Ten Surprising Dietary Habits That Can Lead to Weight Gain

If you are one of the many victims of misleading food labels or false advertising, this list might surprise you. Although certain foods might appear healthy on the outside, it is always best to take a second look. Get familiar with food labels and your daily nutritional needs, including fat, carb, sugar and sodium limits, to help avoid common pitfalls that most consumers encounter when making bad diet food choices.

Here is a list of the most common dietary mistakes when trying to eat healthier to lose weight.

1) Eating your turkey sandwich in a wrap. Wraps are made with a 12 inch tortillas which at first glance appear to be thin and thus low in carbs. On the contrary, the average 12 inch tortilla, whole wheat or not, can be over 300 calories and up to 60g carbs which is equivalent to eating 4 slices of sandwich bread.

Easy Fix: Do it yourself by buying low carb wraps that are under 100 calories each in the grocery store OR only eat 1/2 the wrap and pair it with a side salad or soup.

2) Swapping regular yogurt for flavored Greek Yogurt. Greek Yogurt is naturally much higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt. However, when you can only eat the flavored versions such as vanilla, peach or honey, you’re adding all that sugar back into your belly. The average flavored Greek Yogurt (Chobani or Fage) packs in as much as 20g of blood glucose spiking sugar per 1 six ounce serving. An 8 ounce can of coca-cola has the same amount.

Easy Fix: Buy it plain and add in natural flavors such as cinnamon, vanilla extract, fresh fruit or stevia/truvia OR look for lower sugar flavored brands such as Dannon Greek Light N Fit or Yoplait Greek yogurt which have under 10g of sugar.

3) Switching from soda to juice. Most people are aware of the harmful effects of drinking soda, however, not many realize that juice is not all that better. Ounce for ounce, juice and soda have almost the exact same amount of sugar: about 20-25g per 8 ounces.

Easy Fix: Get your vitamins and antioxidants from fresh oranges instead OR mix 1 part of OJ with 3 parts of water or club soda to dilute the amount of sugar it contains.

4) Buying multigrain bread instead of whole wheat. Don’t be fooled by the label multigrain as it does not necessarily mean WHOLE grain. In fact multigrain can be, and often is, still made up of various types of refined grains making it less superior to 100% whole wheat bread and very similar to eating white bread.

Easy Fix: If you prefer the taste of multigrain, always check the ingredient list of your multigrain bread products and look for 100% whole grain. It should be the first ingredient listed.

5) Having cereal in the morning instead of eggs. While egg yolks contain cholesterol-raising saturated fat, many seemingly healthy cereals, such as Kashi Go Lean Crisp or Kellogg Raisin Bran, are packed with carbohydrates, particularly sugar, which causes energy crashes later on in the day. Just 1 cup of Raisin Bran has almost 50g carb and 20g sugar. When you add that to a cup of milk and consider that only 1 cup of cereal is usually not enough to feel full, calorie intake soars.

Easy Fix: Keep your eggs and limit to 1 whole egg per day with 2-3 egg whites, veggies, avocado and 100% whole wheat toast for a more satisfying and balanced breakfast. Or stick to lower sugar cereals (<6g sugar per serving), such as Fiber One original, bran flakes or plain Cheerios, and eat it with naturally low sugar almond milk or protein-packed plain Greek Yogurt.

6) Skipping dinner. By the end of a long work day, ordering a pizza instead of cooking a healthy dinner is the most tempting idea in the world. But pizza, if eaten in large quantities, is not going to help you reach your weight loss goals, so why not just skip dinner all together, right? Unfortunately that trick won’t work as your hunger will come back and bite you in the butt a few hours later – usually after midnight.

Easy Fix: Dinner should be the smaller meal of your day anyway so keep some easy-to-make options readily available that you can whip up in no time. Staples include a carton of eggs, canned tuna in water, frozen lean turkey burgers, frozen steamed bag of veggies, 100% whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter.

7) Eating 6 small meals per day. Sure, eating that many times can help control your appetite and boost metabolism, but if 3 of your 6 “small” meals that day are from the vending machine, you’re doing more harm than good.

Easy Fix: Focus on eating every 4-5 hours instead, starting with a balanced breakfast within 1-2 hours of waking. This will help you keep your food choices more clean and balanced.

8) Using olive oil instead of butter. If the Mediterraneans eat tons of olive oil and live to they’re 100 years old then why can’t we! Truth be told, while olive oil is a much healthier fat than butter, it is exactly the SAME, if not MORE, calories and fat than butter. And since oil is liquid it can be much harder to control portions. Think twice before you drown your salad or dunk your bread in to this heart healthy stuff. 1 little teeny tiny Tablespoon has up to 135 calories and 15g fat.

Easy Fix: Pour your oils into a spray can, such as “Misto”, to help control portion sizes or make sure to measure out no more than 1-2 tsp per meal. You can also try Benecol or Smart Balance butter which looks like regular butter without all the harmful side effects.

9) Cutting out gluten. Gluten-free does not mean calorie-free, so unless you have an intolerance or Celiac Disease, cutting Gluten out of your diet is not the magical solution you’ve been waiting for. Those people who do have weight-loss success with gluten-free diets have likely stopped eating bagels for breakfast, 2 slices of pizza for lunch and 3 bowls of pasta for dinner.

Easy Fix: Pay attention to portion sizes and read food labels to track your carb intake instead of how much Gluten it contains. If you do experience digestion issues with Gluten go get an intolerance test BEFORE you eliminate it for the most accurate test results.

10) Strict avoidance of sugar. Restricting anything completely in your diet might backfire and increase your desire for that specific food. It is also impossible to cut sugar out of your diet completely because it is naturally found in fruits, vegetables and pretty much everything else you need to eat, except for oils and meats.

Easy Fix: A good rule of thumb is to avoid buying or consuming food products that have more than 6g sugar per serving. Keep your intake to less than 30-50g total per day to stay healthy and happy.

Nick VanMeter