Diet Destroyers | Dr. Jen Hennessey’s Health Corner

Eating healthy is simply a matter of filling up on lettuce and cutting out bread, right? Wrong! Many of us have great intentions of losing weight and take steps toward a more lean body, yet miss the mark much of the time, despite what we attempt in the form of “dieting”. Of course, many aspects factor into the outcome of a revamped healthy eating plan, but when you fail to see the results you desire, consider that you were possibly the victim of hidden sabotages hindering your progress.

As you head into a healthy eating plan, there are at least 5 common hidden weight gain traps that you should avoid on your journey to health and wellness. Hidden obstacles that impede improvement and all too often lead to a disappointing attempt to eat well and take better care of yourself.

First, food labels are misleading thanks to the savvy designing and marketing of many companies. Identifiers like “fat free” and “low fat” adorn bags and box covers like a hidden hook, luring you with temptation and the irresistible “get lean with this item” bait. Creative labeling can appear like that simple answer to a complicated problem; they are attention grabbers for those looking for weight management foods by appearing to provide a tasty, short cut. Fat free items may be loaded with calories, might be of an unfair serving size, and/or filled with other obstacles, such as sugar.

As you hunt down the right way to fuel, look for items with low to no sugar as a second step. Fat free or not, goodies that are loaded with sugar will be equally, if not more, fattening when consumed.  Sugar is a carbohydrate, providing a source of energy for the body, that is often consumed in excess and our common sources of sugar are often listed as “high glycemic” ones.  These especially lend themselves towards many negative effects on the body, including weight gain. We will cover the various carbohydrates and glycemic definitions in an upcoming article!

Portion control and “serving size” are often 2 different realities. Reading labels prior to snacking or feasting is a way at least to respect what was intended for the meal portion (even if you choose to create your own!).  Small meal portions are vital to revamping what your stomach needs. Small portions consumed more frequently through the day are key to improving your metabolism or energy burn. My 10 almond portion along with my ground turkey meal puts “reality” in perspective for me every time… my cravings would always outmatch my idea of meal size if I didn’t measure and count to keep me accountable. When you are “eating out”, one big sabotage is that meal serving sizes are to ensure you get every penny’s worth, but truly are much more than one meal in itself. Enjoy part of the meal and take the rest for later, or share with a loved one.  This has the added benefit of saving money as you are only getting 1 meal versus 2!

Now, let’s get real and right down to what makes a healthier product to add in your meal plan menu. Cut out foods with a mixture of ingredients and find items labeled with the fewest ingredients. Examples include swapping a loaf of bread with 14 ingredients to the one with just 5. This is a much tougher challenge than it sounds. After all, aren’t all loaves of bread all the same? Reality shows us that fewer ingredients are “cleaner” foods and will generally include items with fewer artificial and synthetic additives. Essentially, there were less steps in creating the item, therefore less processing, less handling, etc. This means that the item will be as close to its original status before landing on your plate…some might even say it’s more natural.  I will cover clean eating and why it’s better for you in an additional article as this topic is very important for overall wellness and maximum health.

To diet does not mean to starve. One common error that will backfire on your attempt at weight loss, and may even lead to weight gain, is over restriction of food and depriving yourself. Under-feeding leads your body and its ability to burn calories (called metabolism) into thinking you are in a crisis or even starvation of undetermined time span. This triggers your fat burning to halt and your body to do what it does best… protect you from what it perceives which is the risk of starving to death. Your body will conserve energy burning and store what it can to keep you alive. Skipping meals in attempt to get skinny is the opposite path to take from the weight loss track. You may lose pounds on the scale ultimately but you also lose vital muscle and tissue that the body needs to truly thrive. A healthy appetite and frequent small meals are the way to speed up caloric burn and get you closer to that lean body you want. We will cover snacking and selecting those meals smartly, soon!

Eating healthy isn’t about depriving, it’s about understanding the choices you are making towards your diet destination. As a starting point of mapping out your journey, read labels, make sure to feed yourself when hungry, and avoid adding too much “energy” within meals. Eating on-the-go tricks and other creative fast food alternatives will help you miss the traps due to a fast-paced schedule and a restaurant setting. Nutrition is complicated. More will be shared soon as I expand these topics including selecting smart fats and wise carbs, with some suggested equations to help land your goals.  You now have a map with some pit falls marked as well as a better idea of how to traverse through nutrition and meal planning. Little steps and lots of learning are the starting ingredients needed to direct your determination when striving for a healthier you!