Even with the best intentions there are diet mistakes women over fifty frequently make that slow down their weight loss. Anyone who has ever tried to shed weight knows it’s not easy but unfortunately we routinely make common errors that actually sabotage our success.In theory, losing weight is a simple formula: eat healthy food in modest quantities and exercise more. However, even if you succeed at that, there could be other mistakes you are making when dieting that are holding you back from seeing the results you want. Here are 8 simple swaps to immediately increase weight loss in women over fifty:
- ALWAYS CHOOSING FAT-FREE OPTIONS. It’s embedded in our brains that fat=bad. So when grocery shopping we automatically opt for fat-free options. But fat-free isn’t always healthier than full-fat items because many times fat-free foods actually have more sugar to make up for flavor. Try This Instead: If you want to reduce your overall fat intake eat more foods that are naturally low in fat but filling such as fruits and veggies. Add avocados and nuts to your diet to get the fat your body needs.
- DRINKING YOUR CALORIES. Many middle-aged women follow the current smoothie and juicing trend believing that these liquid meals have few calories. While juices and smoothies can be healthy options they are not as low calorie as we think. Try This Instead: Eat your calories with solid food and stick with water or seltzer for hydration. Unsweetened iced tea or coffee are great choices. My go to is home made flavored waters as they only taste fattening!
- PORTION CONTROL. Most of us believe healthier foods have fewer calories and therefore we tend to eat as much of them as we want. While swapping junk foods with more nutritious options is a good habit, it’s important to be mindful that they still do have calories. Try This Instead: Make those healthy switches, but be certain to always read the calorie count and portion size correctly so you aren’t overindulging.
- EATING LESS FREQUENTLY. This goes back to the weight loss mantra of “eat less move more.” While consuming less calories is critical to weight loss, eating less frequently is not the answer. Having just three meals a day can actually cause you to overeat at each meal. Try This Instead: To keep your metabolism at its peak, eat small meals throughout the day. So instead of eating a giant breakfast with the hope that you will stay full until lunch, have a smaller breakfast, a little snack mid-morning, and a small lunch.
- ALWAYS GOING FOR THE SALAD. Salads can be a very healthy, low-calorie option if you do it right. However, rich dressings and extras like glazed nuts, bacon, or croutons add lots of extra calories to that salad. Many times we don’t even feel full after eating a salad. Try This Instead: When making a salad, toss a serving of brown rice or beans into your greens. This will give it a little more substance and keep you full. Or substitute the salad with a non-cream based soup and half a protein packed sandwich.
- EATING LIKE AN ATHLETE AFTER YOU WORKOUT. Exercising regularly is vital to your health and keeps your metabolism going. However, working out usually does not burn as many calories as you think. Don’t get tricked into believing that you need a calorie packed protein shake or bar after you exercise. Try This Instead: If losing weight is your goal have a small snack after you exercise and include those calories when assessing your daily caloric intake.
- NOT KEEPING TRACK OF EVERYTHING. Food diaries are a great way to really see what we are consuming. Keeping track in our minds is not the same as writing them down in an organized fashion. It’s extremely important to write down everything you eat and drink because that Venti iced latte has a lot of calories. It’s not a cup of black coffee! And definitely don’t forget that “little” snack before sleep — I had a bad habit of eating gluten-free crackers on my way to bed every night and cut it out when I realized I was adding about 300 calories. Try This Instead: To hold yourself more accountable, keep a food and fitness journal. Or track on a fitness app. Either way keep track of everything you consume.
- ALWAYS ORDERING THE “HEALTHIEST” FOOD ON THE MENU. Dining out while watching your weight is tricky. You might think a salad and half a turkey sandwich is healthier than a slice or two of pizza, but as mentioned earlier, that salad can rack up the calories quickly. Try This Instead: If you know you are dining out, look up the menu ahead of time to find healthy food options. And always remember to order your meal “your way.” If you wait until you get to the restaurant to choose, you can easily mistake an item to be “healthy” when it’s really not.
Losing weight is difficult, especially for women over fifty so it’s important not to self sabotage. You will make mistakes and sometimes feel like you’ve hit a wall so be certain to make these 8 simple swaps to immediately increase weight loss. Every little bit helps in achieving your goals.
If you want to learn how to keep a food journal (I firmly believe in it) these series of posts explains exactly how to do it:
7 Days to Diet Awareness: Women Over 50
Sunday and Monday Food Journal
Tuesday and Wednesday Food Journal
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Food Journal