Have you been trying to lose weight for weeks—or even months—without much luck? Before you get too frustrated, look at your food intake with an unbiased view. Is it possible that you’ve been creating your own weight loss obstacles without even realizing it? If so, don’t feel guilty! You’re certainly not alone in this struggle, and once you recognize these stumbling blocks you can work on overcoming them. Here are four of the most common reasons you may not be losing weight and how you can fix them for good!
Misjudging portions. We all ‘think’ we know what a portion size looks like, but if you aren’t measuring out your food servings each time you eat, you could be significantly underestimating. The difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon or a third of a cup versus a half of a cup doesn’t visually appear to be that much, but it could add up to a few hundred extra calories per day if you aren’t careful. Calorie dense foods such as oils, nut butters, and even pastas are very easy to underestimate if you only eye-ball the serving size.
Scale-budging solution: Break out the measuring cups and measure everything you put in your mouth for at least one week. After doing this for a week, see if your weight decreases. If so, chances are you were eating portions larger than you realized.
Drinking on the pounds. Have you been perfect with your diet every day, yet not seeing any results? Perhaps that glass of Chardonnay on Friday (and the three glasses on Saturday) are adding up?! When sticking to a weight loss plan, it’s not just what you eat that you have to watch, what you drink can also have a negative impact on the scale. One glass of wine has about 85 calories. But a true glass of wine is equal to only four ounces. If you like to fill your glass, your ‘glass’ could be providing you with upwards of 200 calories per drink! Multiply that by two or three glasses and you can see where the problem may be.
Scale-budging solution: If you choose to have a drink, limit it to just one and carefully measure out the serving. A glass of wine is equal to four ounces, a beer (choose a light version to save on calories) is equal to 12 ounces, and a serving of liquor is equal to 1.5 ounces. Watch out for calorie-rich mixers such as soda and juice.
Sneaking an extra ‘bite.’ I know many people who live by the philosophy that a bite that’s too small to fit on a plate or a fork doesn’t count. But if the scale isn’t moving, guess what? Those tiny bites do count! Sure a bit here and there may be harmless, but the average ‘bite’ contains between 25-50 calories. If you tend to graze on food throughout the day, it’s quite possible to rack up a large amount of bites leading to a significant calorie intake that you’re not accounting for.
Scale-budging solution: Keep a daily food record. Write down everything you eat and drink, including even the tiniest of bites. This will help you to see how many ‘bites’ you sneak in throughout the day and help you become more accountable. In fact, just the act of writing down what you’re eating can often help deter you from taking too many bites each day.
Late-night snacking. Admit it—we all do it sometimes! Late-night cravings can be hard to resist, and it’s okay to give in once in a while. The truth is, eating close to bedtime doesn’t necessarily cause you to gain weight, but your food choices in the evening can. Think about it: The last time you felt you needed a snack after 10pm, did you really want raw veggies or did you instead want ice cream or chips? At night, most of us tend to crave sweet or salty snacks and make less healthy choices. In addition, being tired at night can lower your willpower and lead to you make less optimal food choices and eat larger portions than you would if you were wide awake.
Scale-budging solution: First, make sure you’re eating meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent late night hunger. Include lean protein and high fiber foods such as vegetables and whole grains at dinner to regulate your evening appetite. And, if late-night snacking is a habit of yours, make a rule for yourself such as only snacking on vegetables or fruit after 7pm.