Table of Contents
- Are you hungry or thirsty?
- Diet trackers can be misleading
- What about the hidden calories, are you counting them too?
- Are you sleeping less? You are probably eating more
Are you sabotaging your diet? You might.
I am not talking about not following through with your weight loss plan. I am talking about the things you do to mess up your efforts, mostly because you don’t know how they impact your plans. To make matters worse, most are not even aware of how simple, everyday rituals or habits can destroy your program.
Dieting is never just about healthy eating. It’s not about eating vegetables or exercising regularly. It’s not about what you do, but how you do it and when. It is also about the bad habits you have.
For those who are struggling to lose weight, it is usually about not having enough information.
It’s frustrating if you don’t see the results you are expecting. The problem is that you are thinking you are doing all the right things.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you feel like you keep sabotaging yourself, you need to dig deeper and learn why.
This article will help you find more information about the ways you can sabotage your diet.
Are you hungry or thirsty?
Were you hungry before I asked you this question? Are you perhaps hungry now? Yes, that’s a good question.
The feeling of hunger is different for everybody. You are experiencing hunger differently in different situations. Sometimes (read: often), the smell is a trigger. Other times, the deliciously prepared food can lure you to take another bite even if you are not hungry. You think you are.
So, when your stomach starts growling, is this a sign of hunger? Probably. Often we are not sure whether we feel hunger or thirst.
Many factors impact the decision to eat: smell, sight, the social aspect, boredom, emotional stress, and more. And this is a massive problem for everyone who wants to have a balanced diet.
How does being hungry feels like?
Hunger is a learned response and a biological instinct. What happens in our organism?
First, hunger hormones in our blood (and an empty stomach) send signals to our brain, informing it that we need food. After a meal, nerves in the stomach send signals back to the brain that we have had enough food.
The trick? It takes around 20 minutes for the communication between the nerves in the stomach and the brain to happen. The problem? When the brain receives the message, you might have already overeaten.
The solution? Listen to your body – carefully.
Eat when you are hungry; not because it’s a particular time of the day.
But, what if you cannot interpret the body signs? You can learn more about the sign of hunger and thirst.
What are the signs of hunger? Or better, how can you tell if you need food?
The first thing to think about is the mechanics of digestion. You might believe you are hungry two hours after lunch, but you are usually wrong.
Factors like your lifestyle and choice of food directly affect the way the digestive system breaks down the food into nutrients. Unhealthy food interferes with the natural processes of the digestive system.
Ask yourself the following questions:
When did you last eat?
When did you eat lunch? Did you eat dessert? Try to think how long has it been since your meal, and take into consideration that the food is digested in around six to eight hours. Moreover, the digestion time also varies between men and women.
How are you feeling? Are you bored, stressed, anxious?
Certain emotions can trick us to perform certain actions that are supposed to compensate for our emotional or mental state. We know emotions can provoke a desire to eat, but be careful, and skeptic, and always question the emotional state you are in. Moreover, try to find a solution to your discomfort or anxiety, and do not seek comfort in food.
Are you thirsty?
Test whether you feel hungry or thirsty. Drink a glass of water and wait for 15 minutes. If you can hear your stomach grumbling, you are not thirsty.
If the water satisfies your needs, you were, in fact, thirsty. Water can help to maintain a balanced diet or lose weight significantly.
Always keep your body hydrated. Some symptoms of dehydration include a headache, nausea, dizziness and dry eyes. Read more about the importance of having your body hydrated.
Finally, don’t starve. You should not ignore the well-known hunger signals. Also, don’t get overly hungry; it can only help you make bad food choices and be bad for your digestive system.
Take a few minutes and question whether you are hungry.
Diet trackers can be misleading
Are you using a diet tracker or a fitness tracker? It seems that technology can deceive us and in fact, help you to gain weight and not shed pounds.
A two-year study analyzed the effects of diet and fitness trackers, and the results are intriguing. People who used wearable fitness trackers didn’t lose weight, the study showed. Moreover, it seems that overweight dieters gained more weight on average than participants who used traditional dieting methods. Researchers were surprised as no clear evidence pointed out to why the trackers seemed to sabotage the efforts to lose weight.
But how trackers work?
The idea of the trackers is mostly to tell you how many calories you have burned. But here’s the twist that can hold you back from losing a few pounds – if you move more, you can eat more. The problem here is that calorie calculations can be inaccurate. While it can help you know how many calories you have eaten, it does not mean it can assist in determining – precisely – how many calories you need to burn.
What can you do?
You can use diet trackers to get the whole picture on how many calories you are eating, but don’t rely too much on the tracking part.
Activity trackers are also an excellent way to have a grasp of how active you are. However, don’t underestimate the data you can get from these gadgets. Some apps can help, and if you use the trackers separately, you can get great information.
To sum it up: research about the pros and cons of every app or tracker you intend to use.
What hidden calories?
If this is the question you are asking, you need to pay more attention to the drinks you consume – the accent here is on drinks, alcohol to be precise.
We are aware of the short and long term risks drinking poses to our health. On the other hand, we know, and studies confirm that moderate alcohol consumption has significant health benefits, mostly for the heart.
We are aware that a glass of wine a day help maintains our optimum health. Red wine contains polyphenols, which are found in the skins of the grapes, which offer many health benefits. But one glass can quickly turn to two, three, four… and counting. And what once was a remedy can become a threat, for our health in general. And this is also a threat to you if you are trying to lose weight.
Do you know how many calories a glass of wine has? Or a glass of beer?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, if you drink a 12-ounce glass of beer, there are about 150 calories for you. If you prefer wine, a 5-ounce glass of red wine has about 125 calories.
What can you do?
Every time you order a drink, think about moderate consumption. Not only because of the calories but because of the health risks. The “healthy” amount of alcohol is often lower than you think.
Are you sleeping less? You are probably eating more
The science behind the connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain is simple: if you sleep less, you will eat more. And not only eat more, but crave food, eat at night, snack often, and have bad food choices.
Many people are sleep deprived without even realizing the consequences it has for their health and nutrition and life in general. What happens when you sleep less?
Sleep deprivation equals increased appetite
One study showed that people with sleep deprivation (less than seven hours a day) ate an average of 549 extra calories each day. It means that they could gain a pound a week if they didn’t break the habit. The conclusion from the scientists was that lack of sleep impacts leptin, the hormone that signals the feeling of fullness and leads to the overproduction of the hormone ghrelin that increases your appetite, indicating the sense of hunger. Also, the more ghrelin you produce, the fewer calories you will burn as the hormone impacts your metabolism, increasing the fat in your body.
Sleep deprivation results in excessive snacking
When you sleep less, you also exercise less. All you are thinking about is how to have a good night sleep, and your body is feeling the same. The problem is that a decrease in physical activity results in an increase in excessive snacking.
Less than eight hours of sleep does not only make you crave unhealthy food (read: high-carbohydrate, and high-fat food) but also impacts your rational judgment on the consequences of such food. And it only takes a single night of poor sleep to increase cravings.
Overeating caused by the lack of sleep also deprives the body of the essential nutrients. One study showed that people who sleep less consume half the fruits and vegetable servings they need, which results in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Scientists at the University of Chicago analyzed what happens to our fat cells after just four days of poor sleep. “Metabolic grogginess,” that’s what your body suffers from. The result? The body’s ability to use insulin is disrupted, leading to storing up fat in the liver.
Less sleep increases cortisol level
Sleep deprivation impacts the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with fat gain. The result is that brain centers signal you that you need more food, even if you don’t. For the worse, stress also affects the ghrelin hormone. When both hormones are in disbalance, you cannot decide whether you need more food or not. You feel hungry all the time because the areas of the brain which are supposed to tell you that you are satisfied, don’t work.
Less sleep determines when you eat
As natural sleep patterns are out of balance, people who sleep less tend to experience a delay in their meals. When the balance is interrupted, the dinner is usually after 8 p.m., which means that eating habits additionally impact sleep patterns. The result is that the more you eat at night, your organism needs more time to digest the food, preventing the body from rest during the evening, before you go to bed. And it’s not just the body. The mind cannot rest, and you usually wake up with the feeling of hunger the next day. “Late sleepers” are caught in a vicious circle of dieting and poor nutrition.
Sleep has a vital role in healthy nutrition. The benefits of a good sleep go beyond just making you feel better. As you can see, it significantly impacts your nutrition, food choice, eating habits. If you lack sleep, it’s time you change this bad habit.
Now, let’s ask the question again: can you be the reason behind your diet and nutrition fails?
It might be hard for you to admit that culprit is, in fact, you, but is having a balanced diet the goal you are trying to accomplish? Is losing weight your goal?
If the answers are positive, then it’s time you face yourself. Bad habits are hard to break, but not impossible. Be honest and learn what lies behind your problems with weight loss and balanced nutrition.
Are you sabotaging your diet? Share your experience with us in comments.
Image credit: DepositPhotos.com
Last article update: 10/9/2019