3 Common Weight Loss Pitfalls

SBM: 3-common-weight-loss-pitfalls

Laura Aylward, MS; PhD Candidate, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science

I worked in a bariatric surgery clinic for a year and encountered hundreds of adults seeking weight loss surgery. Although everyone had their own unique story and motivation for pursuing weight loss surgery, I noticed common eating habits, weight loss mistakes, and trends over the year.  The following outlines these common mistakes when trying to lose weight and offers tips for weight loss.

Weight Loss Pitfall #1: Drinking Sugary Beverages.

There’s been an increasing focus in public health on how detrimental sugar-sweetened beverage consumption can be to health. Sugar-sweetened beverages are drinks with added sugar, which is a term that often causes a lot of confusion. Examples of added sugar include high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and maltose. But don’t forget it also includes honey, raw sugar, molasses, and brown sugar. It’s hard to keep up with all of sugar’s aliases, I know.

Sugary drinks include soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Several cities across the U.S. have increased taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages in an attempt to curb consumption.

While soda is the focus of many efforts to curb consumption of sugary beverages, people often forget about juice. Since juice is fruit-based, people often perceive juice as healthy, despite all the sugar. However, dieticians typically recommend that you should eat a whole orange instead of simply drinking orange juice because eating fruit provides fiber, which keeps you fuller longer. Additionally, people typically eat fewer calories when they consume oranges compared to when they drink orange juice because 8 ounces of orange juice is roughly equivalent to the juice that comes from three oranges. Think about it—are you more likely to eat three oranges or drink 8 ounces of juice in one sitting?  

Weight Loss Pitfall #2: Waiting Too Long To Eat.

People often lose track of their hunger signals throughout the day when they’re busy focusing on other things. Going 6 or more hours without food not only makes you vulnerable to being ‘hangry,’ but often causes people to eat faster and more to try to satiate themselves. Have you ever regretted eating something, no matter how delicious it might have been, because you felt uncomfortably full? Like you wish you were wearing elastic pants instead of jeans? Since it takes about 20 minutes for the food that is swallowed to register in the stomach, the feeling of fullness is delayed and people could continue to eat for several minutes after they actually reached a comfortable level of satiation.

Slow down the pace of your eating and consider separating eating and drinking to help recognize when you’re full. Using the hunger scale is another helpful tool to keep tabs on your hunger throughout the day and start eating within the ideal range. It works like this: Hunger is ranked on a scale from 1 (“ravenous”) to 10 (“stuffed”), where 5 is considered “comfortable.” You want to start eating at a 3 (“hungry”) and stop eating at or a little before a 7 (“full”). Practice avoiding getting to either extreme end of the scale to help keep your calorie intake in check.

Weight Loss Pitfall #3: Eating For Unknown Reasons.

Food has cultural and social bases, there’s no doubt about that. But, the role that stress, sadness, anger, and loneliness can play in eating is worth examining. Extra calories may be coming from times when hunger is not physiologically based but rather more emotionally-driven. How do you tell the difference? Ask yourself whether you are choosing a food that is nutrient-filled or palatable. If you’re not willing to eat those carrots and hummus that you packed for snack, it’s likely that something else is driving your craving.

If you are working to maintain or lose weight, consider these weight management tips to help you with long-term success. Keep in mind too that eating and drinking are only part of healthy weight management. Burning fat, strength training, lifting weights, and general physical activity is equally important in your weight loss and maintenance goals.


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