Dangerous Diet Traps to Avoid

Mouse_TrapTrying to lose weight?  Avoid these 5 common dieting mistakes.

Diet Trap #1: “Saving” calories for a party or event

If you under-eat throughout the day to save calories for an event, you will likely arrive very hungry which can lead to overeating.

Instead: On the day of the party, eat balanced meals so you arrive only mildly hungry. At the event, mindfully enjoy a balanced meal. When you have reached comfortable satiety, move on to other activities.

Diet Trap #2: Exercising off extra calories

If you overeat at a meal, don’t try to burn off the calories with extra exercise. Excess physical activity can lead to overtraining injuries, and make exercise feel like a form of punishment.

Instead: If you overeat at a meal, don’t sweat it! Get back to your normal routine, and trust that your body will naturally compensate for the extra calories over the next few days. Exercise regularly for health and enjoyment—not for calorie burning. If overeating occurs frequently, try to find the root cause of the problem. Are you getting enough food/sleep/relaxation?

Diet Trap #3: Eating only fat-free food

Fat is an important nutrient for good health. Eating meals with some fat makes the meal more palatable and satisfying. Fat-free desserts and condiments still contain calories and are usually not any healthier than their full-fat counterparts.

Instead: Include some healthy fats, like nuts and oils, in your diet. Enjoy full-fat versions of your favorite foods, if they taste better to you. Slow down and savor these foods, and you may find that you are satisfied with smaller portions.

Diet Trap #4: Avoiding carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body and brain’s preferred form of energy. Eat too few carbohydrates, and your body will begin to break down muscle protein to covert it into carbohydrate.

Instead: Include adequate carbohydrates in your diet. Choose mostly nutritious foods containing carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Some carbohydrates can come from “fun foods” like dessert and refined grains.

Diet Trap #5: Ignoring hunger

Hunger is your body’s request for fuel. Ignoring this signal will eventually backfire, and you will become ravenous.

Instead: Listen for your body’s hunger cues and honor them by eating a satisfying, balanced meal or snack.   This basic form of nourishment and self-care is more important than sticking to a prescribed calorie budget.

“Beet” the Day Smoothie

Mixing vegetables into a smoothie is a quick and easy way to get them into your diet. Nitrates in beetroot juice may enhance athletic performance. The nitrates reduce the amount of oxygen your muscles need, giving you more stamina.

Beet vegetable


If your blender isn’t powerful enough to cut through raw beets, roasting them is a great way to soften them and intensify their sweetness. To roast, scrub the beets and dice them into 1/2 inch chunks.  Scatter onto a baking pan and roast for 30 min at 400 degrees F.

“Beet” The Day Smoothie
Serves 1


1/4 cup beets, chopped
1 1/2 cups kale, chopped
1/4 cup diced carrots
1 cup frozen fruit
1 cup non-fat milk
1/4 cup greek yogurt


Put everything into blender. Blend and drink.

Nutritional Facts:

Calories: 300 | Total Fat: 2g | Carbohydrate: 60g | Fiber: 9g | Protein: 15g

Kale and Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken

This elegant dish is surprisingly simple to make.

Kale and Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Serves 2



1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme or seasoning of your choice
1 oz light cream cheese
2, 6-oz chicken breasts
2 cups kale cut into strips
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook garlic and onion over medium-high heat until the onions look glassy. Add the thyme, kale, salt and pepper.

While that is cooking, butterfly the chicken breast and set aside*. Once the kale is tender and dark green, transfer the ingredients to a bowl and mix in the cream cheese.

Place half of the mixture in each breast and roll it up like a burrito. Place the chicken on an oiled baking sheet with the seam side down to prevent it from unrolling while its baking. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 30 minutes.

*Butterflying meat is a technique used to thin out and enlarge the surface area of meat. Simply lay the chicken breast on the cutting board and with the knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the chicken in half horizontally.IMG_0084


Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 320 | Total Fat: 9g | Carbohydrate: 15g | Fiber: 2g | Protein: 41g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Beef and Tofu Pad Thai

This lighter version of the classic Thai favorite was inspired by the recipe in Cooking Light: The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook by Janet Helm, RD.  I love the beef/tofu combo in this recipe, but you can substitute chicken, shrimp or any other protein you prefer.  Fish sauce can be found in the ethnic isle of your local grocery store.

Beef and Tofu Pad Thai
Serves 5

12 oz uncooked flat rice noodles
1 lb extra firm tofu
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion
1 lb lean beef strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
Juice from 2 limes
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.
  2.  Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes. Squeeze with a paper towel to remove excess water.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, beef strips, tofu and garlic until beef is cooked through.
  4. Mix sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce and Sriracha in a bowl.
  5. Add sauce mixture, rice noodles and basil to the sauté pan. Stir to combine.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 710 | Total Fat: 27g | Carbohydrate: 79g | Fiber: 5g | Protein: 42g




With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Vegetable Stir Fry

These vegetables have an Asian flair and pair nicely with Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon and brown rice.

Vegetable Stir Fry
Serves 2


1 large onion sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 cups zuchinni, chopped
Handful of green beans, ends chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce


Sauté the garlic and onion in a bit of oil over medium-high heat until onions are translucent. Add the bell pepper, zuchinni, and green beans, and soy sauce. Cook until the green beans are tender.


Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 100 | Total Fat: 1g | Carbohydrate: 20g | Fiber: 5g | Protein: 5g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice per week.  Salmon is an especially good source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and promote heart health.  Try this delicious Asian-inspired recipe.  Your heart will thank you!

Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon
Serves 1



5 oz. salmon
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger


Place all ingredients in a ziplock bag and shake to combine. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Heat an oiled pan on the stove over medium-high. Cook fish for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.  IMG_0074

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 290 | Total Fat: 8g | Carbohydrate: 21g | Fiber: 0g | Protein: 33g

With assistance from nutrition intern Stephanie Leung.

Intuitive Eating

Do you spend a lot of time and effort counting calories? Do you label food as being “good” or “bad?”  Is concern about your diet causing you more harm than good?  Consider ‘intuitive eating’ to develop a more peaceful relationship with food.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is an approach to eating that relies on inner wisdom to guide food choices, rather than external cues (1).  The approach was developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the 1990s.  Those who follow a practice of intuitive eating:

  • Eat when they feel hunger and stop eating when they feel full.
  • Make food choices based on both health and enjoyment.
  • Trust, respect and nourish their bodies.
  • Reject the “diet” mentality.

What are the advantages of eating intuitively?

Research indicates that intuitive eaters:

  • Are less likely to be overweight or underweight.
  • Are less likely to suffer from eating disorders.
  • Have better self-esteem.
  • Are happier overall.

One recent study compared a traditional weight loss program to an intuitive eating program (2).  People in the intuitive eating program improved their cholesterol levels, boosted their self-esteem and increased their body satisfaction.  Participants in the traditional weight loss program experienced no such benefits.

How do I start?

Try these tips to start eating intuitively.

  1. Stop the “diet” mentality.  Recognize that quick-fix diets usually fail. Resolve to making a lasting lifestyle change instead.
  2. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness signals.  Make a plan to eat when you are hungry, and stop when you feel comfortably full.  Jotting your feelings down in a journal or notebook might be helpful to you to understand what “hungry” and “full” feel like for you. Keep your energy levels up with regular healthy meals and small snacks.
  3. Stop labeling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’  Labeling foods can make you feel guilty, and “restricted” foods often feel very tempting.   The truth is, any food in moderation can be part of a healthy eating plan.  Choose foods that honor both your health and taste preferences.  Take a sensible approach and choose a diet that contains a variety of different foods from all of the food groups.
  4. Enjoy eating.  It’s okay to relax and enjoy the experience of eating.  When you eat mindfully and savor every bite, you may find that you are satisfied with less.
  5. Learn to soothe yourself without food.  Anxiety, loneliness, boredom and anger are emotions we all experience.  For some, food may provide comfort in the short-term, but eating will never solve an underlying problem or worry.  Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract and resolve your issues without using food.
  6. Respect your body.  When you stop to think about it, you will see that the human body is amazing, and it’s the only one you will have for the rest of your life.   It’s important to understand that bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes.  Instead of judging and criticizing, try truly caring for your body with respect. The results may surprise you.


Book: Intuitive Eating, 3rd edition by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

Website: IntuitiveEating.com


  1. Schaefer JT, Magnuson AB. A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 May;114(5):734-60.
  2. Bacon L, Stern JS, Van Loan MD, Keim NL. Size acceptance and intuitive eating improve health for obese, female chronic dieters. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Jun;105(6):929-36.