The 10 biggest weight loss mistakes

These are in no particular order.

After practicing as a dietitian for 10 years, these are some of the commonest things my clients have done when trying to lose weight. 

My aim is to shift their thinking away from doing any of these, and when they do this, they tell me how liberating it is.

1. Cut out the food you love.

Part of healthy eating is having a healthy relationship with food. When you finally realize you are free to eat whatever you feel like, you’ll find yourself eating mostly nourishing food and occasionally enjoying a treat.

2. Just eating salad and tuna in spring water for lunch.

This will not fill you up and, quite frankly, doesn’t taste that good! Use tuna in olive oil, add some baked veggies (e.g., potato) and add a little of your favorite cheese. The meal will be much more satisfying, and you won’t feel you are on a diet. You’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of “Oh well, I’ve been good all day, it’s ok to have…”.

3. Labelling food as either good or bad.

Food does not have a moral value. Just as a chair is neither good nor bad, chocolate is neither good nor bad, and it’s just chocolate! Eating a portion of food you label as bad tends to make you feel bad or guilty about eating it. When confronted with a portion of “bad” food, it is easy to fall into the trap of eating the whole lot right then and there with the notion you’ll never eat it again!

4. Skipping a meal so you can get away with more when eating out or at a function.

Do this, and you’ll end up over-hungry and eating twice as much at the next meal. Chances are your normal lunch + dinner out will equal fewer calories than over-eating in the evening.

5. Exercising to burn fat.

If you exercise to burn calories, you may be disappointed when the scales don’t show a drop. You have to do a hell of a lot of exercises to burn through 1kg of body fat. Exercise because it makes you feel good mentally and physically. Do this, and you’ll reap the rewards straight away.

6. Not listening to your appetite.

Learning to trust your appetite again is key to managing your eating long-term. You will get better long-term results when you start to trust your body to tell you when and how much to eat, rather than relying on a rigid meal plan or counting calories.

7. Eating a meal or snack because it’s low calorie, rather than eating because you are hungry.

If you eat when you’re not hungry, it’s harder to know when you’ve eaten enough. If you want to learn to trust your appetite again, you need to allow yourself to feel hungry.

8. Choosing a meal or snack because it’s low calorie or low fat, rather than choosing it because it’s what you feel like eating.

Chances are you’ll be less satisfied and looking for something else to eat soon after. I usually find people’s need for something sweet after a meal settles when they eat a more satisfying meal.

9. Choosing diet food over whole foods.

Eat diet food, and you’ll feel like you’re on a diet. Being on a diet leads to breaking the diet at some point. Plus, there is simply no need to eat diet food. Full-fat yogurt & cheese, tuna in oil, bread, nuts & olive oil can all be part of a healthy diet that helps you turn your health around.

10. Making weight loss the main measure of success rather than how you feel mentally and physically.

Image this. You’re enjoying plenty of nourishing delicious food, you’ve mastered eating less through listening to your appetite, you can enjoy your favorite food without feeling guilty, and you’re managing a decent walk most days. Over the past few months, you’ve dropped a dress size. Mentally and physically, you feel awesome! And then you step on the scales and shock horror, you’ve gone up 0.5kg. Despite feeling awesome a moment ago, you now feel awful. How could this happen?? You remember that block of chocolate you hid away and figuring what the hell, eat the whole lot.

There are many reasons your weight goes up unexpectedly, such as normal fluctuations, or you may have drank a couple of extra cups of tea that day. That aside, this highlights how damaging just focusing on weight can be. While monitoring your body weight can be useful, don’t make it the be-all and end-all.

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