Here are three common diet traps that may be stopping you from reaching your weight loss goals.
Diet trap #1: Being deceived by healthy-looking takeout food. Your homemade mashed potatoes will never taste as good as they do at a restaurant because you probably wouldn’t make them with equal parts butter and potato. Restaurants typically chose flavour over health. After all, they are in the business of selling food that keeps you coming back for more. Similarly, that healthy-looking cranberry goat cheese quinoa salad at your favourite lunch spot may pack a lot more Calories and sugar than you think. Many restaurants fill their takeout boxes with rice or other grain portions that are six to eight times larger than the serving size recommended by the Canada Food Guide. A "serving" of grains should be about half a cup, cooked. Bulk up your lunch with leafy greens instead. Think green salads are always a safe bet? Think again. We’ve analyzed the nutrition content of several popular salads at leading Canadian restaurant chains and found some salads with more sugar than three slices of your average banana cream pie! When ordering takeout, or when dining at a restaurant, green salads and grain salads (made with whole grains) are often a wise choice. However, just because something looks healthy doesn't mean it's low in Calories or carbs. When it comes to takeout orders, be mindful of grain portion sizes, and of salads that are loaded with dried fruit, candied nuts, glazed or battered proteins, and sweet dressings.
Skip the salad bar and pack our own lunch instead. Packing your own lunch puts you in control and allows you to get more of the things you need (protein, whole grains, fibre, vitamins, and minerals) and less of the things you don’t need (excess Calories, unhealthy fats, refined starch, excess sodium, and refined sugars). When packing your own lunch include a lean protein (e.g. chicken, salmon, tuna, eggs, tofu, edamame), healthy carbohydrates (e.g. 100-per-cent whole-grain bread, quinoa, brown rice, beans, lentils, whole fruit), lots of vegetables, and healthy fats.
Diet trap #2: Treating fruits and vegetables like equals. Up to 80% of Canadians aren’t getting enough of the health-promoting, disease-fighting phytonutrients found in colorful fruits and vegetables. You should be eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from each colour group (eg. green, red, white, yellow, purple) every day, for a total of about 7-10 servings daily servings. One serving is about ½ cup of chopped raw fruit or vegetables, or one whole small fruit such as an apricot or a peach. However, just because whole fruit is good for you doesn’t mean you can get away with eating whole bag of apples throughout the day. Fruits are higher in naturally-occurring sugars, and as such, when you are trying to manage your weight, it’s important to focus on eating more vegetables than fruit. Of your daily recommended fruit and vegetable servings, the split should be about 70:30, vegetables to fruit. Eating a bowl of fruit salad isn't the same as eating a bowl of kale. If you love snacking between meals, fill up on lower Calorie vegetables like celery, lettuce, collard greens, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas. Also, before adding anything else to your plate at lunch and dinner, fill half of it with veggies.
Diet trap #3: Fasting. You may have fasted in the past and had short term success, but for most people, extreme dieting doesn’t work as a healthy, sustainable weight management solution. In fact, fasting is often counterproductive. You might lose some weight at first and gain more after. This is because starvation diets tap into evolutionary biological mechanisms that used to kick in when food was scarce. "During famine, our bodies respond to lower calorie intakes by slowing down the metabolism to not burn as much energy” says Dr. Farrell Cahill, Director of Research at Medisys Health Group. “Our bodies are regulated by a delicate balance of hormones and that balance gets disturbed when you starve yourself," he continues.
If you are trying to lose excess weight, physical activity and healthy eating habits are critical, but other lifestyle factors play a key role as well. About 1 in 3 Canadians are chronically sleep deprived and up to half of Canadians aren't drinking enough water, both can have a significant impact on weight.
Insufficient hydration: How much water you drink matters, a lot. Sufficient hydration helps regulate hunger because your metabolism is directly linked to water consumption. Carbohydrates are broken into their component molecules by water through a process called hydrolysis. As such, insufficient water intake can result in slowed metabolism, leading to weight gain. In fact, one study found that drinking more water helped boost healthy men and women’s metabolic rate by 30% (to read more, click here).
Poor sleep habits: When it comes to weight management, sleep is an important hemostatic modulator and the reduction of sleep has been shown to significantly decrease both glucose and fat metabolism while also inappropriately increasing appetite, leading to weight gain. “Sleep plays an important role in regulating the hormones that influence hunger (ghrelin, cortisol, and leptin),” explains Medisys Registered Dietitian Richelle Tabelon, “that’s why sleep deprivation increases appetite and lads to overeating and weight gain” Tabelon continues. To read more click here.
Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet will always be important components of weight maintenance – but if you are exercising and eating all the right things and your diet still isn’t working, it may be time to look at other lifestyle habits that could be playing a role.