Skip to content

Eating Habits To Avoid if You Don't Want to Gain Weight, Say Experts

Don't let these unhealthy habits sabotage your weight loss efforts!
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Whether you're trying to lose weight or simply maintain it, one of the most important ways to keep the weight off is by adopting healthy eating habits into your lifestyle. Creating healthy habits is the key to success when it comes to staying healthy, but if you're not careful, it can be easy to adopt a few unhealthy eating habits that make you gain weight. Between poor nutrition advice on the Internet, as well as eating habits you may not even realize you have, it's important to face those eating habits and make some healthier changes in order to keep the weight off.

Here are a few eating habits to avoid weight gain recommended by myself and other registered dietitians to get you on the right foot. Then, be sure to read up on our list of 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.

Skipping meals

Woman pushing plate of pizza away to skip a meal

If you aren't a big breakfast person, you don't have to start your day with a huge meal. However, skipping meals regularly is associated with weight gain. Going hours between meals tends to spike hunger levels the next time you sit down to eat—making it that much harder to portion size! Work on adding in small meals or snacks if you are going longer than 4 to 5 hours between meals. You'll feel the difference!

Here are the Side Effects of Giving up Breakfast, According to Science.

Grazing habits


Do you identify as a grazer? While grazing appeals to those who are trying to nibble on low-calorie foods throughout the day, it can keep you reaching for more and never feeling quite satisfied. Those little snack breaks can add up. Instead of eating every couple of hours, try emphasizing balanced meals three times a day with a snack if you need one. Having designated meal times may help you feel less focused on food all day and more full and satisfied when you do sit down to eat.

Ashley Harpst explains that skimping on fat could have detrimental effects: "Fat promotes fullness and is fuel for low to moderate-intensity exercise. Eat healthy fats that are high in fiber like almonds and avocados."

Check out these healthy fat foods that won't make you fat!

Low-calorie diets

yogurt chia seeds fruit

While it is oh-so-tempting to start slashing calories when you decide to lose weight, being overzealous with cutting calories has negative implications too! Drastically cutting calories is unsustainable and a recipe for calling it quits after a short period of time. To find a sustainable approach, work on prioritizing healthy habits over calories alone. Consider one healthy habit or behavior you can implement this week. Over time, you will build a personalized arsenal of daily patterns that support your goal of healthy weight loss.

"People are too focused on the scale instead of the habits they need to reach the outcome," says Lainey Younkin, MS RD LDN. "When the scale goes up, they throw in the towel and say 'this isn't working.' But if they stop hyper-focusing on the scale and start hyper-focusing on their habits, they would see lasting change."

Get even more healthy eating tips straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter!

Distractions, distractions

man watching tv on couch holding popcorn bowl

Distracted eating is a definite way to mindlessly overeat. We live in the age of constant pings, so teaching yourself to eat mindfully will take some practice! To be present while eating, plate your food instead of eating out of a bag or container. Sit at the table with minimal distractions: turn the TV off, place your phone in another room, and eat with friends and family to keep yourself engaged and slow down while you eat.

If you are trying to learn mindfulness around food, you might be interested in the intuitive eating approach!

Eating all the carbs first

bread basket

This one may be a little counterintuitive. Carbs give us the fastest boost of energy… so naturally, we often reach for them first! However, people who choose a protein option for their first bite have been shown to consume less of the meal overall.

"One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, especially women, is skimping on protein," says Amanda Liptak, RD. "Foods like nuts, seeds, and cheese can be great protein 'adds' but are not a huge source of protein. Getting adequate protein at each sitting helps you feel satisfied, manages blood sugar, and builds lean muscle mass – so make it a focal point on your plate!"

Here are 15 Carbs Myths That Are Totally Bogus.

Drinking your calories

starbucks frappuccino on table with green straw

While that daily Starbucks habit is delicious, those empty calories really add up. Drinking your calories leaves you with a blood sugar spike and not much-lasting energy or fullness. Comb over the total liquid calories you take in throughout the week: coffee, sweet tea, soda, juice, and cocktails. Consider cutting back in just one of these areas to begin reducing empty calories!

Consider these 12 ways to slim down your Starbucks order.

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
Filed Under