6 Eating Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Diet

Been sticking to that healthy eating plan but still not seeing a difference on the scales? These six common diet mistakes could be the culprit...

Strawberry Salad

You’ve been doing all the right things; counting your cals religiously, avoiding chocolate like it’s the devil and bringing your paleo-friendly lunch into the office every day without fail, but still you see no difference on the scales. #Ugh.

If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, and avoiding all the delicious goodies in the snack aisle (Dairy Milk, we’re looking at you), can be seriously hard.

But it doesn’t have to be such a struggle. We spoke to nutritional coach Lyda Borgsteign about the common mistakes people make when they’re trying to stick to a diet. Here’s what she told us.

Mistake 1: Going fat-free

Reckon you’re doing a good turn by choosing the light or fat-free yoghurt over the full-fat? Er, wrong. “Fat does not make you fat,” explains Lyda. “In fact, we need it for energy, to transport vitamins and antioxidants around the body.”

The science bit? “When food companies remove a nutrient like fat to make a food fat-free, they have to add something back to make it palatable,” says Lyda. “These flavour-boosting ingredients generally include a hodgepodge of chemicals you can’t pronounce (eh, PUFAs, anyone?), refined carbohydrates, and ample amounts of sugar. Together, these additives can be detrimental to your fat loss goals.”

Instead, focus on eating healthy fats from nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados and coconut oil.

Calorie counting promotes thinking about food in completely the wrong way.

Mistake 2: Counting calories

Totting up your daily calorie intake doesn’t necessarily guarantee success either.

“Calorie counting promotes thinking about food in completely the wrong way,” explains Lyda. “When you count calories, you want to get as much food as possible in for as little calories as possible.”

That’s means you tend to opt for low-fat, zero-fat, low-calorie and processed foods (yep, like the ones we just mentioned) which are loaded with chemicals that can wreak havoc on your metabolism. “As a result, you may trick your body into starvation mode, meaning you will simultaneously store more fat so your body can support itself.”

Mistake 3: Not getting enough sleep

Ever noticed that the sleepier you feel the more tempted you are to reach for that hazelnut latte and white chocolate and raspberry square? That’s cos a lack of sleep has major consequences for your blood sugar and in turn, your food choices.

“Lack of sleep, or poor sleep can slow your metabolism, cause cravings for sugar and carbs, make you eat more, and drive up your risk of heart disease and diabetes,” explains Lyda. “Getting enough sleep is essential for your health and it’s an easy way to maintain blood sugar balance and lose weight.” Guess we’ll be getting in our eight hours then so…

A cheat meal is perfectly fine and actually good for the body and mind from time to time.

Mistake 4: Clocking off for the weekend

A cheat meal is perfectly fine and actually good for the body and mind from time to time,” says Lyda. “However, a full weekend binge will only reverse all the good work you did in the days before. Depending on your goals and progress, one cheat meal, sometimes two, is usually okay, but get back to eating your healthy foods as soon as possible.”

The lesson? Order that pizza but don’t wash it down with two bottles of wine, three packets of Tayto and a tub of ice cream. Moderation is key.

Mistake 5: Eating too many health foods

Gluten-free brownies are healthy, right? Um, no, not necessarily. “The market for so-called health foods has grown rapidly in the past few decades,” says Lyda. “On these foods, you will find labels full of buzzwords like organic and gluten-free. The problem with many of these foods is that they usually aren’t healthy at all. Organic sugar is still sugar and gluten-free junk food is still junk food.”

Lyda’s advice? It’s best to avoid processed, packaged foods. Yep, even if they are found in the health food aisle.

Mistake 6: Going on a diet

And if you really want to stay trim and look after your health, Lyda says you should avoid going on a diet at all. “If your health goals are long term, then going on a diet is the worst thing you could do,” she instructs. “Don’t get sucked in by the latest research or success stories. Generally, fad diets work. If you can’t or won’t keep it up for the rest of your life then it’s not a diet worth trying because healthy eating is about a permanent lifestyle change.”