The Most Common Diet Mistake (And How to Avoid Them)

From short term fasting to shunning fat. By Bridget March

Jonas Bresnan for Harper’s Bazaar UK

We all know that crash dieting is a terrible idea, but in a bid to drop that dress size we may make other mistakes that can at best hinder our weight loss and at worst harm our health. Here, registered nutritional therapist, Jackie Lynch, explains some common dieting mistakes with suggestions on how to swerve them, whether your goal is to simply shift some pounds the healthy way or maintain a steady weight.

1. Skipping meals

This might seem like a logical quick fix, but skipping meals on a regular basis confuses your metabolism and could lead to more weight gain in the long term. Our eating behaviour is controlled by hormones such as leptin, which tells your brain if you need to stop or carry on eating and grehlin which manages hunger. Short term fasting leads to a dramatic drop in leptin levels, indicating a state of famine to the brain and stimulating your appetite. Skipping breakfast may seem like a smart way to keep calories down, but a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionsuggests that people who miss breakfast eat far more later on in the day than people who regularly eat breakfast, because ghrelin levels remain unchecked.

Solution: According to research, a high protein breakfast is the key to managing ghrelin levels – opting for an egg or adding nuts and seeds to porridge or cereal could make a big difference to your appetite control.

2. Excessive portions

Misunderstanding portion size is one of the most common mistakes when trying to maintain a healthy weight. For example, a standard cereal portion is between 30-50g but most people help themselves to far more. It’s not just about a balanced diet, the correct proportion of each food group within that balance is essential. It’s perfectly possible to control weight gain, or lose weight – if that’s your goal – without eliminating whole food groups, but by simply restricting the portions.

Solution: Take some time to measure out and mentally register correct portion sizes of your favourite foods, so that you know what you’re aiming for when you’re in a rush or eating out. Try investing in a meal preparation and portion control appliance such as newly launched, MealKitt, which assists with weight management.

Antonio Terron/Folio-ID.com

3. Hidden sugar

It isn’t difficult to spot and avoid refined sugar, but it’s a common misconception to assume that ‘healthy’ sugar is fine. The single biggest culprit when it comes to weight gain is excess sugar in any form, as it generates the release of insulin which encourages the body to lay down fat stores. Products such as honey, dried fruits and fruit juice are full of hidden traps, as they contain vast amounts of sugars in each portion.

Solution: When it comes to fruit sugars, eat the whole fruit but avoid the juiced versions. Fruit is naturally high in fructose, which is fruit sugar, but it also contains plenty of fibre which helps to balance out the sugar.

4. Not eating enough fat

The idea that ‘eating fat makes you fat’ is the most common misconception out there and many people still automatically fill their trolley with low-fat products assuming this will help them to lose weight. Dietary fat doesn’t make you fat – it does a number of other things, such as balancing hormones, supporting brain and cardiac function, ensuring the absorption of certain vitamins and producing sex hormones. It’s also responsible for much of the flavour in our food, which is why manufacturers often add sugar (or salt) to low-fat products, as the flavour has been stripped out along with the fat. This is a real problem, as excess sugar is the single biggest factor when it comes to weight gain.

Solution: Take a close look at the labels of any low-fat products to make sure you’re not introducing excessive sugar into your diet. A teaspoon of sugar is roughly 4g, so it’s simple enough to do the maths.

Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and nutritional ambassador for Mealkitt.

From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK

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