be ignoring. Make sure you factor what you're drinking into your diet, and skip the ones that are full of empty calories (or dangerous no calories, like diet soda) or drink them sparingly.
- Only counting calories: Speaking of calories, while it's important to keep them in check if you're trying to lose weight, only focusing on that magic number is setting yourself up for failure. "Many [diet] programs focus on what I call the 'surface' evaluations of foods — how many calories, grams of carbs, protein, etc. a food has," says celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. Instead of counting all your calories, take a look instead at the composition of the foods you eat: they should be fresh, whole foods and unprocessed. The bonus? You'll be able to eat much more if you go for lots of produce and lean meats instead of greasy and fried foods or processed meals.