Take it from me, I'm a Nutritionist.
After over a decade of working closely with people who are pursuing weight loss, I've picked up on some patterns. It's actually amazing how alike we all are. There are shared, common struggles we have and mistakes that we make. Today, I'm here to share some of my observations with you so that maybe you can benefit and change your approach in the future.
1. Failing to accept long-term realities
My most successful clients realize that there is no end to most of the recommendations I give. At the end of their program, their nutrition won't change much and they don't just go back to eating whatever they want, whenever they want. I believe where people make the biggest mistake is in the way they view what they're doing. Are you looking at your next meal plan as a temporary diet or are you embarking on a journey that involves making long-term change? Breaking down bad habits and building new habits often takes a certain amount of discipline, repetition, and time. This is what's required for a lifetime and truthfully there is no end to it.
2. Choosing low fat foods
It's 2022 guys, going low-fat is not the answer. Healthy fats contain essential nutrients... meaning we-cant-live-without-them, nutrients! The key is to choose good sources of fat. Then, of course watch portion sizes, not because fat is bad but because fat is dense. At 9 calories per gram, fat gives almost double the amount of calories per gram than protein or carbs (which are 4 calories/gram). Fat calories add up quickly, thats why a peanut butter jar or bag of cashews can sometimes be dangerous. Low fat products are not needed or beneficial.
3. Not eating enough vegetables
It's important to not only think about foods to avoid but also what foods to eat in abundance. Vegetables are powerful plant foods that have all of the vitamins and minerals our bodies crave. They are nutritious, low in calories (so you can eat a bunch) and they also have a ton of fiber, which can help tame your hunger and keep you full. Here's a tip for success, try eating vegetables at all meals of the day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
4. Underestimating the impact of seemingly harmless habits
We typically overestimate what we do that positively impacts us (how often are you really getting outside for a walk?) and underestimate what we do that negatively impacts us. In other words, we want to believe that the little, unhealthy things don't matter as much. But they do. The little things add up and have a bigger impact on us than we want to accept. A little bit here, a little bit there. No big deal, right?
I hear this all too often. "It's just a couple small pieces of chocolate after dinner at night." Or some version of that. If there is any speculation or wonder about something that you are doing that could be preventing you from losing weight, I'd try cutting it out cold turkey for two weeks and see what happens.
5. Eating small frequent meals throughout the day
Contrary to what you've probably read in other articles or heard from Susie at the gym, I'd encourage you to refrain from eating every 2 hours to "keep your metabolism going". The reason being is that it's just not necessary for weight loss and research shows your body is a better functioning machine when you are not pumping it with food all day long.
Eat bigger meals, less often. Eat and stop eating. Don't eat between meals, and avoid being a "snacker". Without getting too science-y, your hormones, your metabolism, and your appetite will all be better because of it.
6. Not eating enough the first half of the day (breakfast and lunch)
What you do the first half of the day will set you up for success the second half of the day. When you go all day without eating, making the right choices pre, during and post dinner gets very tricky. I find that night time eaters are most likely to skip breakfast, lunch, or both. The best thing you can do is make sure you eat enough during the day so that you don't come home ravenous and fall to erratic eating behavior. Going too long without food can affect not only your physical but mental well being too.
7. Uncontrolled cheat days
Calories from processed foods have the potential to add up very quickly. If you are eating healthy portion controlled meals during the week and allowing yourself some wiggle room on the weekend, I'd give some thought to just how much wiggle you are allowing.
My clients implement a healthy eating regimen during the week, in a moderate deficit of calories (so that they are not starving themselves) and lose around 1.5-2 pounds each week. With that said, If on the weekend they take in an additional 2,000 or more calories each day through processed junk, this will easily prevent a total loss for the week. If the scale isn't budging the way you'd like, consider turning your cheat day into a cheat meal (I sometimes like to call it a treat meal or flexible meal). Portions matter and over-indulgence can prevent weight loss under any circumstance.