Whether trying to lose some weight, tone up, or feel healthier overall, that picture-perfect diet is the key to success… right? Hold up: With the growth of various “health fads” — like liquid diets and all-you-can-eat cabbage soup — mixed messages about the best ways to stay healthy flood the airwaves. And some experts believe it's the message certain diets support that cause them to flop, because they focus on losing weight instead of adopting an overall healthier lifestyle . Here are some of the most common diet mishaps and how to help ditch them to turn any lifestyle into a healthy one!
Diet Downers — The Need-to-Know
Sneaky slipups are the biggest offenders at hindering an otherwise healthy diet. Here are eight to keep in mind when getting ready to chow down:
- Supersized portions. Sure, that plate of roasted vegetables is healthy — but too much of any food can put a damper on the diet. In the end, maintaining a healthy diet is usually about amount of calories consumed, so make sure to keep everything in moderation.
- Falling for labels. Don’t let packaging play the fool. Foods and drinks labeled fat- or sugar-free aren't always healthier choices. In some cases, fat and sugar substitutions may even cause weight gain — eek !
- Munching on dangerfoods. Watch out for those sneaky foods that may not be as healthy as they seem. Foods like peanut butter and granola can be a tasty treat, but are still high in calories and fat. Enjoy on occasion (and in moderation!) but don’t let them become a diet staple.
- Over-fueling post-workout. Secret’s out: Exercise may not lead to weight loss. The reason? Re-consuming all those calories burned in the form of post-workout snacks — plus more. Just remember, a sweaty bootcamp doesn’t always warrant a bacon cheeseburger dinner! Choose healthier options with a balance of carbs, fats, and protein to satisfy hunger without undoing all that hard work.
- Kicking back booze. No matter how clean the diet, knocking back too many vodka tonics is never healthy . So watch out for all those happy hours — empty calories (we're looking at you, cocktails!) can lead to weight gain!
- Lovin’ liquid calories. Aside from alcohol, the amount of calories in any beverage can add up . Talk about a scary sugar situation! Steer clear of soda, and other “healthy” beverages (Vitamin Water, anyone?) and start calling water "Best Friend Forever."
- Becoming too restrictive. Eating well doesn’t mean we can't indulge from time to time. Never allowing a little sweet treat could lead to late-night overeating, so don’t totally cut out those favorite not-so-healthy foods . (Hey, where'd that tub of Phish Food go?!)
- Eating too little. Skipping out on snack time won’t necessarily lead to weight loss . Low calorie consumption can actually slow metabolism — so make sure to fill up on just enough of the good stuff! Calculate how many calories your body needs, and consider consulting with a nutritionist for more specific guidelines.
I’m Healthy and I Know It… — Your Action Plan
With some tiny tweaks, a good-for-you diet can be even better. And while exercise can be key, make sure to eat enough to allow muscles to recover and grow — and not give in to over indulgence . (Sorry, one workout doesn’t always mean one bottle of post-workout wine!) Other tips to stay on track include drinking water, catching enough Zzz’s, and keeping stress levels under control  .
And when setting new goals, be accountable! Tell others about your diet endeavors, and keep an exercise and food journal to track progress and catch any blunders that could be sabotaging a healthy lifestyle. And remember, sometimes a bike for one at spin class can be just as therapeutic as a table for one at that favorite pizzeria.
What's your worst healthy diet pitfall? Join the conversation in the comments below!