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Diet Guide: Mistakes, How to Fix Them, and Dining Out

Whether you’re starting a new diet to get healthier in general or reach your weight loss goals, there are common misconceptions that could hinder your progress. Here are some of the most common dieting mistakes you might be making without even knowing it.

In This Healthy Insight:

  • Common Diet Mistakes
    • Skipping breakfast
    • Forgetting about liquid calories
    • Not exercising
    • Using extreme diets and cutting out important foods
    • Mindless munching
    • Not stashing healthy snacks in your home or office
    • Going overboard on low fat
    • Not drinking enough water
    • Waiting too long to eat
    • Cutting out your favorite foods
    • Relying too much or not utilizing natural ingredients to supplement your diet
  • Small Changes to Make a Big Difference
    • Ditch Processed Foods
    • Switch to Healthy Cooking Methods
    • Go Local and Organic for Produce
    • Eat Regularly and Mindfully
    • Don’t Skip Breakfast
    • Stop Buying Reduced-Calorie, Fat-Free Foods or Diet Soda
  • Dining Out on a Diet
    • Read the menu before you go
    • Eat something small and healthy before you go
    • Choose water, before and during
    • What to order?
    • Pay attention to how food is cooked
    • Opt. for “on the side”
    • Substitute when you can
    • Practice mindful eating
    • Other small tips
woman trying to figure out her diet

Common Diet Mistakes

  • Skipping breakfast
    • There’s a mistaken belief that if you skip breakfast, you’re saving calories. Eating a healthy, protein-filled breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Forgetting about liquid calories
    • Did you know a regular soda can pack on 15 pounds in one year? Even juices include “hidden” sugars we tend to overlook since they have a healthy stigma. Also, let’s not forget to factor in your morning coffee, smoothies and alcohol. If you’re craving something a little more flavorful, try water with fruit slices in it.
  • Not exercising
    • Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. Eating right won’t help you burn fat or build muscle and exercising won’t combat a bad diet. If 30 minutes is too much, start with 10 and see how it goes or try something enjoyable like bowling, playing ping-pong or dancing.
  • Using extreme diets and cutting out important foods
    • Nowadays, it seems like there’s a new fad diet every week. These trends don’t help you keep off unwanted weight in the long run and are hard to maintain. For example, cutting out carbs and fats might seem like a good idea, but your body needs them for energy. The best diet is a lifestyle choice that includes variety, portion control and replacing “bad” carbs/fats for “good” ones.
  • Mindless munching
    • Having a snack is one thing but anything over 200 calories is another. Also, focusing on how much your intake adds up to instead of “subtracting” can help keep your diet in check.
  • Not stashing healthy snacks in your home or office
    • Keep a supply of nuts, fresh or dried fruit, protein bars, yogurt, cheese, graham crackers or granola handy for when hunger strikes.
  • Going overboard on low fat
    • It’s psychological. You pick a low-fat snack and justify eating more of it because it’s low fat. Research backs this up.
  • Not drinking enough water
    • Staying hydrated is essential for everything your body has and does. Drinking the recommended eight 8 ounces of water per day benefits digestion, nutrient absorption, mood, skin health, energy and metabolism.
  • Waiting too long to eat
    • Intermittent fasting helps your body burn some stored fat for energy but there is fine line between this and starving yourself. Waiting too long to eat can put you in “famine” mode which, most of the time, causes you to overeat or choose unhealthy foods for convenience.
  • Cutting out your favorite foods
    • While you can’t eat buttery popcorn, cookies, pizza and ice cream every night it’s important to eat your favorite foods occasionally. People that completely cut out their food “vice” tend to give up on their diet completely. The key is to take note of how much you eat and balancing with healthier foods and exercise.
  • Relying too much or not utilizing natural ingredients to supplement your diet
    • Relying completely on supplements to do all the work for you isn’t going to do the trick. You need to combine it with a healthy diet and exercise. That said, taking a multivitamin, probiotic or digestive enzymes can help you reach your overall health and wellness goals. And if you’re specifically looking to slim down, supplements such as apple cider vinegar, aloe vera and other weight loss aids might boost your efforts. Talk to your healthcare professional about what products are right for you!

So you want to eat healthier maybe shed a few pounds, but the idea of munching on kale or sipping green smoothies stops you dead in your tracks. You may have even tried a fad diet but returned to your old eating habits by week’s end. Well, it’s time to try a new tack. One or two small changes can make a big difference in your life. These will get you started. 

a small child sitting on a table

Small Changes to Make a Big Difference

So you want to eat healthier maybe shed a few pounds, but the idea of munching on kale or sipping green smoothies stops you dead in your tracks. You may have even tried a fad diet but returned to your old eating habits by week’s end. Well, it’s time to try a new tack. One or two small changes can make a big difference in your life. These will get you started.

Ditch Processed Foods

There’s nothing that gets taste buds tingling than the aroma of donuts, burgers, fries and pizza. Yum! But think twice before pulling into the drive-thru because these foods are loaded with fat, cholesterol, sodium, artificial coloring, preservatives and taste enhancing chemicals that increase your risk for obesity, cardiovascular problems and a weakened immune system. While you could probably get by with the occasional indulgence, eating several meals a week like this will ravage your health in no time.

Instead, learn to cook two or three go-to recipes that are fast, simple and healthy. Roasted chicken breasts, baked salmon in foil, turkey burgers, eggs, vegetable hummus wrap – the possibilities are endless.  

Switch To Healthy Cooking Methods

Many of us fry our food which makes it tasty but also removes essential nutrients. In fact, the tastier you make your food, the less healthy it often becomes. Try these tricks to keep nutrients and flavor intact.

  • Grill or bake meat, fish, chicken, vegetables
  • If you must fry, use olive oil
  • Steam or stir fry vegetables
  • Get creative with seasonings
  • Experiment with poaching, broiling, and pressure-cooking techniques

Go Local and Organic for Produce

Hit your neighborhood farmer’s markets for fresh, in-season, chemical-free fruits and vegetables. Their produce is often much cheaper than grocery stores with a huge range of items. Stock up and freeze what you can. 

Eat Regularly and Mindfully

It’s normal to get hungry every three or four hours. Going longer depletes your energy and causes your metabolism to plummet.  Putting yourself on a regular eating schedule allows you to plan ahead with healthy foods and snacks.

We have lots of excuses for skipping meals: we’re not hungry or we’re too busy. If we do manage to snarf something down, it’s on the run. Sitting down and eating slowly and mindfully helps your body process the food and gives your digestive system time to signal the brain to tell you you’re full.  

While you’re at it, dine with the lights on. It appears people who eat in well-lit spaces eat fewer calories and make better food choices. Bright spaces make us more alert and mindful of what we’re consuming.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Time and time again, research confirms that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet 25% of us skip it. Breakfast energizes you and sets your metabolism for the rest of the day. Skipping it throws your body into starvation mode and by lunchtime you’re excessively hungry and prone to overeating. Research further shows dieters are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off when they eat breakfast. Lack of time is no excuse. It only takes 5 minutes for oatmeal, an egg sandwich or yogurt and fruit.

Stop Buying Reduced-Calorie, Fat-Free Foods or Diet Soda 

You’ll find reduced-calorie cheese, bread, peanut butter, pancake syrup and more but, these often eliminate the nutrients that are actually healthy for you. The result? You end up feeling less satisfied and craving even more. Skip the diet soda too. It has no nutritional benefits nor does it help you lose weight. What it does is mess up your body’s insulin, expose you to potentially cancerous chemicals and increase levels of sodium leading to bloat. If you’re really craving a soda, enjoy a regular one or better yet replace it with a fresh juice.

Start by making one or two small changes listed above. It can make a huge difference in how you look and feel. If you’re looking for additional ways to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients your body needs, try adding a multivitamin and check out these supplements to compliment your healthy lifestyle efforts. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a slimmer, trimmer, healthier you.  

couple dinner diet

Dining Out on a Diet

On average, more than 56% of Americans eat out 3 times a week, including take out. Not only is this rough on your wallet, but it also makes it hard to eat healthy and stick to your diet. Here are some tips to help.

Read the menu before you go

With all the creative restaurant names out there, it’s hard to tell what’s actually on the menu. Almost every restaurant will have a website where you can view the menu ahead of time, so give it a google search to find some healthy options.

Eat something small and healthy before you go

Don’t stuff yourself before you go out to eat, but showing up at a restaurant extremely hungry makes it likely you’ll make impulsive decisions and overeat.

Choose water, before and during

Drinking water before meals makes you feel fuller, a natural detox, suppressing your appetite and decreasing overall calorie intake. Since your body uses energy to make water body temperature, drinking cold water helps boost your metabolism. Remember, it’s recommended you drink 8 eight-ounce glasses a day and water has no calories, carbs, fats, sodium or sugars.

What to order?

Broth-based and tomato-based soups help you avoid heavy cream and other additives. Lean meats such as sirloin, filet, fish and chicken let you enjoy your favorite meats with less saturated fat and calories.

Pay attention to how food is cooked

Avoid ordering food that includes words such as: au gratin, crispy, tempura, braised, pickled, au jus, fried, sautéed, pan fried, creamed, buttered and pan roasted. This will ensure your food isn’t covered in grease, unhealthy fats and sodium. Go for steamed, boiled, grilled (most of the time), baked and roasted.

Opt. for “on the side”

Sauces, gravy and salad dressings can be misleading – ask for it on the side so you can monitor how much goes onto each bite, avoiding unnecessary calories and sodium.

Substitute when you can

A lot of meals and beverages are made to order, but this doesn’t mean you can’t substitute something healthier for your side. Choose vegetables, fruits or a salad instead of fries and ask for low-fat milk in your coffee instead of creamer.

Practice mindful eating

First, skip the bread, especially if it’s white. Bread is filled with unnecessary carbs, calories and additives.

Second, eat slowly and enjoy your meal. Eating slower helps you fully digest and savor each bite. Sometimes eating smaller portions such as two appetizers instead of one large entrée stops you from feeling like you must finish the large portions. An added bonus –  you get to sample more than one type of food!

Other small tips:

  • Avoid buffets
  • Say no to dessert
  • Sharing is caring

If you’re following a diet and are concerned about getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need with such restricted food options, try supplementing! It can be a convenient, effective way to obtain the nutrition your body needs without added calories, carbs, sugar, sodium and unhealthy fat!

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