Sunday, April 10, 2011

Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Part I: When it comes to what crosses those lips

Anyone currently trying to drop a few pounds, or maybe even more than a few, can attest that sometimes it is just plain tough. Whether it is a waning of motivation to stay committed to your workout routine, feeling downright enraged at having to forgo desserts when it seems the rest of the world is diving into rocky road euphoria, or you've been doing EVERYTHING 'right' but still the scale won't budge.

Losing weight can be tricky, don't get me wrong, BUT a lot of the time people are making it harder on themselves than it should be...and plenty of time they may not even know they are engaging in a little self-sabotage. Because there is MUCH to say on this topic and I don't want to try to cram it all into one epic post, this will instead be a series. This first one will be five mistakes people make when it comes to their eating habits.

1) Discounting Liquids: How many times do you see the woman complaining to her girlfriends about not being able to lose any weight...while sipping on a ginormous whipped-topped drink from Starbucks? People, if it aint water, straight black coffee, diet soda, or something else explicitly stating 0're guzzling away your weight loss goals. For those who don't count calories, (And I'm not proposing that everyone necessarily should; instead focus on eating healthy portion sizes and everything in moderation. I only cite calories because many do and in this example I'll use them to give you a frame of reference.) take a look at the stats of your favorite beverages. You may be shocked to discover that some drinks clock in over 800 calories; that drink alone could come out more than your actual meal. The problem with liquids is that they also don't fill you up the same way as food would. For instance, if you were to drink a glass of apple juice you'd still feel just as hungry afterward and then likely turn to some food. Rather, if you had eaten an apple instead of the juice you'd be getting a more nutritious way to satisfy your belly. I'm not saying all drinks are banned, but if you are trying to lose weight you need to be conscious of what you're sipping on.

2) Portion Size Scmortion Size: It's no secret that portion sizes have been growing faster than The Blob here in America. What's happened is that now peoples' sense of what an actual portion size is has become fuzzy. This isn't only when we go out to eat, but even the plates and tableware stores are selling today are larger than in decades past. If you are watching what you eat you need to get reacquainted with what a typical serving of your favorite foods are. The good news here is that our good friends fruits and veggies make that pretty much a no-brainer. An apple is an apple is an apple. But for the rest of it, you may want to measure out what a half cup of rice looks like or 3 ounces of fish.

3) Mindless Eating: People eat when they're stressed, people eat when they're bored, people eat when something just happens to be in front of them. We're all guilty of it...but next time you're checking in for an appointment and you see a bowl of M&M's think before you fish out your favorite color. A few handfuls here and there add up. This also happens when you're eating a meal and you're distracted You may just keep on eating without listening for those hungery/full cues. It's documented that people will eat more while watching TV, out with friends, or doing anything else besides focusing on enjoying what they're eating. I'm not saying you need to hole yourself away in a dark corner whenever you eat (NOT FUN!) but every now and then check in with yourself and see how satisfied you are. Also, savor what you're eating and don't just wolf it down.

4) Believing Packages: Don't fall victim to slick marketing. Just because the front of the box screams 'Low Fat' or anything of the sort, don't take that as permission to go overboard. Again, I'm not saying we all have to be calorie counting Spartans, but if you are looking to lose weight you need to be label savvy. Companies' main goal is to sell products and they do that with their packaging. Find out what one serving constitutes, how many are in said package, and the stats for that single serving; then do the math. An interesting point about some of the low fat or sugar free fare, sometimes the total calories for the regular products are nearly the same. In some cases I've actually seen some cookies or crackers as being more; but because the package says it is lower in fat people sometimes tend to then take that as permission to eat more than they normally would.

5) BUT...Know When to Cut the Fat: This comes on the heels of the last. For things like mayo, dressing, sauces, cream, cheeses, spreads, etc. you should seek out the lower fat versions. This isn't just a weight loss issue but also because cutting out some of the saturated fats in these products is better for a healthy body. Here is a reason why people should never just assume that ordering a salad is their best bet. When you add in dressing and all those other 'extras' some of those salads have more calories and fat than if you were to order a burger and joke.

All right, that will give you plenty to chew on for the first in this series. Check back for the rest, but in closing I would like to recommend that we all throw out the word DIET. It brings to mind synonyms such as deprivation, misery, torture, and the like. That alone is enough to push you off-track of your goals; besides, diets are also usually some kind of 'plan' and many of them come with some pretty wacky stipulations. Eating healthy isn't a diet, it doesn't have a definite end date, and it also allows you to eat what you want...just in moderation. There aren't necessarily 'bad' and 'good' foods, but instead those that you should eat more of and others that are more treats and should be savored in smaller amounts. Eating healthy is also a way of life and a way to treat your body the best so that it then can be the best for you! :)

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  1. My wife and I noticed some time ago that portions in restaurants are huge, so we decided to split the dinners when we eat out. If the portion size is smaller we then supplement it with a salad.

    I recommend this to all of our friends and patients to help control weight when they eat out.


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  2. Great tip, Doc!

    Also a great way to make sure you get in those important veggies...just be sure to ask for the dressing on the side and don't flood it! ;)

    Keep it up!