5 Simple Mistakes That Ruin Diets

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Think you're fit? Are you the master of your diet destiny? Confident that you make mostly smart decisions about food? 

A new poll from Consumer Reports says that close to 90 percent of Americans claim to eat a healthy diet, but most of us may be giving ourselves more credit than we deserve.

Of those surveyed, only 15 percent actually counted calories and only 58 percent ate the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Roughly 30 percent who say they "carefully limit sugar" actually slurp up a sugar-sweetened drink most days. And 10 percent who say they "strictly limit their fat" had bacon or another fatty meat for breakfast.

This is sad and pathetic news, people. It's this very same delusional way of thinking that has our country pushing higher and higher obesity rates every year. Just as with alcoholism, drug addiction or any other chronic issue, admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it! 

Here, five ways we're tricking, gaming and cheating ourselves into believing we're healthier than we really are ...  

1. We tweak the numbers to suit our goal Even if a 3 ounce portion of chicken or 2 ounces of pasta is one serving, we figure just a little bit more won't hurt. After all, another smidge here or there won't really count, right? And calories consumed in the middle of the night don't count either. Rrrright. This little game we play with ourselves is an extension of keeping track of what you're eating "in your head." Clearly, there is a method to the madness of tracking your calories in a food journal.

2. We cut carbs, but make up for it by eating more ... bacon! If I could have a penny for every time this year I've already heard people say, "I'm giving up carbs!" It may have worked for Drew Carey, I guess, but giving something up does not make us any healthier. It just makes us feel deprived. Plus, we'll often convince ourselves that we "deserve" a new evil when we've given up the original bad guy. If you're not going to allow yourself that cookie, but you "make up for it" with say, CHEESE—sorry, you're not doing yourself any favors. 

3. We drink "diet" sodas, eat "diet" pudding, "low-fat" granola bars, etc. None of these are real food. In fact, they're Franken-food made with black box warning ingredients like the neurotoxin in diet soda phenylalanine or processed soy that may upset your body's delicate hormonal balance. Anyone serious about losing weight should steer clear of a product labeled "DIET." Just look at the first three letters of that word — says it all, I'm tellin' you!

4. We pick "easy-to-go," "natural" snacks over an apple. I know—fruit is just such a pain in the ass, right? We have to buy it at $2.49 a pound (well, if we want the organic ones that are supposedly free of nasty pesticides) and then eat it before it rots at the bottom of our fridges. And it's so boring! Instead, we'll just get some pre-packaged dried fruit snacks or applesauces or something. It's gotta be the same, cuz it says "all natural," right?... WRONG. Just. No. Stop. Please. 

5. Figuring we know it all, we remain blissfully ignorant. "I'll just eat a little less and take the stairs instead of the elevator." "The real evils are sugar and fat, like in doughnuts and pizza, but whole wheat bagels and pretzels are better choices." Myths and fairy tales. Obviously, we're not as informed as we like to think we are. (After all, watching a whole season of The Biggest Loser doesn't make any of us a certified nutritionist or personal trainer.) The good news is you can always tap the knowledge of someone who is one of those things ... via books, the all-mighty Internet, Twitter, whatever. It seems most of us could all stand to continually educate ourselves on better ways to keep our health on track.

Confession time — are you really as healthy as you think you are?

weight loss, obesity, healthy habits, eating healthy

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moder... modernmom2010

I love this article! I totally agree with everything you said. I was so confused when the Atkins Diet came out and people were allowed to eat so much bacon but no carbs. Maybe people lost weight, but I wonder how high their cholesterol got. They might be skinny, but definitely not healthy.


I just saw the documentary, Food, Inc. the other night and was so disgusted I vowed to change my eating habits to include all REAL food, not genetically modified bullshit and overprocessed corn.

jezsikaq jezsikaq

I am on weight watchers and I eat within my points, that includes all food groups, but I always choose vegetables or fruits over the sugary stuff because I would rather feel full than have a temporary craving gone. That is not to say I don't eat crap sometimes, but I limit it to once a week and not an all day thing, i eat healthy every other meal.

Saras... Sarasahmof3

We have been genetically alter our food since we learned that if we breed this cow to this cow we get this cow.  If you don't believe me look at dogs, some of them can no longer birth their own pups. I follow calories in must be equal or less than the calories going out. I play my XBOX Kinect(or what ever it is called) every day for 2+ hours, I am hoping to lose some weight. I mean I am really sweating and breathing hard. We will see.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Can I add one?  "Trying to lose 10 (or 20, or 50) lbs in a week, and doing everything all at once."  Can't tell you how many times I've fallen into this trap, and it smacks me every time.  Even when I say I'm not going to get "fired up" and do that, I still do.  Because who doesn't want to just lose the weight already?


Make one change at a time.  Give up soda. ONLY. Not all sugar. Just soda.  Maybe switch it with 100% fruit juice if you still need a sweet drink, but then wean yourself off of that, too. Remember, you're going for LONG-TERM results, not overnight miracles. Giving up one thing at a time is hard enough.


And when you mess up, and you will, don't beat yourself up. You didn't put on that weight overnight, it's not going to come off overnight.


(and if you're giving up the soda, like I am? Keep remembering what a friend said to me: "How can you drink that crap? Did you ever read the ingredients? Windex is healthier!"  Hmmm... I was drinking blue Mt. Dew at the time.  It even LOOKED like Windex.  I don't drink that anymore.  Yay me.

clean... cleanaturalady

I have illusions, or should I say delusions that I eat a perfectly healthy diet. 

lkm091 lkm091

I agree with your article 100% and even fall into some of the categories, but how about you ADD the healthy alternatives to your writing instead of just bashing what everyone is doing - and thinks they're doing a good job at?  Maybe I'd like to know why applesauce is such a horrible thing to eat instead of a tootsie roll?? Or how all-natural diary products are no better for you than pasta..... just sayin'

maine... mainemusicmaker

Hah! Not even close to where I'd WANT to be.....I admit it.

sodapple sodapple

at this moment i'm not doing any of those lol. probably i should start.

frysh... fryshannon34

I am not healthy by a long shot

KTMOM KTMOM

I don't pretend that I am perfect. I do eat pretty healthy,  but I have my vices, jsut like everyone.

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