Working hard usually pays, but it may not necessarily be the case in the quest to attain the ideal body weight. There are lots of contributing factors like age, metabolism rate, exercise routine and proper diet that can affect a weight loss plan.

However, it could simply be because of sneaky unknown nutrition traps that had a hand in sabotaging the weight loss plan. This is a case where working smart pays more than working hard.

Look out for these 5 ways of how a diet can be sabotaged:

1. Buying on impulse

Going to the supermarket without having a shopping list handy is treading on dangerous grounds. Chances are there will be lots of unneeded items in the shopping cart based on the store’s special promotions, usually from the snack and junk food aisles.

A study showed that individuals who make stimulus-based decisions when shopping instead of choosing items based on a pre-written list are more likely to succumb to urges for junk food. Supermarkets are designed to push us towards impulse buying, so adding unplanned purchases to the cart is essentially adding inches to the waist.

Another thing to note is not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Everything in the store will look delicious and tempting to a hungry person, thus increasing the chances of buying on a whim, which is harmful to both the pocket and the waistline.

2. Falling for the fat-free label

Products with the fat-free or low-fat label on supermarket shelves often lure the weight-conscious. However, these labels are often traps as the low-fat yogurt or the fat-free peanut butter is actually loaded in sugar; a means of compensation by the manufacturer to make the products taste as good as their regular-fat counterparts.

A 2013 study fed subjects identical meals on separate occasions, but gave them different information about the meals; one was said to be lower in fat and calories than the other. The researchers found that men consumed on average 3% more calories when eating meals they believed to be low-fat. The low-fat label acts as an excuse for increased consumption, thinking that more is needed to equate an appropriate serving size.

This will result in higher calorie consumption and choosing the full-fat version in reasonable servings is the better way to go to achieve weight loss. What is more, the fat will stave off hunger for a lot longer and avoid snacking later on.

3. Eating mindlessly

Not being present while eating meals is a costly diet sabotage. Dividing attention between eating and watching television could unknowingly lead to a derailed weight loss plan.

A review of studies published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that eating while watching television was strongly associated with the consumption of higher portions of calorie-dense food and drink. Further, researchers from the University of Bristol discovered that people who ate a meal while playing a computer game consumed double the number of calories for dessert 30 minutes later than those who dined distraction-free.

Mealtimes should be properly allocated and observed in its proper setting like the dining table at a set time and the office pantry at lunch time, instead of on the couch or in front of the office computer. Also, avoid eating the way out of stress. Comforting foods such as ice cream and chocolates will do little to take away the stress but go a long way in derailing the diet. Instead, distance away from the stress and take it out in regular workout sessions.

4. Losing track of snacks

After tightening up the diet, some weight loss may be noticed. This is no means for a lax in portion control or grazing on snacks. If not careful and self-rewarding one too many times before the target weight is achieved, a lapse might just set one back in the weight loss journey. Eat at frequent intervals so as to keep hunger pangs at bay, but refrain from taking more than the intended serving size.

To be on track for healthy weight loss, it is advisable to keep track of every meal. Write down every food intake in a detailed food journal and be surprised at how fast the calories add up with just a few mouthfuls. A report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine involving nearly 1,700 participants found that those who kept daily food records lost about twice as much body fat as those who failed to jot down what they ate.

5. Eating out

In a society that bonds over food and is increasingly pressed for time, dining outside is often preferred for convenience and socialising. However, most restaurants offer big, unbalanced portion sizes to make it seem more value for money, which results in an avalanche in calories.

Moreover, most restaurants bank their business on serving good tasting food, regardless of what goes inside to result in the tastiness. Choose to be the chef instead and cook hearty homemade meals and invite people over to share the goodness. This will eliminate any questionable ingredient sources and even hygiene factors. When you do eat out, opt for restaurants that displays calorie count so informed decisions can be made, in line with the weight loss plan. MIMS

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