Trying to eat healthier? Great. Just avoid these 9 common diet mistakes.
One of the happiest days of my life was when I found out that chocolate (yes, chocolate!) was actually good for me. The rich, creamy candy I'd been surreptitiously snacking on since I was a kid was packed with heart-healthy antioxidants.
I gleefully loaded up my shopping cart with bars and bags of chocolate -- dark, of course -- and gorged myself silly.
Then I came to another realization. Dark chocolate, though undoubtedly healthy in small quantities, happens to also be loaded with sugar and fat. I owed my thighs a sincere apology.
The problem is, there is no quick fix when it comes to healthy eating.
"A healthy diet relies on a lifelong commitment to eating the right foods and eating the right way," says Sari Greaves, RD, nutrition director at Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in Bedminster, N.J., and an American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman.
Even if you already knew that, you may still go astray when you try to eat healthier.
1. One-Food Wonders
One diet promises that you can lose 10 pounds in a week by eating as much as you want -- as long as what you're eating is cabbage soup. Or grapefruit. Or cookies.
If you go on an extreme, short-term diet, "you're setting yourself up to be very hungry and then bingeing," says Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, CDN, CPT, a registered dietitian in New York and national ADA spokeswoman.
By cutting out entire food groups, you're also prone to nutritional shortfalls and boredom. Eventually, you're going to crave the foods you're missing.
"Even when the diet works...it doesn't teach you how to maintain your weight loss. It's just a gimmick to restrict calories," Nolan says.
Some of the one-food diets can also have unpleasant side effects. Grapefruit acts as a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration, Nolan says. It can also make you gassy and can interact with some drugs, such as those that treat high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.
Fix It: "The bottom line is, if a product or diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Greaves says. She advises steering clear of any diet that promises fast results.
"Weight loss should be a gradual process in which you lose no more than half a pound to 1 pound a week by eating a well-rounded diet," Greaves says.