Your ‘Healthy’ Diet Could Be Making You Fat — Here’s How

If you’re currently on a diet, you’re not alone. And if your diet method doesn’t seem to be working, you’re not alone in that, either. According to Boston Medical Center, around 45 million Americans go on a diet every year to shed a few pounds. But what if you notice the pounds start creeping on once you’ve committed to changing your ways? Maybe it’s a lack of understanding, or maybe you treat diet-friendly foods like they’re calorie-free.

Keep an eye out for these mistakes, then get yourself back on track.

1. You haven’t done proper research

Person making a diet plan

Thoroughly research your diet plan before committing. | iStock.com

Gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, and vegan lifestyles are just a small fraction of the fad diets people follow today. With fit athletes and celebrities as proponents, it’s no wonder people are so quick to jump aboard. But unless you really do your research about how to have a well-balanced diet while following these trends, chances are you won’t see the number on the scale go down. Just because you choose gluten-free or vegan foods doesn’t mean they’re free of unhealthy fats, sugar, and empty calories. If you’ve chosen to try a diet questionable ads claim “really works,” keep in mind there’s no such thing as a quick fix.

2. You cut out essential food groups

Loaf of wheat bread

Don’t cut out food groups completely. | iStock.com

Men’s Fitness says when you cut out major food groups, you increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies. Your body needs nutrients from fat, carbohydrates, and protein for proper function and energy. The proper nutrients will also help keep you full. Eat This, Not That! says simultaneously cutting carbohydrates and fat will likely leave you hungry since both are needed to stay satisfied. This can make you eat more just to satisfy your hunger, which can increase your caloric intake. Cutting out major food groups also isn’t sustainable in the long run, so you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

3. You’re being fooled by food labels

Gluten-free loaf of bread

Watch for buzzwords that make foods appear healthier than they are. | iStock.com/chameleonseye

Oftentimes, companies will market products with claims that allow them to appear healthier than they really are. But labels like “multigrain,” “lightly sweetened,” and other healthy-sounding buzzwords don’t necessarily mean the food is better for you. For example, Health says products labeled “fat-free” can actually contain a large amount of sugar. The article also mentions sugar-free foods can still contain sugar alcohols and just the same number of calories, if not more. Rather than just relying on what the front packaging claims, make sure you study the nutritional value and ingredient list before buying.

4. You’re too restrictive

Woman deciding what to eat

Don’t restrict yourself too much. | iStock.com

Food deprivation can backfire if you’re too restrictive. If you deprive yourself of certain foods, you might find you crave the food more than you would if it wasn’t off-limits. That’s because food restriction causes a psychological effect. This can prompt you to overeat other foods as a way to satisfy that craving. Better to allow yourself a small treat than fill yourself with other things that won’t satisfy you. Additionally, your metabolism may suffer if you’re not consuming enough calories each day.

5. You’re eating way too much

Plate of fries with gravy

Watch your portion size. | iStock.com

While you may be making better food choices, like swapping your favorite foods for healthier options, you won’t lose any weight if your portion sizes are too large. It’s important to be mindful of how much you’re eating, not just what you’re eating. Many of the intended portion sizes for various foods are significantly smaller than what we end up eating. WebMD says a serving of protein is supposed to be 3 ounces, but most people can easily scarf an 8-ounce steak.

And this goes for everything you eat. Even if you snack on carrots and hummus or choose dark chocolate over cake for dessert, you have to make sure you’re not overindulging. Calories are still calories, and everything adds up.