5 Diet Sins To Avoid

There are a few common mistakes that people make when embarking on what they perceive to be a healthy eating plan.

Here’s how to rectify them…

Sin #1 – Starving yourself

Many people blindly believe that skipping meals or greatly reducing their energy intake will help them drop weight.

However, your body needs a certain number of kilojoules to function properly, so if you reduce your food intake to below this minimum amount your metabolism will slow down to conserve energy for your body’s basic functions.

“A slow metabolism makes it harder to lose weight and makes gaining weight easier, too,” says Lila Bruk, dietician at Lila Bruk & Associates in Johannesburg.

It’s also important to note that depriving your body of food will lead to a loss of muscle as the body metabolises muscle tissue to sustain itself. Your metabolism will thus slow down even further as you lose more muscle, thereby reducing your metabolic rate and further compromise fat loss.

Not eating enough will also inevitably lead to a dip in blood sugar and the lethargy, mood swings and cravings associated with this physiological effect.

Lastly, extreme diets don’t work because they’re impossible to maintain. You will eventually go back to eating normally and will be more likely to overeat to compensate for all the meals you missed.

“If your gaps between meals are too long you will get too hungry and find it harder to control your eating at your next meal”, asserts Lila. “Rather try to have five to six small, regular meals per day and space those meals three to four hours apart.”

Sin #2 – Forgoing Fruit

Fruit is crammed with sugar so it is often advised that you leave it out of an effective weight-loss programme.

However, fruit is an excellent source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and the right fruits can be a very healthy part of a balanced diet, says Lila. 

Whole fresh fruit also contains a lot of fluid and fibre that tends to fill you up on fewer kilojoules. “Fruit does contain a significant amount of fruit sugar called fructose,” concedes Lila.

“However, choosing fresh, low GI fruits like apples, pears, peaches and oranges, and sticking to no more than two fruits at a time, shouldn’t have an effect on your blood sugar.”

Citrus fruit, kiwis, grapes and berries are particularly high in disease-fighting antioxidants and apples and pears are rich in pectin, which subdues hunger, stimulates the metabolism and promotes intestinal health.

Sin #3 – Cutting Carbs Completely

While eradicating processed and high glycaemic carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and sweet treats from your diet can definitely help you lose weight, going to extremes by cutting out all carbohydrates can prove harmful.

Lila points out that the unhealthy side effects of these diets include constipation due to lowered fibre intake and bad breath due to ketosis.

You can also suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to the low fruit and vegetable intakes,” she adds.

The best approach is to reduce carbohydrate portions and only eat healthy complex carbohydrates like unprocessed whole grains, legumes and low GI fruit and vegetables in moderation, combined with lean proteins.

This will ensure that you receive sufficient nutrients, energy and fibre to keep your body functioning at an optimal level.

Avoiding carbohydrates close to bedtime will also give your body time to burn that energy before you sleep and makes it less likely that you’ll store excess energy as fat during this extended period of inactivity.

Sin #4 – Not Sipping Smart

Fruit drinks, fizzy cold drinks, energy drinks and alcohol are some of the biggest kilojoule traps. Alcohol is actually doubly so, because drinking diminishes our willpower, making fatty snacks or sweet treats that much harder to resist.

Opt for mineral waters, diet soda, herbal teas or coffee with a dash of fat free milk and sweetener instead.

If you have an alcoholic beverage, enjoy wine spritzers or mixers with sugar-free drinks and match each alcoholic drink with a glass of water or a diet soft drink.

It is also imperative that you drink enough water daily. Water not only controls hunger, it also stimulates the metabolism and is essential for your body’s health and balance. Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day or keep a large bottle of water with you and sip from it throughout the day.

Sin #5 – Being a Diet Perfectionist

Having an all-or-nothing attitude towards your diet and lifestyle choices can easily sabotage your efforts. All-or-nothing dieters will often pick out a complicated diet that is almost impossible for them to maintain. They then give up and often punish themselves when they veer off track.

Avoid this behaviour by following a balanced, nutritionally sound diet and brush off mistakes if they occur. The only way to achieve your goal permanently is to make a commitment to becoming a healthier person on both the good and the bad days.

By Julia Lamberti

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *