In the perpetual quest of losing weight, it is a known fact that exercising and maintaining a healthy diet goes hand in hand. Alas, the ideal weight remains to be out of reach regardless of the amount of effort put in for exercise and observing a cautionary diet. This can be attributed to the lesser-known fact of diet sabotages.

Here are 5 ways a diet can be sabotaged.

1. Wolfing down on food

In a state of hunger, it is easy to feel a range of emotions, especially anger. Fortunately, hunger can be easily fixed with the next meal, thus restoring all emotions to its equilibrium state. It is therefore expected that once the meal is served in front of a “hangry” person, the food disappears as if it was inhaled instead of chewed.

A 2013 study by British researchers discovered that people who chewed each bite of their lunch for at least 30 seconds consumed half as much candy later in the day as those who ate more quickly. The researchers concluded that chewing food at a snail’s pace can help in decreasing the chances of snacking on junk food later on as the meals are remembered for longer.

Apart from eating at a slower pace, it is also best not to be completely hungry to the point of starving. Have frequent meals in smaller portions with healthy snacking options in between meals to stave off hunger.

2. Forbidding certain foods

Having certain types of food - usually the calorie-packed and sinfully sweet kind - on the forbidden food list may cause more harm than good in a weight loss plan.

“Making things forbidden can always cause trouble,” said obesity researcher Jennifer Linde, an assistant professor in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

In fact, one recent Spanish study found that including some forbidden foods in a weight loss plan can provide real benefits. In the study, researchers found that women who ate bread as part of their low calorie diets still lost weight and felt more full and satisfied after meals than women who cut out all bread. Similarly, Linde argues that allowing a small amount of forbidden foods prevents high calorie binging, resulting in happiness with the diet plan and keeping on track with weight loss.

3. Late night binging

While it is agreed that having cheat foods is not such a bad idea, some may overindulge in late night binging sessions. This can happen when staying up late, getting a bit antsy and raiding the pantry. Adding a few decadent items like cookies, cakes and ice cream in moderation is fine, just as long as it is done in the early parts of the day.

Indulging in calorific foods earlier in the day can take advantage of the body’s metabolism, which is higher in the morning and generally wanes as the day progresses. In addition, eating early will render more time for digestion and burning of the calories.

In trying to resist sweet temptations, adding a reasonable amount of dark chocolate or small cookies to breakfast may break the forbidden food cycle feeling, thus helping in avoiding cravings throughout the day.

4. Not sleeping enough and skipping breakfast

Studies have shown that proper sleeping habits are essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night is the aim. Sleeping late might succumb one to piling on the calories through late night binging. A study showed that people who are sleep-deprived eat about 550 calories more throughout the day than people who are well rested.

In addition, sleeping in the next day to recover the lost sleep and subsequently skipping the most important meal of the day is a telltale sign of diet sabotage. Eating a breakfast that contains both protein and carbohydrates helps overweight people lose weight and normal-weight people maintain weight over time.

5. Not enough water but high in liquid calories

Linde says many people ignore the full calorie content of their drinks, commonly making costly diet mistakes like drinking too much alcohol or sugary drinks. "You can fill up on liquids but still need to eat, so you've consumed a lot more calories than you intended," she says. Stick with water, unsweetened tea and sugar-free drinks.

A better alternative is to make sure that the calories are in solid form; an orange is better than orange juice. A study conducted by scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center found that post-meal hunger and desire to eat were greater when subjects consumed liquid calories compared with when they ingested the same amount of energy from solid food. The scientists found that the solid meal led to a greater drop in the "hunger hormone” ghrelin, than the liquid meal did. MIMS

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5 common mistakes that lead to mindless dieting