I currently work as a dietitian at an outpatient cardiology office. When I meet with clients to help them meet their nutrition goals (weight loss, decreasing blood pressure, learning to eat balanced meals...etc), we identify a lot of barriers that may have prevented them from meeting their nutrition goals in the past. The ones listed below are some of the most common eating habits that I hear about, and they truly do diminish people's ability to succeed!
Think about your own eating habits. Have you done any of these within the past week or month?
According to a survey by the Morning MealScape 2011 Survey, about 10% of the United States' population skips breakfast each morning. This is a major problem because eating breakfast helps regulate your appetite throughout the entire day. When we skip breakfast, we are usually more hungry later in the day to try to overcompensate for a skipped meal. This overcompensation will lead to increased calorie intake and will make it difficult to try to lose or maintain your weight. Check out this previous post for quick and simple Breakfast Ideas. If you are not a breakfast person, try to at least have a snack within 2-3 hours of waking up. This snack should ideally have a carbohydrate source such as a fruit, piece of toast, or cup of oatmeal, and a protein source such as yogurt, low fat milk, an egg, nuts, or seeds.
A major problem in our country is portion control and the want to get "more bang for your buck." The problem with this mindset is that our portion distortion may appear financially valuable at the present, but this could lead to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases which we will certainly pay for later. We need to shift our focus on getting the best financial value and adopting a culture that desires getting the best health value.
To find out what a serving is considered, look at the food label on the back of a product. Before reaching into a bag of chips, cookies, pretzels, pay attention to how many snacks are in one serving size. Pour out one serving and place the rest of the bag away so that you are not tempted to go back for more.
If a product does not have a food label on it, you can use several ways to estimate the appropriate serving size for that food. Check out this post on Portion Control to learn more.
When speaking with a lot of my clients, a lot of them are very frustrated when their weight plateaus or their lab values do not change when they are eating the correct portion sizes of healthy meals and snacks, and exercising daily. However, once we dig a bit deeper in conversation, I soon realize that their high-energy beverage choices are likely keeping them at this plateau. Sodas are probably the most obvious to come to mind, averaging about 150-200 kcals per bottle. However, some other drinks may be a bit more conspicuous...
Juices, Gatorades, Coffee beverages, Iced Teas, Lemonades, Alcoholic Beverages (Wine, Beer, Liquor, Hard Ciders)...etc can all significantly add on calories if you aren't careful. Remember to look at serving sizes for drinks as well, because oftentimes one serving is is only 1/2 or 1/4 of the bottle itself.
I am a huge fan of mobile food logs to become more aware of the calories being taken in and how much time it takes to burn them off with exercise. The only major problem with most food logs is that the mobile log will tell people that they have earned extra calories to eat because they worked out. Eating these extra calories completely negates the calorie deficit they made by exercising and will cause them to continue to maintain their weight, not lose it. To prevent this from happening, I'd recommend only logging exercise before bed so that if the mobile app suggests eating your exercise calories, you can ignore it more easily than you would if you were half way through your day and hungry. For recommendations about fitness apps, check out my post on my Favorite Fitness Apps that I currently use!
Let's face it. We all feel this way sometimes. Was it the tempting cake at your cousin's baby shower, or was it the second or third piece of pie at Thanksgiving? Sometimes we all feel guilty about overeating or eating unhealthily at times. Making a mistake or two is not the problem. The problem occurs when we stay feeling guilty for long periods and then torture ourselves between strict yet short-lived deprivation of our favorite treats or completely throwing in the towel and giving up on our healthy eating goals entirely. My best advice is to stay positive. There is always another opportunity to eat healthily because we have to eat everyday! So if today wasn't your best, you have a fantastic opportunity to make a change tomorrow, so cheer up and stay positive! :)
Pick yourself up and make 2016 the year that you finally kick these habits to the ground!