The word diet mistakes automatically includes the word failure. Why do people endlessly fail to lose weight on a diet? What sabotages diet success?
There are the usual suspects like drinking too much alcohol or juice, eating too big of a portion, skipping meals, unrealistic goals, too little sleep and not working out.
However, nutrition and digestion and therefore diets are complex. You will read this word a lot in this post. Never ever will you pin it down to just one thing that went wrong. It’s an array of obstacles.
Read on for my top 6 biggest diet mistakes women make.
#1 Being on a diet
Being on a diet means that you implement a different way of eating for a limited period of time. Once you have reached your goal you go off the diet and back to the way you ate before. And where will this approach very likely end? Yes, to another diet.
First of all you have to admit that the way you are eating does not seem to be the grail to happiness. Then you have to ask yourself:
“Am I ready for an everlasting lifestyle change? Am I ready to give up the way I am eating and learn a new approach?”
If your answer is yes, then your way of eating and nourishing the body becomes a lifestyle, a habit and not a diet.
#2 Wanting it all – now
If you agreed to the point that you need to change your lifestyle and the way you eat. Then you are ready to take some small steps. Changing things in our daily routines is nasty and messy. The cold turkey approach might work with quitting smoking but in my opinion it doesn’t lead to success in regards to nutrition.
Furthermore a more gentle approach is also nicer to your body. If you didn’t care about fiber and all of a sudden you have fiber rich foods with all your meals, then I can guarantee you the pleasures of constipation by day two. Not productive.
#3 Take calorie counting too serious
After graduating from nutrition school I know one thing for sure. The digestion process is far too complex to simply break it down into neat numbers. I mean have you ever discovered some undigested nuts or other foods in your stool? Well, I have and that means my body did not make any use of these calories and nutrients.
Proper digestion requires our body to chop up complex food compounds into simpler structures. How often we chew our food, how many digestive enzymes in our saliva, stomach and intestines are available to support this process and how efficient can our body absorb this nutrients are all questions that matter.
Digestion itself uses up energy. To unravel amino acids from protein uses up way much more calories than breaking down the starch of a potato.
Secondly, the estimates of how much energy a macronutrient contains are based on 19th century laboratory experiments. Can you think of any 19th century invention that is still used today or not rated as outdated?
And thirdly, any kind of cooking or preparation changes the food structure. Any chemist can tell you that.
So how many calories you get out of your food depends on a mind-boggling array of things. Your unique body composition, your digestive process and the food you eat are just the tip of the iceberg. So don’t beat yourself up over calories.
Take food labels as a rough estimate but try to listen to your body and mind when it comes to hunger.
Do you eat to nourish your body or do you eat so you don’t have to deal with feelings of stress, anger or worry?
#4 Don’t take hormones into account
This is kind of an extension to the previous point. Losing weight is not as simple as sum of calories consumed and calories expended. Meaning if you eat too much you gain weight, if you eat less you lose weight.
If you know someone with diabetes type 2 that injects insulin you may know, that losing weight becomes very difficult for him or her. Whenever the hormone insulin is in the bloodstream fat cells hold on to fat and store extra glucose from carbohydrates as fat.
That is why a calorie is not a calorie. A calorie from carbohydrates/sugar is more fattening than a calorie from protein or fat because of the effect of the hormone insulin. Insulin is not released in the digestion process of fats or protein.
Of course insulin is not the only hormone that plays a role in nutrition and weight gain. Again it gets very complex. Just to name a few: the stress hormone cortisol has an impact on blood sugar balance and thyroid hormone on metabolism.
If you have difficulties losing weight it might be time to talk to a nutritionist, who understands the impact of hormones.
#5 Eating low-fat
You must understand, if you are still adoring low-fat products and think of them as a smart way of dieting, then you probably also think these wireless bones with an antenna are pretty cool smartphones. We passed the low-fat area. It’s over. It’s old. It’s like being a hippie stuck in the 70’s.
On a low-fat diet not only are you replacing fats with carbohydrates/sugars (see point about carbohydrates/insulin/hormones) but you are also depriving your body of essential nutrients.
Fat is not just fat cells. Our brain is made of fat, our nerves are made of fat, our skin is made of fat and our hormones are made of fats. Our body needs fat to utilize vitamins. You just can’t leave fat out of your diet and think eating no fat equals no fat on the hips. No! It’s not that easy. A healthy weight loss program includes fat.
And you are right; there are fats that are better than others. You definitely don’t want any trans-fats or (partly) hydrogenated oils. But you can’t go wrong with the fat of avocado, nuts and seeds or fatty fish.
And again it get’s a little complicated and controversial when we start talking about saturated fats from coconut, butter and meat. But that’s another blog post. All you need to know for now, low fat is out.
#6 We think we have figured it out and don’t ask for help
But the biggest of all diet mistake women make is we think we all have it figured out. Just avoid some carbs here and there, eat more avocado and omega-3’s and do a little bit of the stuff the neighbor does.
Why do we think we can become experts overnight or be enlightened by just reading one nutrition article? Did we ever learn a second language over night? Did we become a specialist in the stock market over night? Do we send your kids to tutoring? Yes, then why? Because you don’t know math? Then why do we think we know nutrition? There is not one diet solution that fits all.
Nutrition and the science of the body are overwhelming and there are people that we can hire for help.