- Skipping Breakfast We all know the deal: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Still, many of us skip it thinking that it will help us shed pounds. In fact, this bad habit actually packs on the pudge. A recent study found that those who ate ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, hot cereal or even quick breads (like muffins and banana bread) had significantly lower BMIs (body mass indices) than those who skipped breakfast.
- Eating at Your Desk Everyone is time-crunched, so it makes sense these days to eat when and where we can — in the car, at our desks and in front of the TV. Unfortunately, when we tune into work or to our favorite show, we generally tune out healthy eating habits and don't pay attention to internal cues that tell us we're full. Make time for meals as often as you can. When you designate only the dining room, kitchen and restaurants as places to eat, you're less likely to be distracted and overeat.
- Cleaning Your Plate Calories add up. So, even that light pasta dish or bean burrito can add girth if you're taking in more calories than you're burning off. Beverages and snack foods are common culprits for including multiple servings in what looks to be a single-serving size container. Without thinking, you can down 180 to 240 calories in beverages that are otherwise healthy. Check the label and stick to the portion size, even if it means putting the rest in the fridge or taking home a doggie bag.
- Forgetting Fitness Many dieters think that just cutting back on calories will lead to lifelong weight loss. This works initially, but only for a while and often leads to yo-yo dieting. Studies show that most people who successfully lose weight and keep it off long-term do so by both cutting calories and adding regular exercise to their lives. Couch potatoes take heart: just 2,000 steps a day will go a long way toward keeping off unwanted pounds. Get a pedometer and get going!
- Late-night Monster This is by far one of the most common ways people sabotage their weight loss goals. They've been good all day and had a reasonable dinner. Then they plant themselves in front of the TV, where the munchie monster calls and they head for the chips or ice cream. Other folks are plagued by late-night eating due to long hours at the office. If this is your case, make sure to keep healthy snacks on hand so that you can make a smart choice about what to eat when you finally get home.
- Fat Phobia If you eschew fat of any kind and live in the land of fat-free food, you're not getting the bargain you hoped for. In addition to making food taste wonderful, fat also helps us feel satisfied. Cut it out of your diet and you'll feel the need to stock up on fat-free, but calorie-full foods, like cookies and pretzels. You're better off keeping your fat intake to about 30% of your total calories and enjoying small portions of your favorite foods once in a while.
- The Bar Scene Alcohol, no matter what form it comes in — beer, wine or spirits — packs on the calories mercilessly. Not only does alcohol contribute seven calories per gram, it also has the effect of making you eat more during a meal. You don't need to be a teetotaler; just try to stick to one drink (for women) or two drinks (for men) per day. If you're at a bar or a party, space each drink you have with a glass of water and avoid super-sugary and calorie-packed tropical and frozen drinks. Also, don't head out for a night on the town without eating something first. Otherwise, you'll fill up on nutrient-free alcohol and really hate yourself in the morning.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frances Largeman, R.D., earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at Columbia University in New York. Frances has appeared on local and national TV and has been quoted in Cooking Light magazine, as well as food and health sections of local newspapers across the country.