7 bad habits to break if you want to lose weight

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 28 Jan, 2021

We know there are many diet-derailing habits that can sabotage your best weight-loss efforts. See if any of these are trumping your best efforts – and learn how to get back on track.

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

This is a sure-fire ticket to a lifetime of yo-yo dieting – which is soul destroying. The key to breaking this exhausting cycle is to change the way you view food. Stop treating foods as 'good' or 'bad' – if you think you can't have something, you'll want it all the more. It's about how much you eat and how often. Tracking what you eat using an App is an easy and powerful way to show where you're going wrong – you'll see straight away which foods you should be eating less or more of. An App like Nutracheck lets you enjoy a bit of what you fancy, just track it within your calorie allowance.

2 Always trying to clear your plate

This is a hard one to break as many of us were brought up being told we needed to eat everything on our plate. No one likes wasting food, so a simple solution is to switch to a smaller plate. Or turn your dinner plate upside down and only use the flat base area...maybe not so practical with gravy, but you get the idea! Less plate space is a quick and easy way to cut calories.

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

Sure, it's important to eat regularly, but it's vital to distinguish between habitual eating and eating because you are genuinely hungry. Just because it's tea time, doesn't mean you have to eat then if you don't want to. Learning to listen and respond to what you body wants is a great first step to controlling your eating (and weight) in the long term.

Maria lost 13st182lbs83kg with the Nutracheck Calorie Counter App

Maria before and after

"Since losing this weight, my confidence has improved and I don't hesitate to go anywhere; before I was so afraid of being judged because of my size."

4 Guessing at portion sizes

When we surveyed people who had started to keep a food diary, we found that nearly a third really struggled with portion size. They were guessing at how much they were eating and couldn't understand why they were gaining weight whilst eating healthy foods. Simple: their servings were just way too big. So if you are serious about losing weight, it pays to weigh – just leave the kitchen scales out on the worktop.

5 Thinking calories in drinks don't count

Liquid calories don't feel like 'food': It's so easy to rack up your daily calorie count with just a coffee shop special, sugary fizzy pop, or the old classic – an alcoholic drink. Cutting calories in your drinks is an easy place to start. Switch to 1% milk in coffee or tea, replace sugar with Stevia (a natural sweetener), swap to sugar free drinks and cut down on alcohol and you'll soon see a drastic reduction. Tip! Download the Nutracheck App to check calories in coffee shop drinks and alcohol when you are out.

6 Eating straight out of the bag

Whether it's crisps, nuts, cereal or ice cream, if you're snacking directly from the pack (or tub), it's easy to eat several servings without realising it. Get a handle on runaway portions by checking the nutrition info on the packaging and measure out a serving – and if you want more, measure that too. Being conscious of what you're eating will help you meet your weight goals.

7 Letting a minor slip up completely derail you

So you ate 4 biscuits instead of the 2, and now you have a choice. Do you stop right there? Or carry on and finish the packet? "That's me!" we hear you shout. "I've blown it so I may as well give up". But think of it like this. Two extra biscuits is maybe 250 calories more than you planned. But if you eat the rest of the pack, that's maybe another 750! A small slip up won't stop you losing weight that week if you stop right there. But the extra 750 calories might – so start thinking 'damage limitation'.

And while we're on the subject, if you've had a bad day, don't wait until next Monday for a fresh start, draw a line and start tomorrow. The shorter you make the time between slipping up and getting back on track, the less damage done. Losing weight is a challenge for most people – the secret of the successful is that they don't stop trying.


Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), 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.