You’ve been following your meal plans, you’ve been exercising consistently, and you’ve been getting enough rest, but for some reason – you’re not seeing any progress. What gives? Well, the answer might be your cooking habits.
Just because you’re cooking at home (which is awesome!) doesn’t mean that it’s always healthier for you. Sometimes we get a little relaxed when we cook at home and don’t really adhere to making the healthiest choices. And even worse? Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it!
An extra dash here or a few extra teaspoons there doesn’t seem like it could make a difference – but it really can. Tiny things can add up much more quickly than you think.
Here are six cooking habits that might secretly be holding you back from your diet or nutrition goals.
6 Cooking Habits That May Be Sabotaging Your Diet
#1 Not measuring ingredients
You’ve made the dish a thousand times, you know how much of each ingredient goes into it, right? Well, maybe, but you shouldn’t rely on just eyeballing it. Make it a point to always measure your food. By accidentally overestimating ingredients (especially things like oil, rice, or meat,) you could be tacking on hundreds of calories to your meal without even realizing it.
#2 A little too much “tasting” along the way
While a chef should always taste test their food, the key is keeping it to a “taste” and not four, five, or six spoonfuls that can turn a taste into an extra little meal. Also, when working with ingredients like nuts or cheese, be sure to refrain from treating them like snacks. You also don’t want to cook when you’re totally starving as you will be much more likely to snack before your meal is even finished cooking. So, keep yourself nourished with balanced meals throughout the day, and don’t wait until you’re totally famished to start cooking.
#3 Cooking way too much
Cooking for just one or two people can be difficult, so when a recipe yields 10 servings, that’s quite a bit of extra food. This could lead to eating larger portions than you should or being tempted to reach for seconds. Do some research online and find recipes that are catered to smaller servings or portions. If you have to make a larger dish, look for recipes that allow you to freeze any extra servings.
#4 Being a little heavy-handed with the oil
Here’s an ingredient that is most definitely a major culprit for diet sabotage. Oil has, on average, around 120 calories per tablespoon. Yikes! So, be sure to always measure your oils. It’s also important to remember that if you’re using a non-stick pan, you really won’t need much oil at all.
#5 Not paying attention to serving sizes
You could have the healthiest meal in the world, but if you’re accidentally eating two servings in a sitting instead of one, those calories could be racking up. If you have a recipe that lists out the serving size, break out the measuring cup to be sure you’re not over- or underestimating. If you’re not sure, here are some portion guidelines you can follow.
#6 Keeping recipes “as is”
You might think this cooking habit is a bit strange considering we’ve been stressing the importance of measuring your food, but sometimes, following recipes to a ‘T’ isn’t the best idea. A seemingly-healthy recipe might have some ingredients that could be replaced with even healthier choices or just smaller portions. For example, the dish might call for three tablespoons of olive oil but would one still work? If the recipe calls for full cream, could you use unsweetened coconut cream instead? Give your recipes a quick read/think-through beforehand to see if you could make them a bit healthier with healthy food swaps.
The Bottom Line
Don’t panic if you’re guilty of one (or three) of these cooking habits. Now that you’re aware make some small adjustments, and you’ll be back on track in no time. Plus, even just implementing one or two of these tips will do wonders for your overall health. Remember that healthy eating is never an all or nothing approach. Small and steady wins the race, so start with changes you know you can implement right now, and add the others in as you go. Before you know it, you will be a pro at whipping up healthy meals, saving yourself tons of added calories all without having to put much thought into it at all.