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Combatting Common Diet Pitfalls


Staff Writer

With companies sending consumers mixed messages with options like low-fat Oreos, it’s no surprise that trying to lose weight is not an easy feat.

Below are some of the common pitfalls of dieting in food choice, habit and how to avoid them.

When choosing foods for weight loss, avoid processed food; the less processed the better. In general, processing allows manufactures to add in large amounts of salt, sugar and fat, which keeps consumers coming back for more, but also packs on the pounds.

Here are some foods to avoid:

-White bread: Instead of choosing white bread, go for 100 percent whole grain or sprouted grain, as they are higher in protein and fiber, which will keep you fuller longer.

-Lunchmeat: While lunchmeat might seem like a healthy alternative to other, more fattening protein sources, it is high in sodium. One serving of lunchmeat can contain 1,000 mg, or a half or more of one’s daily-recommended sodium intake.

-Soda: While everyone knows soda is not exactly healthy, many also do not know the extent of its negative side effects.

About 20% of calories consumed in a day come from beverages. Drinking just one sugar soda a day can add on 15 lbs. a year. Diet sodas are not much better.

As Mara Betsch writes in Prevention magazine, “drinking both regular and diet soda has been linked to adult metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors, including high blood pressure, weight gain in the stomach area, and insulin resistance.”

With this in mind, try to only drink water when on a diet, as it will hydrate the body and decrease feelings of hunger.

Next, focus on altering eating habits rather than just food choices, to ensure lasting results. First, do not skip meals and overcompensate for the calories lost later. It is better to eat a big breakfast and less throughout the rest of the day, than to skip breakfast and eat more for lunch and dinner.

Then, try not to use the fact that a food is “healthy” as an excuse to overeat. Yes, some healthy snack alternatives are better than generic junk food in moderation, but usually not if the serving size is doubled or tripled.

Finally, it might help to have a designated “cheat day” during the week. Cheat days can help reset the metabolism and give dieters some leeway both mentally and physically.

The final step in making a diet effective is to change the way you think about food.

Consider taking into account the nutrition of what you’re eating, not just the calorie content. Try to refrain from mindless snacking, or the belief that “snacks do not count;” anything you eat is fair game for consideration.

Think about using an app such as MyFitnessPal to track specific calories and remain honest about what you are eating in a day.

Above all, avoid what Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania calls “light-bulb thinking,” which means you are either on or off the diet.

As Jane Brody says in the New York Times, “just as one cigarette need not catapult a former smoker back to a two-pack-a-day habit or one drink turn a recovering alcoholic into a drunk, one dietary mistake should not make a noticeable dent in a long-term weight-loss program.”

Remain kind to yourself and recognize that mistakes happen. Food should be a source of nutrition and joy, one that aids your body in staying healthy, not the enemy.

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