Why it’s so hard to lose weight

The UK is a nation of dieters, suggests research by marketing experts Mintel that shows almost two thirds of us are trying to lose weight most of the time. But despite all this dieting activity, more than half the UK population is currently overweight or obese. Why? Because losing weight isn’t easy and gaining weight is.

Five common weight-loss mistakes (and how to fix them)

If you’re trying to lose weight without much success, it could be down to one of the following reasons:

Mistake #1: you eat when you’re miserable   

Comfort eating is a common problem – after all, if you’re upset or stressed, the last thing you may want to eat is a healthy salad. 

Fix it: try substituting a bad comfort eating habit with a good one. Make a list of the things you can do instead of reaching for the nearest sugary snack, such as drinking a glass of water or doing some deep breathing exercises. 

Mistake #2: you don’t do enough exercise   

If you’re sticking to your diet but the weight still isn’t shifting, it could be because you’re not active enough. Exercise is important for losing weight because it helps you burn more calories than you eat and boosts your body’s ability to burn calories more effectively. 

Fix it: you don’t have to join a gym, just try to make exercise part of your daily life. This means simple things such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the shops instead of driving and going for a brisk walk during your lunch break. 

Mistake #3: you eat in secret   

The outside world may think you’re sticking to your diet, but when you’re on your own you can’t resist sweet treats and fool yourself that you’ll eat less the next day. 

Fix it: try to quash any feelings of guilt you have about certain foods, because once you start feeling guilty about them you’re more likely to crave them and sneak them. If your diet is otherwise healthy, remind yourself that it’s fine to have an occasional treat – just don’t banish any foods, as the moment you do you won’t be able to stop thinking about them. 

Mistake #4: you binge at weekends   

You may eat as healthily as possible during the week, but then the weekend comes along and all your good intentions go up in smoke. Perhaps you socialise more at weekends, which may mean you drink more and eat more. 

Fix it: plan healthy activities during the weekend, which may help encourage you to eat and drink less. Also try limiting yourself to one treat a day on Saturday and one on Sunday – a couple of drinks on Saturday night, for instance, and a fry-up for breakfast on Sunday morning. 

Mistake #5: your portions are too big   

If your diet is healthy it may still be hard to lose weight if you eat too much food. This can be a particular problem for women who tend to eat the same size meals as their male partners. 

Fix it: be strict with your portion sizes and you’ll soon reap the benefits in terms of pounds lost. Try buying some kitchen weighing scales and start checking the weight of everything you eat until you get a better feel for portion sizes.