By Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

When it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes, there is no perfect path for everyone. It takes a bit of trial and error to truly find what works for you and your lifestyle. In my nutrition counseling sessions, I often find members frustrated with their lack of progress. Here are some of the most common mistakes I see people make when trying to eat healthier or lose weight.

5 Dieting Mistakes

1. Biting off more than they can chew

No matter how many changes you feel like you have to make in order to be a healthier eater, trying to change everything at once is never easy. Instead, focus on just one or two habits you can do, and do well, before moving on to the next. 

2. Starting a diet in the first place

It probably won't surprise you that most diets don't work. Strict regimens with very specific food rules and limitations are the exact opposite of finding healthy habits that work for you versus against you. Vow to ditch the yo-yo dieting this year and focus on long-lasting eating habits that help you be your best self.

3. Exaggerating physical activity

Being physically active has many, many benefits, but should not be used as type of magic calorie eraser. Too often, we exaggerate the energy our bodies use up when exercising and justify our activity to allow us to eat extra.

The truth is: one 20-minute mile of walking only burns about 100 calories. If you went out to eat and decided to upgrade from a single cheeseburger to a double cheeseburger…well, your walk does little to make up for that 240-calorie upgrade. Be realistic about how many calories you're taking in and burning off.

4. Eating too little

Sounds crazy, but it's true! Too often I come across clients who want to lose weight and find out that they are actually eating too little, affecting their body's metabolism so much that their body adjusts to surviving on very small amounts of fuel. A successful strategy for many is fueling their body every 3-4 hours with a meal or snack. Balanced meals will provide your body with the fuel and nutrition it needs.

5. Not practicing portion control

It is possible to have too much of a good thing, even healthy foods. Let's take almonds for example. Almonds are seen as a nutritious snack containing healthy fat, fiber, and protein. But when a seemingly harmless handful (¼ cup) turns into 4, you've racked up over 800 calories! Remember, quantity is key with nutrition.

Have you fallen for any of these mistakes? Tag us on Facebook and tell us how you overcame them.

Working toward a weight loss goal?

Stay accountable and inspired with the YMCA’s Weight Loss Program. This 12-week course offers weekly small-group discussion and tools to help you design a unique plan, track progress and set yourself on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Learn More.