Simple Solutions To Diet Malfunctions

hungry man trying to get a handful of chips

( — Unfortunately, diets rarely work all the time and there are quite a few situations where people find themselves repetitively falling off and them jumping back on that healthy eating wagon.

Want to stop the cycle of failure? Here are some easy-to-make mistakes that the experts say are blocking your success…as well as some ways to jump over those hurdles.

“I’m always hungry!”

Are you eating enough? A daily diet of under 1,400 calories won’t supply enough nutrients to keep you full and fueled, and may lead you to quit.

So…who says dieting is all about having less? Here are three things to enjoy more of:

1. Calories. Up them to 1,600 a day if you’re trying to lose; 2,000 if you’re maintaining.

2. Meals. Have three daily meals, plus two snacks, says Susan Bowerman, R.D., of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Eating every four hours keeps blood sugar steady, preventing cravings and crankiness.

3. Lean protein. It sends stronger “I’m full” signals to your brain than carbs or fat do. Aim for 20 grams in meals (half a skinless chicken breast has 27 g), 10 g in snacks (a cup of edamame packs 17 g).

“Why isn’t the number on the scale moving?”

Plateaus are common after you’ve been steadily losing weight for six months, the National Institutes of Health reports. When you’re lighter, your body needs fewer calories, so what used to make you shrink is now what you need to maintain your size.

So…trim about 200 calories more a day, Bowerman says. If you don’t start losing again within two weeks or so, your calorie counts or portions may be off. Keep a food diary for a week to catch errors. If you’re eyeballing portions, measure your food instead (2 tablespoons of peanut butter can easily grow to 3). You might also step up your exercise efforts to help hit the lower-calorie goal, and definitely switch up your workout: If you do the same one every time, your body won’t build as much fat-burning muscle, says Gina Harney, a personal trainer in Tucson, Arizona.

“I’m busy, so I tend to eat out a lot.”

Restaurant meals can be ultra-calorific, especially because no one monitors whether or not chefs are doling out heavy-handed portions. In fact, calorie counts can be up to 18 percent greater than what’s posted, a Tufts University study shows.

So…make a reservation to save yourself a wait at the bar and the added calories from cocktails, says Tina Marinaccio, R.D., of Morris Plains, New Jersey. Alcohol revs appetite, so stick to one drink and sip it with dinner. Order grilled over fried (entrees) and steamed over sauteed (veggies); if you truly crave something decadent for dessert, share it with a friend, or have half of it packaged up to go.

“My weekend willpower is non-existent.”

You may be depriving yourself too much during the week, making you more likely to go a little crazy Saturday and Sunday, Marinaccio says.

So…factor approximately 1,400 fun calories a week into your diet, and spend 150 to 250 of them a day on treats you’d otherwise miss most (a 5-ounce glass of wine, ¾ cup of ice cream). That way, you won’t be as tempted to scarf them all down come Friday. You can bank two or three days’ worth of fun calories for a splurgeworthy event—but not more than that. And schedule a workout for the morning after: That third cocktail won’t look quite so tempting if you have a 9 a.m. kickboxing class to make it to.