7 bad habits to break if you want to lose weight

Emma Brown | 30 Sep, 2018

1 Treating a diet as something you go on and come off

This is a ticket to a lifetime of yo-yo dieting – who wants that? It's exhausting. So you need to change the way you view food – and that's where Nutracheck comes in. No particular food is 'good' or 'bad' – it's just about how much you eat and how often, something you learn by keeping a food diary. So take your 'bad' foods off their pedestal – as long as they stay there you are making them desirable. Nutracheck is about learning that you can have what you fancy, but use your diary and eat in moderation.

2 Feeling you should always clear your plate

This is a hard one, as many of us were brought up being told we couldn't leave the table until we'd eaten everything on our plate. No one likes wasting food, so the key is to get a smaller plate. Why not try this tip we heard on TV recently – turn your dinner plate upside down and only use the flat base area. Maybe not so practical with gravy, but you get the idea! A smaller plate that's full is still as satisfying visually as a plate that's a third bigger – and it's an easy way to cut calories.

3 Eating just because it's a 'meal time'

While it is important to eat regularly and not allow yourself to become over hungry, it is also important to learn to distinguish between habitual eating and eating because you are genuinely hungry. Just because it is tea time, doesn't mean you have to eat at that precise time if you aren't hungry. Learning to listen to you body is a first step to controlling your eating (and weight) in the long term.

4 Guessing at portion sizes

We carried out a poll with people who started to keep a food diary and nearly a third discovered that their problem was portion size. They couldn't understand why they had gained weight when they were eating healthily – but the reason was their servings were just way too big. It is possible to have too much of a good thing! So if you are serious about losing weight, it pays to weigh – leave the kitchen scales out on the worktop. If you don't have any, invest in a set.

5 Thinking drinks don't count

Liquid calories don't feel like 'food', and yet it's so easy to rack up your daily calorie count with just a coffee shop special, or full sugar fizzy pop or the old classic – an alcoholic drink. When trying to cut calories, looking at your drinks is a good place to start. Switching to 1% milk in coffee or tea, replacing sugar with Stevia (a natural sweetener), swapping to diet drinks and cutting down on alcohol can add up and make a big reduction. And the best part is that you haven't even had to cut down on any food yet in your diet. Tip! Download the Nutracheck App and check calories in coffee shop drinks and alcohol when you are out.

6 Letting a small slip become an excuse to overindulge

So you ate 4 cookies instead of the 2 you intended, and now you have a choice. Do you stop right there, or carry on and finish the packet? Many of us will identify with this 'I've blown it so I may as well give up'. But think of it like this. Two extra cookies is maybe 250 calories more than you planned. But if you eat the rest of the pack, that's 750 calories more at least! A small slip up won't stop you losing weight that week if you stop right there. But the extra 750 calories might. Start thinking 'damage limitation'.

7 Allowing one bad day to write off the whole week

You've have a bad day, but rather than saying 'I'll start again next Monday', draw a line and start tomorrow. The shorter you can make the time between slipping up and getting back on track, the better. Accept that losing weight is a challenge for most people – the secret of the successful is that they don't stop trying. So put today out of mind, start afresh tomorrow.


Nutritionist Emma Brown, MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.