If you’re diligent at the gym and still not seeing results, your kitchen habits may be to blame. And no, I don’t mean snacking while you cook—although that is definitely one to break—I mean those everyday mistakes you don’t even know you’re making.
Drown your vegetables in oil and season all your meals with salt? Guilty. Scroll down to find out the tiny habits having a huge impact on your weight loss goals.
1. Underestimating portion sizes
Getting the correct portions of food can be difficult. Often we are way too generous when serving meals at home. To avoid this, I recommend using measuring cups for grains, pasta and rice so you learn how big a portion should be and so you don’t accidentally cook too much.
Another portion control trick is sticking to serving sizes. For example, if the recipe makes four servings, then dish up four servings, even if you are only feeding two people. Putting the extras into the fridge means you are less likely to sneak them onto your plate and accidentally overeat. Dietitian, Susie Burrell, has some great portion control tricks that are surprisingly doable!
2. Adding the wrong oils
Portion control is really important for oil and butter too. Also, if you’re cooking with oil, you should be reaching for something with a high smoke point, such as peanut oil, sunflower or grapeseed oil. Heating an oil past its smoke point can cause it to break down. This means it may lose some health benefits, or the heat may cause some oils to produce free radicals or toxins.
3. Using fat and salt for flavour
One of the fastest ways to increase your calorie intake is relying on fat, salt or sugar to add flavour to an otherwise healthy meal. While I don’t believe in calorie counting, I do know that cooking with extra salt and fat may actually cause your brain to crave these additives again and again.
Try to use spices (these are great health-booting ones) and herbs for flavour instead. Rather than seasoning grilled chicken with salt, try adding thyme, oregano, garlic or even turmeric like this turmeric and yoghurt roasted chicken. Adding fresh herbs to dishes can give the meal an extra boost of antioxidants and vitamins too.
4. Choosing the wrong sauce
It’s pretty unlikely you’d add spoonfuls of sugar to a freshly grilled chicken breast, right? But adding a store-bought sauce can do just that! Marinades and sauces can sneak a lot of extra sugar onto your plate. It might go by a different name (like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup or molasses), but it’s usually there.
The problem with adding these sauces and marinades is that they have little nutritional value. Instead, your blood sugar may spike and then quickly crash, which may leave you feeling tired. Check the label before you add any sauce to a meal, or have a go at making your own sauce like this simple salad dressing…
5. Overloading on toppings
Be mindful of what you add to dishes at serving time or you could wind up overdoing it. Topping pasta dishes with extra cheese and sour cream is a highway to bad habits. The same goes for adding loads of cheese to your salad, or pouring sauce over everything.
If the temptation is too great, leave the condiments and toppings in the fridge. Choose fresh herbs or spinach as a garnish instead.
Making some of these mistakes can accidentally derail some of your best efforts to get fit, and you might end up feeling discouraged. Now that you’re aware of these risks, it’s easier to avoid them next time you’re in the kitchen.