The 10 Worst Habits Destroying Your Diet

If you’re having problems losing weight or keeping it off, you may have one or more “fat habits”—those daily behaviors, choices, and actions that are keeping you out of your skinny jeans.  Here are 10 of the worst habits and how you can kick them now! By: Julie Upton, MS, RD and  Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, authors of The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions

Fat Habit: Overdoing “diet” foods and beverages

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Fat Habit 1:  Overdoing “diet” foods and beverages

Slim Solution: There’s no “special” diet food or beverage that can equal long-term successful weight loss. In fact, all you need are natural, good-for-you, wholesome foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins to help you peel off pounds.  

Many dieters get stuck on using pricey diet foods, sugar substitutes, diet sodas, and other calorie-reduced items that aren’t a solution for successful long-term weight loss. Studies show that diet foods may even make it harder to reduce cravings for sweets, so use “diet” foods sparingly.

Fat Habit: Food is My BFF

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Fat Habit 2: Food is my BFF

Slim Solution: Most people who have weight woes also suffer from emotional eating. You may snack at work because you’re bored or binge when you need a pick-me-up after a bad day.

To combat emotional eating, you need to practice mindful eating. This means being fully present in the moment (not distracted or watching television) when you eat. Eating mindfully will help you recognize when you’re truly physically hungry and when emotions are taking over. Before you rush to soothe your feelings with food, stop and assess what’s happening. Observe and describe your feelings. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Build self control and try to banish emotional eating that does not come from true hunger.


Fat Habit 3: Trying to be a perfect eater

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Fat Habit 3: Trying to be a perfect eater

Slim Solution: An all-or-nothing approach to eating is too restrictive and unrealistic. It’s like trying to walk on a tightrope for life (we all fall off). Instead of thinking of a strict eating plan that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, focus on strategies that you can, with a little work, realistically live with. 

Expect slip-ups to happen when you’re losing weight. If you fall off the healthy train and have a bad day, week, or month, just think: Life Happens. And start fresh tomorrow.



Fat Habit: Not having a support system

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Fat Habit 4: Not having a support system

Slim Solution: Friends and family may not take weight loss very seriously. Explain your mission and ask for their support. This offers a two-for-one benefit: Not only does it make them aware of how they influence your eating and exercise habits, but it also makes you more accountable for your actions. Another perk: You will have a built-in support system to turn to when times get tough.

Finding a diet buddy can significantly increase the odds that you’ll reach your goals. One study from Brown University found that dieters with diet buddies lost significantly more weight compared with those who tried to slim down solo. If you can’t find someone in your real life to join you, use online weight loss support networks at sites like SparkPeople, Lose It!, and MyFitnessPal.



Fat Habit: Ditching your favorite foods

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Fat Habit 5: Ditching your favorite foods

Slim Solution: Diets won’t work for the long run if you deprive yourself of your favorite foods. What’s life without a little chocolate, cookies, or ice cream? Simple fact: If you have to say no to your favorite foods all the time, it won’t be too long before you snap, and start saying yes, yes, yes to everything in sight.

As long as you plan for occasional indulgences, you can enjoy them—guilt-free. If you honor your hunger, you’ll naturally limit the amount of high-calorie splurges that you eat.

Try these 100-Calorie Chocolate Treats for a really guilt-free indulgence.




Fat Habit: Expecting too much, too soon

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Fat Habit 6: Expecting too much, too soon

Slim Solution: “I want to lose 10 pounds—yesterday!” If that’s you, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Chances are you didn’t gain 10 or 20 pounds in a month; so don’t expect to shred them in a matter of weeks.

Regardless of what you see on TV (i.e., "Biggest Loser") or read in the Hollywood tabloids, weight loss is a long, often slow, process. Your job is to enjoy the journey of healthy eating and exercise and not get too focused on the end-point of where you want to be.




Fat Habit: You’re a distracted diner

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Fat Habit 7: You’re a distracted diner

Slim Solution:  If you eat and do anything else at the same time, you’ve got a seriously bad habit to address.  There’s significant research showing that adults and children who have the most screen time, (computer, smart phones, videos, TV) are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Studies show that distracted eaters gobble up to 100% more after a meal compared to mindful eaters, and those who watch TV and eat consume 20 to 100% more calories compared to individuals who eat without distractions. When the brain is distracted, it takes significantly more calories to get the same level of satiety. Power down and focus on your food.





Fat Habit: You eat out more than twice a week

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Fat Habit 8: You eat out more than twice a week

Slim Solution: Research shows that people who eat out two or more times a week are more likely to gain several pounds per year compared to those who eat out less frequently.

Reserve eating out for special occasions and manage calories by reading the menu and nutrition information available. Forgo all the extras and stick with the most basic options.






Fat Habit: Drinking calories—not eating them

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Fat Habit 9: Drinking calories—not eating them

Slim Solution: People are drinking a larger proportion of their calories than ever, and because liquids are less filling than eating real food, it may lead to overconsumption of calories. Sugary beverages—including sodas, fruit drinks, and flavored waters—are also linked to increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers because they cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels that are metabolically damaging.  Avoid sugary beverages and alcohol as much as possible and limit dairy beverages and fruit-based beverages to no more than 150 calories per day.



Fat Habit: Skimping on your ZZZs

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Fat Habit 10: Skimping on your ZZZs

Slim Solution: This may be the simplest of all fat habits to break: Get more sleep. Insufficient sleep is linked to excess weight and obesity because being tired negatively impacts areas of the brain that help us make informed, healthier choices. One study found that adults subjected to only 5 hours of sleep for 5 days ate some 6 percent more in daily calories, and consumed a larger proportion of calories from snacks at night. While there is no magical number to strive for, most adults need about 7 to 9 hours a night.


The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions

The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions

These tips are an excerpt from the book The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions. Find more about the book here. 


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