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6 Diet Mistakes You Might Be Making And How To Avoid Them

4 MIN READ • 2nd May 2018

Emma Brown, nutritionist for Nutracheck, a barcode scanning UK app with an all UK food database, shares her six top tips on what to avoid and how to track for success

Losing weight comes down to consuming fewer calories than you burn, and using a food diary to count how many calories you’re eating is proven to work. Calorie tracking apps are a brilliant tool to use, but there are still some classic mistakes you can make that can slow down, or even stop your weight loss – even when you think you’re doing everything right. Here are some easy ways to avoid those errors and stay on track for good.

    • 1. Portion distortion Most of us pour breakfast cereal into a bowl until it looks like a reasonable serving. So, we conducted a little experiment in our office and invited people to pour what they believed was 40g of muesli. Almost everyone (91 percent) overestimated the amount! Demonstrating just how easy it is to underestimate portion size. Foods we pour freely, such as cereals, rice and pasta can be the worst culprits. And it seems we’re not alone. Research from Oregon State University revealed that even dietetic students struggle to accurately estimate portion size (and therefore calorie counts) from photos. Only 38 percent guessed the weight of the food pictured to within 10 percent of the correct figure. The best guessers were those who regularly cooked and weighed ingredients. This just goes to prove that if you guess at portion sizes, you will probably be consuming more calories than you think. The only way to get an accurate calorie count is to weigh food until you have a really good picture in your head of what a ‘serving’ looks like. Don’t get caught out. Start tracking what you eat today with a Nutracheck seven day free trial.

    • 2. A selective memory Sadly, there’s no such thing as ‘free food’, as some diets might have you think. All foods contain some calories. Fruit? Yes that counts. Veg? Yep, that too! And don’t forget liquid calories. Five cups of tea with semi skimmed milk contains around 85 cals – over a week that adds up to 595 calories – which need to be counted. Then there’s the squeeze of ketchup, the butter on your sandwiches – it’s important to log it all. And, don’t forget food you pick at without it even registering – slivers of cheese while making dinner, leftover chips from the kid’s dinner plates – I‘m sure you’re getting the picture! Recording what you eat makes you much more mindful (and selective) about what passes your lips – which is why keeping a diary works. Download the Nutracheck App today and track what you eat – it takes less than 10 minutes a day.

    • 3. Being too vague When keeping a food diary, you should ideally add the exact brand of food you ate. Here’s an example to show why. Say you ate a slice of Lidl Rowan Hill Bakery Seeded Wholemeal Farmhouse Loaf, but just used the calorie count for an unbranded ‘slice of wholemeal bread’, you would have under counted by 49 calories for just one slice. Multiply that by four slices – some toast at breakfast and a sandwich at lunch – and you’ve under counted by nearly 200 calories! Do that with several foods, and your calorie count won’t be as accurate as it could be. The Nutracheck App focuses on UK users, so the food database is all UK food brands and serving sizes. It doesn’t take any longer to enter the brand name when you search or scan a barcode – there are over 250,000 products in the database, so you should find the exact item. Find your brand of choice in the Nutracheck UK food database.

    • 4. Wasting calories It’s easy to only focus on calorie content but the type of food you eat is just as important. Yes, a calorie is a calorie – whether it comes from broccoli or piece of chocolate, it provides the same amount of energy – but some foods provide more nutrients than others, which affects how your body uses the energy. A diet rich in natural foods is the way forward – plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean protein, pulses, calcium rich dairy foods and good fats from nuts and oily fish. Eating these foods will provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy, as well as keeping you feeling full and satisfied. While a piece of chocolate cake and a granary bread sandwich might have the same number of calories – the sandwich will certainly keep you going longer! Download the Nutracheck App today and track six nutrients as well as calories.

    • 5. Failing to plan The saying is ‘failing to plan is planning to fail!’. A top tip for success is to know what you’re going to eat in advance – that way you’ll know if you have any calories left to play with for an evening treat. It’s much better to get to the end of the day with a few calories planned in for a treat than to use up your allowance, crave something sweet and end up over your calorie target. This approach goes hand in hand with completing your food diary in advance or as you go, rather than waiting until the end of the day and trying to remember what you ate. Recording retrospectively makes it more likely you’ll forget the biscuit you had with your afternoon cuppa. An analysis by the Office for National Statistics in 2018 showed 1/3 of people underestimate how many calories they are eating – with men eating around 3,000 calories per day but believing they eat 2,000 and women eating 2,500 calories per day, but thinking they eat 1,500. This overeat can lead to weight gain and health issues. Tracking calorie intake through the use of an app, helps show what your actually eating so you can see where to make some changes. Start a Nutracheck seven day free trial today.

  • 6. Slave to the scales It’s tempting to want to step on the scales every morning, but your weight can fluctuate a lot across a week, and if you find the result on the scales directly affects your mood and motivation for the day, it’s better to stick to a weekly weigh in. We advise weighing in on the same day, same time and same scales to get the most reliable result of how your weight loss is going and avoid temporary blips throwing you off course. But, don’t just rely on numbers – how your clothes fit is a really motivating measure. Choose an item of clothing you’d love to wear again and use that as a progress tracker. Download the Nutracheck App today and achieve your weight loss goal.
Meet the writer
Vicky Warrell
H&W deputy editor

As H&W's deputy editor, I'm lucky enough to cover everything from celebrities to skincare. At the weekend, I'm happiest when adding to my ever-expanding houseplant collection, swimming laps at my local lido, spending time with my family and... Discover more

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