You're making the effort with your diet, so why aren't you losing weight? Here are the hidden calories ruining your healthy eating habits
The sabotage effect
According to nutritionist Patrick Holford (www.holforddiet.com), foods processed to be low fat are often high in simple carbohydrates because they contain added sugars to improve the taste. 'Carbohydrate-rich foods can send your blood sugar sky high,' he explains. 'This triggers an insulin release that makes your blood sugar drop, which makes you hungry - so you just end up eating again and consuming more calories throughout the day.'
Make it healthier
Zoë Harcombe, author of Why Do You Overeat? When All You Want Is To Be Slim (Accent Press, £9.99), says we'd be better off eating full-fat foods - but in smaller quantities - since fat takes longer to digest and so helps you to feel full. 'Try it out with a full-fat yogurt versus a low-fat one - the full-fat one will not only taste nicer and be more satisfying, but it'll make you feel fuller for longer,' she says.
Clever swap: One full-fat natural yogurt instead of two low-fat ones saves you 50 calories.
Calories saved: 50
Got a bottle of water on your desk to encourage you to keep hydrated throughout the day? There's no denying that drinking more water is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy, but sitting at your desk all day rather than getting up and going to the water cooler whenever you need a top-up is bad for your back, and reduces the amount of calories you burn every day, says celebrity fitness trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read (www. lwrfitness.com).
'Instead of just sipping away at a two-litre bottle of water, stick to a 500ml one and set an alarm on your PC that flashes up every hour to remind you to get up for a refill,' says Lucy. 'Each time, visit the water cooler furthest from your desk - better still, choose one on another floor and take the stairs.'
Clever swap: A two-minute walk to the water cooler six times a day will burn an extra 120 calories - that's the equivalent of a glass of red wine when you get home!
Calories saved: 120
Have you swapped chocolate, biscuits and crisps for seeds, nuts and dried fruit to make your snacking habits healthier? Well done! But if you're gorging on unlimited amounts during the day, you could well be gaining extra pounds as these healthier, nutrient-rich snacks are often just as high in calories, says Sam Jones, co-founder of Blue Skies Fitness (www.blueskiesfitness.co.uk). 'Just because natural snacks are better for you than a biscuit, it doesn't mean that you can eat as much of them as you like and still expect to lose weight,' she says.
'If you want to munch on seeds and nuts, buy snack-size packs instead of dipping into a family-size bag throughout the day,' says Sam. 'Try to eat no more than a handful of nuts over the course of the day to minimise your fat and calorie intake. Alternatively opt for fresh fruit or some raw veggies instead - they're full of water so they will fill you up more, too.'
Clever swap: An apple, a medium carrot and three sticks of celery eaten with a salsa dip instead of a 50g bag of seeds or nuts saves you 185 calories.
Calories saved: 185
The sabotage effect
Cutting your portion size in half can seem like the perfect way to have a little of what you fancy - whether that's a takeaway curry or a sharing a pizza for lunch with your friends - without feeling deprived or putting on weight. But that's not always the case. 'Your body actually loses weight most effectively when you're eating three substantial meals a day,' explains Zoë Harcombe. 'Having smaller portions can also make you feel deprived, and leave you hungry, so you're much more likely to snack between meals.'
Make it healthier
Sticking to standard portions means you're less likely to reach for the biscuit tin mid afternoon. As a guide, a standard portion of pasta is the size of a tennis ball, a portion of cheese the size of a matchbox and a portion of meat or fish the size of a deck of cards. And don't assume you can overload on healthy veg... a portion should fit into a single cupped hand.
Clever swap: By eating a standard portion of chicken and spinach pasta, instead of half a portion - plus the inevitable five chocolate digestives to stop your tummy rumbling - you'll save 100 calories.
Calories saved: 100
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - we all know that. 'But many health-conscious women opt for yogurt, muesli and maybe some fruit or juice,' says Geoff Jowett, founder of Australian weight-loss programme Bodytrim (www.bodytrim.au). 'This sets you up to fail as the high sugar levels lead to a blood sugar spike, and the inevitable dip leaves you craving cakes and biscuits by mid morning.'
'Believe it or not, a protein-rich breakfast, such as poached eggs, trimmed bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes, is ideal to get you going in the morning, says Geoff. 'Protein keeps you fuller for longer and helps to eliminate sugar cravings throughout the day,' he adds. If you don't have time for more than a snatched brekkie, try a cup of unsweetened wholegrain cereal and mix protein powder (from healthfood shops) into your skimmed milk, or try cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes on brown toast.
Clever swap: Geoff's full English - instead of muesli, yogurt, fruit and juice - saves 250 calories. Unsweetened cereal saves 230, while cottage cheese on toast saves 210.
Calories saved: 250
Banning favourite foods is too restrictive, says Slimming World dietitian Carolyn Pallister. 'It's human nature to want the things you can't have, so when you cut out chocolate or wine you'll find it difficult to ignore cravings. It's only a matter of time until you crack, and when you do, you're likely to binge on the very thing you were trying to cut out,' she says.
Don't make treats your enemy - nothing should banned. Just try to have everything in moderation. 'Rather than vowing never to eat a Dairy Milk ever again, you need to focus your energy on strengthening your willpower when there's chocolate around,' says Carolyn. 'Commit to limiting yourself to one bar a week and you'll be more likely to stick to it in the long term.'
Clever swap: Don't buy a large bar of chocolate with the intention of saving half for later. Instead, pick up a fun size portion so it's harder to 'accidentally' eat more.
Calories saved: 380
Posted: 13/03/2012 at 11:22
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