Dr Dawn Harper August 02, 2017

You've cut your portion sizes, opted for low-fat options and waved good bye to your beloved weekend fry up. But despite working hard to cut out all things naughty, the weight is just not coming off.

There is no doubt that our metabolism changes as we age but that isn’t the whole story and it certainly doesn’t mean we have to accept an ever-increasing waistline as a normal part of ageing.

The problem is, sometimes our best intentions can work against us. In this article we aim to help you recognize those hidden diet saboteurs and learn how to avoid them.

Low-fat foods

Opting for low-fat foods might seem like a no brainer when it comes to watching your weight but the fact is, fat makes foods tasty. Numerous studies asking volunteers to do blind tastings on identical foods, which only differ in their fat content, have shown that we opt for higher fat content foods because they taste better.

When manufacturers remove fat from their products they need to find ways of making that food just as palatable and more often than not that means adding sugar. Try to get into the habit of checking food labels carefully before you buy.

Healthy snacks

Swapping unhealthy snacks for healthy options is a great way to look after yourself. Ditching crisps and biscuits for seeds, nuts and dried fruits is undoubtedly healthier and more nutrient rich, but, beware, some healthy snacks can be very high in calories.

Swapping snacks in this way is definitely better for you, but it doesn’t mean you can eat them in unlimited supply. Get to know the calorie content of your snacks and try to measure out a portion at any one sitting rather than dipping into a bag. By doing the latter you risk eating twice as much as you intended.

Smaller portions

There is no doubt that we in the western world have become used to bigger and bigger portions. Many advocate the downsizing of plates and glasses to encourage people to eat less at each meal, but you have to be realistic. If you over restrict yourself you will feel deprived and crave food. All too often people reduce their meal sizes dramatically and then compensate by reaching for more snacks between meals. The result of this is a greater total calorie intake.


If you are watching your weight and trying to eat healthily, the chances are you will leave the fry up or the bacon sandwich and err towards muesli, yoghurt and fruit. Though this sounds like a healthy option, we are back to sugar content again. Some cereals are high in sugar so keep an eye on those labels.

Breakfast is an important meal and missing it can mean you are more prone to reach for high calorie snacks later in the morning, so opt for something with a slow release of energy such as multigrain toast to see you through to lunch.


Human nature is such that as soon as you are denied something; chances are you will become fixated on that very thing. Banning yourself from something you really love is likely to result in failure but worse than that, when you do crack, you are much more likely to go overboard.

There is no such thing as a bad food, just bad diets. The important thing is that unhealthy treats should be just that – a treat and not a daily ritual. There is nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying a few squares of chocolate, but succumbing everyday will get you into trouble.


Alcohol and weight loss don’t go well together. Alcohol is laden with calories and of course a couple of drinks and your willpower is long gone. We all know that, which is why most people trying to lose weight know to watch their alcohol intake.

What’s perhaps not so obvious is the high calorie content of many soft or hot drinks and it’s all too easy to forget those when we are totting up our daily intake. Try swapping your daily coffee and or cup of regular tea to water or herbal tea.

If you’ve been battling with your weight but the scales and the waistbands simply aren’t giving you the rewards you want, take a look at these common pitfalls and maybe this could be the year you really crack it.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.



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