Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Help! I'm eating healthier foods, but I'm not losing weight.

Photo credit: catsper (Flickr)

First of all, if you're reading this because the post title hits close to home, then kudos to you!  I'm always excited to see people taking charge of their health by eating more nutritious foods.  Regardless of what the number on the scale says, this is one of the most amazing lifestyle changes you can make for yourself.  Your body thanks you for it, too!

I've definitely had clients ask why they're not losing weight even though they're eating healthier foods.  These individuals are often discouraged and frustrated, and I'm not surprised.  They've been working so hard to change their diet by eating more nutritious foods and, in many cases, increasing their physical activity.  However, the scale doesn't seem to be budging...or sometimes not as much as they'd hoped.  Based on my experience, one of the common reasons that individuals who are eating healthier and not losing weight is due to portion sizes or amounts.  

Years ago, I remember having a client who was vegetarian.  He was eating a wide variety of nutritious foods; however, he was frustrated because he was not losing weight.  We started reviewing his diet starting with breakfast. After he'd rattled off about 15 foods, I thought that he was done reporting what he typically eats in a full day. However, it turned out that the list was for breakfast alone.  The list included a variety of nutritious foods; however, there were a lot of them.  That was definitely a breakthrough finding for him.

Another client that I had was also eating more nutritious foods than he had in a long time; however, he wasn't seeing results on the scale.  Upon further investigation, I learned that he was eating at least 3-4 avocados a day.  While avocados are nutritious, they are much higher in calories than other fresh fruits.  The 3-4 avocados a day was the equivalent of about 966-1288 calories each day from avocados alone.  This was a real "Aha!" moment for him!

I have one last story to share.  I had a client who had lost weight, but then she hit a plateau.  As we explored her food intake, I learned that she was eating out several times a week, and we stumbled upon something interesting.  She had been ordering a dish that she believed to be more nutritious -- chicken and vegetables stir-fried in broth with brown rice.  That sounds pretty nutritious, right?  However, it turned out that the dish was around 1200 calories because of the portion size. What a revelation!

So, if you've been doing your best to eat more nutritious foods without seeing the payoff on the scale, it may be wise to take a closer look at your food intake to gain some insight.  You can do this by keeping a detailed record of your food intake for at least three days (two weekdays and one weekend day is a great place to start).  There are numerous websites online with diet analysis tools that you can use to analyze your own intake.  Some examples include MyPlate at or NutritionData at  Remember, the scale is not the ultimate judge of your success.  The fact that you are eating more nutritious foods is a wonderful accomplishment, and it's important to acknowledge that. Keep up your best efforts, and make it a nutritious day!   


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