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Healthy Living > weight loss

5 Top Dieting Disasters

By Sheryl Kraft

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Do you wish you could increase your odds of being a successful loser? Maybe those favorite jeans are (still) snug, the scale is (forever) stuck or your weight is wildly bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo (without the fun), refusing to stay in one place for too long.

Don't give up on being able to lose the weight. You may be making some of these weight-loss mistakes.

1. Falling for the quick fix. You don't have patience to wait what feels like forever to lose those 10 pounds, so you go for the crash diet. You know the one: the diet that promises to melt the pounds away—and fast.  The cabbage soup diet, the cookie diet, the grapefruit diet.…

Of course they work, and you lose weight quickly. That's because you've drastically cut calories and cut out just about every food. But, once the diet ends, the weight piles back on. Why?

Cutting down on calories also happens to cut your metabolism, and a slow metabolism is totally inefficient at burning calories. It's also not realistic to stay on such a restricted diet, so when you reenter the normal eating world, your sluggish metabolism is working against you, and the pounds find a way back in.

2. Skipping breakfast. You think breakfast is easy to eliminate, and thus an easy way to cut calories? Well, yes—until you realize that you're really, really hungry by lunchtime, and that hunger is causing you to eat much more than you normally would for that meal. And chances are, you'll make up for that hunger with snacks as well. A high-fiber, high-protein breakfast can fill you up and keep hunger at bay throughout the day. The Mayo Clinic says that if you exercise in the morning, a light breakfast can help prevent you from feeling sluggish and lightheaded.

3. Nibble, nibble. If you like to snack, you need not feel guilty—providing you keep an eye on how much you're eating and how often you're doing it. So many of us nibble mindlessly, thinking that all those little bites are harmless. But they add up to more than you think. A handful of nuts, some bites of the office birthday cake, snacking as you cook, letting no food go to waste. Mindless munching makes for many calories. Try some peanuts for a fiber- and protein-packed, healthy snack (but watch your portions).

4. I work out, therefore I eat. If you leave the gym feeling virtuous (and you should) and reward yourself with many calories, thinking that you've earned it, it's time to realize that the vast majority of us grossly overestimate the amount of calories we burn, thinking we have more in the bank than we do. One suggestion is to eat back about 50 percent of your exercise calories—rather than all of them (or more)—and reevaluate how hungry you are in 20 to 30 minutes, suggests myfitnesspal.com.

5. Slurp.  Your body and your mind might not be registering the calories consumed in drinks in quite the same way they do from food. After all, sipping seems so innocent, and downing a drink usually happens faster than chewing, feeling and tasting food. Chances are that drinking a sweetened soda, iced tea or beer may not make you think, "Oops, I'd better cut back on eating or drinking something else during the day."

Nutrition Action reports on a study where people consumed 450 calories' worth of jellybeans every day for four weeks, then consumed the same amount of calories worth of soda for another four weeks. On the days they ate the jellybeans, the participants cut back on calories in other foods by eating roughly 450 less calories, but on the days they drank the soda, they didn't compensate and ate about 450 calories more than usual.