If you gave up burgers and fries and are now eating healthier fare instead, you would think that you should start seeing some extra pounds melt away. If that isn’t happening, you could be making some common dieting mistakes, says Kathleen Zelman, nutrition director for WebMD. Keep in mind that the only way to lose weight is to reduce your caloric intake. If you want to lose 1 to 2 lbs. a week, you need to reduce your calories by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Right Frame of Mind
Zelman says that there is often a disconnect between knowing what we should do and what we actually do. You may think you are on a diet, for example, but are consuming more calories than before. This is because when some people go on a diet, they become obsessed with food and with eating. You could be white-knuckling, so to speak, meaning that you are trying too hard not to eat certain foods. This can lead to binge eating and a “throw-in-the-towel” mentality.
One tip to losing weight is to slow down when you eat. If you can take the time to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal, European-style, you give your body time to signal when it is full. Savor each bite instead of racing through your meal.
You may be eating healthier, but if you skip breakfast, you will probably be starving by lunchtime, which means you are more likely to overeat at lunch. According to WebMD, people who eat less than three meals a day typically eat more calories each day. Don’t eat just anything for breakfast, either. Choose protein and fiber to keep you full until lunch. One good breakfast could be an egg with one piece of whole-wheat toast and half a grapefruit. This breakfast is 250 calories.
Watch Portion Size
If you are eating huge portions of healthy food, you probably won’t lose much weight. A typical restaurant serves portions that are too big. If you are eating as much at home as what a restaurant serves you, you are eating too much. A good rule of thumb is to eat no more than a clenched-fist size amount of pasta, rice, vegetables, fruit or cereal at each meal. A clenched fist is about a cup. The meat portion should not be bigger than the palm of your hand. Mayonnaise, butter and salad dressing should be the size of the top of your thumb.
Watch What You Drink
Beverages can add many calories without staving off hunger. Making the switch to lower-calorie drinks can make a difference in how much weight you lose. Switch to drinks such as water, club soda, vegetable juice, skim milk and small portions of 100 percent fruit juice, Zelman recommends. Avoid sugary sodas, smoothies, and adding sugar and cream to your coffee. Drink alcohol in moderation because alcohol is another source of calories.