We all know losing weight is a challenge and diet, exercise and patience are key. Making lifestyle changes are difficult and you have to be motivated and driven to sustain them and even more driven to keep the weight off. After a busy clinic last week, I began to think about perceived 'healthy' changes people make to their diets which are, in fact, slowing down their weight loss. These are the usual suspects:
1) Flavoured Waters
These are often seen as a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks and smoothies, but taking a closer look, these are actually laden with sugar. Depending on the brand, the amount of sugar can vary from 10 - 45g sugar per serving. Translated into teaspoons, that's 2 - 9 teaspoons per drink which is a phenomenal amount. These are extra calories our bodies don't need and they'll be turned into fat, if they're not burned off. The solution? Drink regular water, low sugar options, no added sugar squash or flavoured teas, which will help you meet your daily fluid needs without slowing down weight loss.
2) Shop Bought Salads
We all lead very busy lives and often don't have the time to prepare lunch in the working week. When you're 'being healthy' or trying to shift a few pounds, salad seems to be a popular lunch time option. But beware, shop bought salads can be packed full of calories due to the dressing they come with. Whether it's Ranch, Caesar, Honey Mustard or Thousand Island dressing, they all pack a punch with calories. The solution? Toss the dressing aside and buy a lower calorie vinaigrette option. Alternatively, you can make enough of your own that will last the week.
3) Portion Size
We know our portion sizes have increased over the years which has even earned the name "Portion Distortion". Our perception of what a normal portion size is often incorrect. Thanks to large plate size, retail and fast-food restaurants, super-sized meals and portions enough to feed two or three people has become the norm. When people says they have reduce their portion, it's really important to confirm the new portion, as they're ideas could be very subjective. Using your hands is a really simple and quick guide to portion size. For instance:
- Use two open hands as a serving for vegetables or salad
- Your fist as a healthy portion of starchy carbohydrates such as rice or pasta
- Your palm as a serving of meat, fish or suitable alternatives
- A fist-size serving of fruit with or between your meals
- And finally, a thumb size serving for fats and oils
4) Too Much Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is always perceived as a healthy option and in the right portion size it is. It's a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre and is classified as one of your five a day. The recommended portion size in the UK is one 150ml glass a day and any more then this isn't advised. Drinking large volumes of fruit juice adds lots of extra calories which can slow down weight loss and also add to dental caries. If you're having fruit, make sure you only have 150ml glass.
5) Not Cutting Back On Alcohol
Alcohol is often referred to as empty calories and not cutting back enough can definitely hamper your weight loss. Consider this, there is approximately 180kcal in a large glass of wine depending on strength, 215kcal in a pint of 5% beer and 240kcal in one bottle of alcopop. Of course these values increase with the increase in percentage alcohol. Be mindful of what your drink, aim to have a number of alcohol free days a week and when you do have a glass of your favourite, opt for a smaller size, try a spritzer or alternate your drinks with something non-alcoholic.
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