3 common diet mistakes

Diet advice is everywhere: TV, radio, internet, your mother, your friends, your spouse, your kid’s teacher, your hairdresser.  Me.  Other registered dietitians.  We’re saturated with diet advice.  So I’m always surprised to meet clients who are making the same old diet mistakes we’ve been warning about for the past 40 years.

  1. Skipping Breakfast and/or eating a small simple-carb breakfast, heavy on sugar or refined grains.  Examples: sugared cereal and milk; a giant mocha latte, a sweetened chai and scone, a pastry and coffee, a glass of juice.  The list could go on, and the end result is the same.  You didn’t eat anything substantial enough to hold you over until lunch time.  You may get hungry mid-morning, or it may not hit you until 4 p.m. or until you get home in the evening.  But lack of food early in the day eventually catches up with you.  And if you’re trying to control your appetite and calorie intake, coming home starving at the end of the day, with nothing to do but eat is a very bad plan.  Better Breakfasts: hot or cold whole grain cereal with  milk and fruit; eggs and toast with juice; yogurt and fruit; yogurt smoothie with fresh fruit; breakfast burrito with eggs, potatoes and vegetables.  You get the picture: eat something substantial.
  2. Constantly picking at food, in an attempt to stifle hunger.  I know nuts and whole grain crackers and organic snack bars, rice cakes, fruit and yogurt all have a health halo, but you don’t need to eat every 45 minutes.  Give your digestive system a rest.  After a meal, take a 3 hour respite from food, unless you have some condition that demands eating more frequently.  Being hungry is good.  It means you’ve digested your last meal, and your blood sugar and insulin have gone down.
  3. Underestimating vegetables.  A lot of people talk a good talk when it comes to vegetables, but few actually eat enough.  If you want to feel full and cut calorie intake, loading your plate with vegetables is a great strategy, preferably fresh raw, but lightly steamed or sauteed or baked are also fine.  Actually, I’m not sure there’s any downside to eating more vegetables, unless your idea of a vegetable is limited to iceberg lettuce with gobs of dressing.

There you are.  Three common diet mistakes that are very easy to fix.  Eat a decent breakfast, stop picking at food all day long (however organic or healthy your snacks may be), and eat more vegetables.

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