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The 5 Biggest DIET BLUNDERS

June 21, 2013 5 min read

Many people who have committed to a healthier lifestyle still find it hard to reach their goals. They’ve cleaned up their diet and they exercise regularly, but after some initial success, they reach a stalemate on the scale. So what’s the deal? Like many things in life, success is in the details. It’s not just about burning more calories than you eat, though this is certainly important, it’s also about the kinds of calories you eat, and how and when you eat them. Here are some diet tips that will help you break your plateau and move on up to the next level of health and fitness.

Don’t Be a Weekend Warrior

Just because you maintain a healthy lifestyle all week doesn’t mean you can indulge in heroic binges on the weekend. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy a lavish Sunday brunch - by all means, do! - but end it there. Don’t think that you’ve messed up and should continue the downward spiral by stuffing your face with every pastry in sight. One meal will not undo all your hard work. In fact, one weekend of indulgent eating won’t undo all your hard work, but blowing your healthy diet out of the water weekend after weekend WILL add up. In fact, these weekend binges can add up to 10 pounds over time. Dr. John Briffa, author of ‘Escape the Diet Trap’, warns against the Weekend Warrior mindset. He cautions that it can lead to extremist thinking. Weekend Warriors, “equate their working week with dieting and deprivation, which locks them in the mindset of “good” or “bad” eating. If you feel compelled to overeat every weekend, it suggests the way you’re eating most of the time isn’t satisfying you. You’re waiting for the weekend when you can enjoy your diet. But the healthy eating should be making you feel better, not be your penance.”   Quick fix: Don’t deprive yourself during the week. Eat a small piece of chocolate, treat yourself to a light beer or a glass of wine. Better yet: Find satisfying and healthy alternatives to your high fat, high calorie favourites. Have a hankering for something salty? Try Popchips - one of Jillian Michael’s (and our) favourite low calorie treats. Something sweet? Try a square of 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate and a dried fig.

Ditch the Diet Drinks

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again. Study after study shows drinks sweetened with artificial sweetener of ANY kind will actually cause you to gain or retain weight. When your body gets a sweet taste without actual sugar, it makes you eat more. It heightens your cravings. One study revealed that people who drank a lot of diet drinks increased their chances of developing type-2 diabetes by 67 per cent. Yet another study revealed that people who drank diet alternatives on a regular basis noticed their waist lines grew 70% more than people who didn't partake. Quick fix: Try adding some lemon and/or lime to your sparkling water. Perrier has a great grapefruit flavoured alternative!

Don’t Skip Breakfast

We all know it’s the most important meal of the day, but some people still insist on skipping out of noshing first thing in the morning. The fact remains that people who eat breakfast are thinner than people who don’t. The reason is simple: People who eat breakfast don’t spend the rest of the day playing catch up with their calories. One study revealed that people who skipped breakfast had a markedly heightened response to images of food like pizza, chocolate and cake. The result is that they were far less able to control their cravings. People who eat breakfast on the other hand, tend to make better food choices throughout the day. They aren’t starving by lunch and ready to grab anything in sight - they are able to make rational and healthy decisions. Breakfast eaters are also far less likely to eat at night, since their body has already got the calories it needs. Quick fix: Get an easy hit of protein within an hour of waking up. Try 2 hardboiled eggs, some greek yogurt and berries or smoked salmon. Dr. Bariffa suggests that you try eating a handful of walnuts or almonds within the first hour of waking up if you don’t feel like eating anything substantial.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Just because something is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want. Natural peanut butter and hummus are both healthy foods, but only if you stick to the serving size (a tablespoon.) Avocados are also healthy, but this doesn’t mean you should eat vat of your homemade guacamole. Paying attention to serving sizes is imperative. Remember, healthy fats are friends, not foe! Don’t be afraid of them but don’t overindulge. Also be on the lookout for the many names of sugar. If you see something has corn syrup, maltose, sucrose, dextrose, fructose - basically anything ending in ‘ose’ - it is sugar, and should be treated as such. Quick fix: Dr. Bariffa is full of good ideas. He says, “Raw almonds and brazil nuts are pretty hard to binge on, so they’re a better choice than, say, a bag of wasabi nuts. Likewise, if you find you can’t have only one teaspoon of hummus with your raw veggies as a snack, choose something else.”

Stop Crash Dieting

Anyone can lose weight on a strict diet - short term. Long term, however, these stringent goals are difficult to sustain. The weight inevitably comes back with a vengeance. When these crash dieters decide to lose weight again, they end up gaining even more back. This is the yo-yo diet most of us are familiar with hearing about. When your body is not getting enough food, it switches into starvation mode and stores any food you do consume. It is a biological and hormonal reaction. The University of Melbourne conducted a study which followed the crash dieting habits of 50 overweight men and women. The research revealed that the hormone levels of the participants began to work overtime when their bodies thought they were starving. The hormone responsible for this reaction is called ghrelin - the hormone that stimulates appetite. The participants levels of ghrelin was 20% higher at the end of their diets, while the levels of the hormone that suppresses hunger and signals satiety (leptin) was lower. Quick fix: Make a lifestyle change - slowly. You don’t have to change your life all at once, just begin with small, incremental changes. Try starting here: Increase your protein. A lot of fad diets focus on reducing carbohydrates, and while it is important to reduce consumption of refined carbs, it is better to focus on the positive. So, think about what can you eat MORE of instead of what you should eat less. Also keep in mind carbs are not the devil incarnate. You need carbohydrates to function. In fact, you need a minimum of 50 grams a day just to maintain proper brain function. The key is to get your carbs from WHOLE foods.

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