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Avoid the obvious problems

Avoid the obvious problems
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Everyone knows that if you’re a drive-through regular and routinely polish off litres of ice cream you’re going to gain weight, but that’s not you. In fact, you rarely eat fried foods, and when you do eat dessert you limit yourself to a sensible portion. So why are your pants suddenly getting tighter?

The reasons why the kilos are piling on aren’t always quite as obvious as you might expect them to be. Here are some sneaky things you might not have considered that could be making you gain weight.

Whole grains cover your whole plate

Whole grains cover your whole plate
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Sure, they’re healthy – especially compared to refined grains. But you can have way too much of a good thing, explains registered dietitian and nutritionist Toby Amidor, author of The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook. Two cups of cooked whole-wheat pasta, for instance, adds up to 1670kJ. Try to limit yourself to a 1-cup serving (same goes for brown rice, quinoa, farro and barley) and round out your meal with plenty of veggies and some lean protein.

By the way, here’s how to get rid of your love handles without a lick of exercise.

You’re obsessed with avocado toast

You’re obsessed with avocado toast
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Again, it’s about the quantity, and it’s easy to overdo it. “Avocados contain a healthy dose of nutrients and heart-healthy unsaturated fat, but eating an entire avocado or using half an avocado daily for your avo toast can rack up hundreds of kilojoules rather quickly,” says Amidor. “An entire avocado contains 1347kJ and close to 30 grams of fat – that’s 45 per cent of the daily recommended amount of total fat!” About a fifth of an avocado is the right amount for a healthy snack.

Discover the best probiotics for weight loss.

You trust in the broken cookie rule

You trust in the broken cookie rule
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Wouldn’t it be nice if those cookie crumbs at the bottom of the bag and the fries you swiped from a friend’s plate didn’t contribute to your kilojoule count for the day? Sadly, those nibbles add up. “It’s easy to get 400 kilojoules – or more! – from little bites each day, which could cause you to gain roughly half a kilogram a month without realising where the extra kilojoues are coming from,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Tammy Lakatos Shames, co-founder of NutritionTwins.com. Try keeping a food diary for a few days and write down everything you put in your mouth; the tally might surprise you.

You eat straight from the bag

You eat straight from the bag
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You take just one small handful of chips… and then another, and maybe another. How much are you really eating in total? “It’s easy to go back for more and assume you just had a serving,” especially when eating out of a “family size” bag, says Lakatos Shames. (The bigger the bag, the more people tend to eat.) Next time, take a minute to grab a small bowl and measure out a reasonable portion first.

You go bananas for sweet smoothies

You go bananas for sweet smoothies
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“Juice-based drinks and smoothies often contribute a lot of kilojoules,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Ginger Hultin. “They can spike blood sugar quickly, which causes it to drop back down and makes you ‘crash’ once insulin responds. Once blood sugar is down again, the body starts craving more sugar – and that’s what fruit juice and fruit smoothies are, really.”

Here are 5 drinks to help you lose weight.

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You like to unwind with an adult beverage

You like to unwind with an adult beverage
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You probably know that margaritas, daiquiris and other kilojoule-laden mixed drinks can make you gain weight, “but even having low-kilojoule beer and wine can add up quickly and cause weight gain,” says Hultin. “Some people have a hard time with weight loss if they’re drinking much at all.”

When you need to unwind, here are 10 healthy alternatives to booze.

You’re nuts for nuts

You’re nuts for nuts
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Nuts have a healthy reputation, which is mostly deserved. “They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, protein and healthy fats,” says Hultin. The catch is that the serving size is probably much smaller than you realise. “For example, 14 shelled walnut halves and 24 shelled almonds equal one serving,” she notes. Be sure to count them out instead of eating by the handful.

You fail to plan

You fail to plan
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It’s 6pm. You’re hungry. What’s in your fridge? If the answer is nothing but ketchup packets and expired yogurt, it’s only a matter of minutes before you call for takeout. “It’s important to create an environment for success,” says registered dietitian Marisa Moore. “Stock the fridge and pantry with the foods you like that are healthy and keep you feeling full and satisfied.”

You’re so, so tired

You’re so, so tired
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“Not sleeping enough can certainly contribute to weight gain, because it can make you crave high carbohydrate/high fat comfort-type foods,” says Elisa Zied, CDN, author of Younger Next Week. While research has shown that sleep deprivation can mess with your hunger hormones throughout the day, you may be especially vulnerable late at night when you’re less active and trying to de-stress and unwind, she adds.

These 16 bedtime snacks will help you sleep better.

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Dear readers,
Please be advised that our shipment of the June issue of Reader’s Digest Asia in Hong Kong has been delayed by approximately seven days. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Kind regards, Reader’s Digest Editors