If you are dieting right now, you may be destroying your diet with 8 bad and unhealthy habits. There is no question that dieting to lose weight is arguably one of life’s toughest challenges. You know you’ll feel healthier and look better if you shed a few pounds but when you hit a plateau, it’s tempting to throw in the towel and pick up a sugary or salty treat to ease your pain. However, you may be sabotaging your progress without knowing it. Recognizing these unhealthy habits and changing them could help you reach your goals faster and maintain your ideal weight with a lot less stress.

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Food Is Not Your Friend

A bad day at work, an argument with a loved one, even a frustrating traffic jam can all ruin your day. Whatever rains on your parade, food won’t fix it. Before you reach for that pint of premium ice cream or tear open a bag of chips, take a step back and think about it. Break that comfort food habit!  Choose an alternate stress reliever like a long, relaxing shower or crank up the music and dance like no one’s watching. Your angst will subside without any caloric intake.

Moderation, please!

No question about it, dieting means you can’t eat everything you want. But it doesn’t mean you should punish yourself by eliminating all your favorites from your daily menu.  The key is moderation. Make moderation one of our new habits. Take one cookie from the jar, place it on a saucer, and seal the container. Sit down and savor that cookie. Place a small scoop of ice cream in a little ramekin and use the smallest spoon you have to enjoy every bite. Don’t ever eat from the carton because you might get carried away and polish off the whole thing before you realize it. Indulging in your favorites is healthy for your psyche and won’t ruin your weight loss plan if you stick to sensible eating most of the time.

Make Sleep a Habit

Crazy as it sounds, sleep deprivation can pack on extra pounds. According to Julie Upton, MS, RD and  Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, authors of The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions, inadequate sleep is connected to surplus weight because tired minds make bad choices, including deciding what and how much to eat. One study revealed that adults subjected to only 5 hours of sleep for 5 days consumed around 6 percent more in daily calories, and most of those calories came from nighttime snacks. Sleep requirements vary for everyone, but experts suggest most adults function best and should get in the habit of sleeping between 7 and 9 hours each night.

Pay Attention

Ideally, eating should be something you do with no distractions. Just like you’d never read a book while watching your favorite Netflix show, eating deserves your full attention. Make it a habit to make every meal special. Savor every course and slowly chew every bite. Concentrate on texture, taste, aroma. If you eat while playing a video game, texting or watching TV, you’re much more likely to consume food long after your appetite has actually been satisfied.

Avoid “Diet” Foods

Instead of stocking up on pricey fat-free, sugar-free, reduced-calorie foods and beverages before embarking on your diet, choose foods that are naturally free of those pound-packing ingredients. You’ll also be consuming fewer additives, chemicals and preservatives, which is better for your general health. Make it a habit to just eat “real” food.

Studies also indicate diet foods may deter weaning yourself off sweets, so stick with natural foods when possible.

Get Real

Self-delusion is a common human trait that sometimes helps us get through tough times. When dieting, however, it can be your worst enemy. First, set realistic goals. You are more likely to stick to it and eventually it will be come a habit.  You probably couldn’t gain 10 pounds in a week, so face the fact you can’t lose it that fast either. Snacking 24/7 is not the same as eating 4 or 5 small meals a day. Liquids often have the same amount or even more calories than solid foods.

Quit Beating Yourself Up

Once you find a diet plan that fits your lifestyle and budget, do your best to stick to it. Don’t set yourself up for failure by choosing a regimen that you know you can’t follow. If you fall off the wagon and eat yourself into a food stupor for whatever reason, remember you’re human and that you can always start over tomorrow, next week or next month. You haven’t lost your goals, they’ve just slipped out of sight for a moment.

Get Support

Remember that you’re not an island; support is crucial to most people’s weight loss success. Gently ask your friends and family to support your efforts by offering food and drink choices at social gatherings that you can consume without guilt. Find a buddy to walk or run with so you can talk and laugh while you exercise. If you don’t know anyone to share exercise time with, check out online weight loss support networks such as SparkPeople, Lose It!, and MyFitnessPal.

As you continue following a healthy lifestyle, remember to steer clear of these 8 bad and unhealthy habits to keep you on the right path. You can do it!