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All Woman

Common diet mistakes

By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com
Monday, July 23, 2012

SO you've starved yourself most days, spent hours at the gym lifting weights, and yet after months of sticking to this routine, you are yet to see any significant results on the scale or any drastic improvement in your waistline.

Every year dieters try to make drastic changes to their lifestyles in hopes of winning the battle against the bulge. While some are able to reach their goal of fitting into a figure hugging size two or completely overhauling their medical stats, others have been left even more frustrated by their efforts.

But could it be that you are actually doing less than you think to achieve your goals, or is it that you have led yourself to buy into some of the common diet myths that have led to the death of many a weight loss dream?

If you are guilty of committing any of the offences listed below, then it is pretty clear that you have been the one stopping your own progress all along. If you start fixing the mistakes, then who knows, you might very well be able to fit into that two piece before bikini season comes to a close.

1. Mistake: Skipping meals. You probably thought having one meal per day was the best way to lose some pounds, right? After all, it's pretty obvious, if you skip breakfast and lunch, it means fewer calories to contend with for the day. Well you couldn't be more wrong about that! Skipping meals makes your sugar levels drop and decreases your metabolic rate, thereby limiting your calorie burning capacity. "Remember that your body is working constantly, so you need to have fuel for whatever is there to be burnt," nutrition consultant Tiffany Powell noted.

Solution: Try to have a healthy and balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner in small portions. Also, have two or three nutritious snacks such as an apple or a handful of almonds in between meals. This way, you'll keep your body revving at full speed throughout the day.

2. Mistake: Sneaking food in. You might think they won't do any major harm, but the candy and cookies you sneak into your diet really do add up over time. Oftentimes it's these small treats that do the most damage because they are packed with empty calories.

Solution: If you feel like grazing, try doing so on healthier treats such as nuts, raisins and yoghurt or try chewing on sugar free gum until it's time to have your meal.

3. Mistake: Drinking your calories. Oftentimes, dieters make the mistake of drinking their calories by guzzling down cups of sweetened coffee or bottles of soda throughout the day. However, sweet juices usually contribute to you feeling hungry throughout the day and are loaded with hidden calories.

Solution: Have water or coconut water if you are thirsty, to cut back on the amount of calories you consume. If you are not a big fan of either, you can squeeze some lime in your water to give it flavour. Try to avoid creamers and cut back on the sugar when having your coffee or tea.

4. Mistake: Buying into one-food wonders. There never seems to be a shortage of wonder foods that have over the years formed the basis for miracle weight loss diets. Many persons have been tricked into going on the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, the avocado diet, just to name a few, all in the hopes of shedding the pounds quickly. But there is no such thing as a wonder food and restricting yourself to one food group will rob you of nutrients and make eating boring.

Solution: Steer clear of any diet that promises fast results by restricting you to one particular food or a particular food group. Having a well-rounded diet is always the best thing if you want to shed your unwanted pounds.

5. Mistake: Adopting an unsustainable approach. When starting a diet, ask yourself whether your new lifestyle is something you can sustain for a lifetime. If the change is not a lifelong one, then you'll quickly gain weight. It's therefore best to start eliminating the unhealthy treats you once enjoyed, gradually, so that you won't feel overly deprived.

Solution: Start developing healthy habits such as incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet on a gradual basis. If you were not a breakfast person, then start making small steps to start eating in the mornings. Also start incorporating an exercise routine into your day, if you lead a primarily sedentary life.

6. Mistake: Going low carb, low fat. Fats and carbs have always been blamed for weight gain, and this has resulted in many manufacturers advertising products that are purported to be fat or carb free. But cutting out these two essential nutrients can easily sabotage your diet as easily as eating too much of them can. "You need your energy to complete your exercises. If you are exercising, and without carbs you won't have any energy," said Powell.

Solution: Choose healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes, yam and oats and always try to incorporate more unsaturated fats into your diet. Try and incorporate nuts, seeds and vegetable oils such as olive oil in your diet, which will provide you with the right types of fat for healthy living.

7. Mistake: Giving up too quickly. One of the biggest mistakes dieters make is to give up because they aren't seeing their desired results. Losing weight takes time and effort. Just ask the bombshell on your magazine cover, and she'll tell you that she works out regularly and eats healthy to get her figure.

Solution: Set realistic goals and surround yourself with people who can encourage you to achieve them. Celebrate each achievement by giving yourself a non-food reward such as a day at the spa or a new handbag. Try not to be hard on yourself if you slip, just try to do better the next day.

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