The 10 most important mistakes most people make about diets

Dimitris Papadopoulos MD Fellow Of Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP)

Updated 18 June, 2011

Most people have followed a diet at least once in their life in their effort to lose their extra weight. Some of them have done well, others not well enough. Most people find it difficult to maintain the weight they have lost. There are many factors why this happens.
The most important mistakes made by people who are on a dietary program are the following:

  1. Many people wrongly believe that being on a diet means being deprived of taste and flavours. Various magazines and leaflets have made them consider that diet is synonymous to “monophagia” (eating only one kind of food). So, when people have a nutritional program containing food of their preference, they feel guilt and remorse because of consuming flavours that are (theoretically) forbidden. So, very often they force themselves to abstain from food they like, or rather eat food they do not like.
  2. They eat different food than usual creating a problem to themselves and the rest of the family. They believe that a diet should include only grilled or boiled food and that they must cook in a different way than the way they were used to. This affects various aspects in their life, such as their psychological condition, lack of time, even their budget. If it is a woman with a family, it is not easy for her to have to cook two and three different kinds of food during the day, especially if she works. If it is a man or woman living on their own, it is not easy to cook a different menu every day.
  3. They usually change their schedules during the period they are on a diet. They very often decide to change their daily program even if this is not convenient for them. They either take with them food from home (in the best of cases) or stay without eating anything until their next meal. As a result, they get both psychologically and physically exhausted. However, later on they return to their previous meal schedule that is convenient to them due to their work schedule and lifestyle and they go back again to the wrong nutritional habits of the past. Inevitably the lost weight gradually settles back again along with the psychological burden of guilt for having made such a fruitless and vain effort.
  4. They follow diets they find in magazines or take from friends who have already done them. In this way, they do not take into account their own daily needs which are different from person to person, as every diet should be individualized. They cannot arrange the timing of their meals properly, for the diet is not designed for them. As long as their nutritional habits or dislikes have not been taken into consideration, they are forced to eat foodstuff they do not like. As a consequence, when their obligatory deprivation period is over, they end up having bulimic attacks to make up for the food and flavours they were deprived of.
  5. They go on very strict diets in order to lose weight as fast as possible. They believe that by following a strict diet they will have a greater weight loss. Their strong desire to lose weight quickly does not allow them to recognize the potential negative effect on their health. They do not identify the risk of gaining back the weight they have lost and even twice as much –this actually being a very common phaenomenon.
  6. They get tired very easily, since they want to change their habits in one night, as if simply “using a magic stick”. It has to be understood that this extra weight was not gained in one day. Similarly, it is not possible to lose it in one night. It has to be accepted that, for a short period of time, a diet may not bring the expected desirable result. It may take time but it is worth it. They should not get disappointed when facing the first difficulty. Persistence and conscientious effort will lead them to their target.         .
  7. They lose their social cycle. Taking for granted that diet means deprivation, they quit from their social life, particularly when this is accompanied with lunch or dinner. Very often they feel awkard and uncomfortable when having to report and explain to others that they are on a diet and cannot eat what all the rest can eat. So, they prefer not to go out and they get confined to themselves.
  8. They compare their weight loss with others. We, dieticians, very often hear in our office the following question: “Why have I lost less weight than my neighbor within the same period of time?” Each one of us should accept our own pace of losing weight and not try to press a situation which might turn against us. We should not get disappointed.
  9. They eat less than what their diet requires. So impatient are they to lose weight, that they make the common mistake to eat less.  Here are some characteristic thoughts and phrases by people who are on a diet: “If I eat half the portion of what my diet says, I will lose the double weight”. “How will I lose weight when I eat more meals during the day than I did in the past?” “If I skip the snacks during the day, I will take fewer calories and so I will lose weight more easliy”. This shows the ignorance existing upon nutritional issues and the proper way to lose weight.

They do not follow a maintenance diet. The expected result of losing weight has come. At last, the target has been achieved! And now? You should realize that a very important part of your effort in losing weight, lies in the maintainance dietary program. This maintainance period will teach you how to eat properly the food you like, by adopting healthy and balanced nutritional habits. It will teach you how to learn to enjoy your