A pinch here and a “sure, that looks right” there will set you back on your weight loss journey. If the idea of cooking on your own is intimidating, don’t fret. Just avoid these six common cooking mistakes and you’ll save yourself from falling off track.
Here are six common cooking mistakes that cause weight gain:
1. You’re Guesstimating Portions
Do you measure how much oil you put into your skillet? Or, do you just turn the bottle over and add a splash or two? If the latter, you’re probably consuming two to three times the recommended value (one tablespoon olive oil equals one serving), which means you’re adding fat and calories to your meal before you even start cooking. Now what about the rest of your ingredients? Are you measuring everything? If not, you’re likely eating more than one ounce of cheese or three ounces of fresh salmon. Why does that matter? This common cooking mistakes will take much longer to see the weight loss results you expect—if at all.
2. You’re Not Trimming Your Meats
Yes, chicken skin is fat. Yes, the white marbling inside and along the edge on your steak is fat. Most butchers do a good job of trimming most meats before they hit the shelf, but it’s important that you remove any extra because the fat on meat is 100% saturated—the kind that has been shown to raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
3. You Snack While You Eat
Do you know what Julia Child did as she cooked? She constantly tasted her food. There’s no way to know if you’ve under-salted or over-seasoned a dish unless you taste it, she always said. While good advice, be careful of how much tasting you’re doing. If you eat half the chicken soup before you “have dinner,” you have to count that. Similarly, if you sample a little cheese before adding it to your Sundried Tomato Tartlets, your snack has to be tallied in your total quarter cup serving.
4. You’re Using Sugary Condiments
Sure, meatloaf loves ketchup. And chicken loves barbecue sauce. But just one tablespoon of ketchup contains four grams of sugar—almost as much as you’ll find in one of America’s favorite cookies (chocolate chip). Pickle relish contains about the same amount, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Barbecue sauce contains even more—six grams of sugar per tablespoon, according to the USDA’s nutrient database. While they may make food taste great, these condiments are hidden sources of sugar in your diet and they can add up fast. Not all condiments are sugar bombs. Hot sauce, mustard, vinegar, salsa and citrus juices are low in calories and sugar, yet they add tremendous flavor to foods. And if you’re a ketchup lover, one tablespoon of reduced sugar ketchup counts as just one Extra on your South Beach meal plan.
5. You’re Using Mom’s Recipes
Sometimes we put blinders on when it comes to our favorite recipes which leads to cooking mistakes. You don’t think about how many carbs, calories and grams of sugar are going into a dish if we’re really in the mood for some home-cooked comfort. So how can we still make and enjoy the foods we know and love? Seek out alternatives wherever possible. If you’re making chicken noodle soup, replace the egg noodles with rice or soba noodles. If you’re craving spaghetti and meatballs, cook spaghetti squash or whole wheat pasta with meatballs. If you want chocolate pie, have a chocolate protein shake with or without a spoonful of peanut butter. If you can’t get a special dish or dessert out of your mind, however, make it and enjoy a small piece. You’re much more likely to stay true to your goals if you allow yourself occasional indulgences.
6. You’re Heavy on the Salt
The American Salt Institute reported that sodium intake increased more than 50 percent from the mid 1980s to late 1990s. Similarly, between 1977 and 2001, energy intake from sweetened beverages increased on average 135 percent in the U.S., according to ScienceDaily. What’s the correlation? The more salt you eat, the thirstier you are and the more weight you gain as a result of drinking sugar and calories. Besides a greater risk of obesity, salt-heavy diets can cause high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Too much salt can also lead to heart failure. Finally, there’s evidence that an overabundance of salt can damage the kidneys and bones as well, according to Harvard Health.