6 Ways Your Dinner Is Making You Fat

Large dinner plates, too much oil and other ways your dinner is ruining your weight loss.

1 / 7

Making healthy eating choices throughout the day, but still gaining weight? Your dinner may be to blame. Common evening meal mistakes can quickly sabotage your dieting efforts, and even cause you to pack on some extra pounds.

An evening meal won't cause weight gain. In fact, we should be consuming enough healthy foods throughout the day (and night). However eating too much or making unhealthy choices can add more calories than you might think. Breaking these dinnertime habits can help halt the weight gain and may even slim you down.

Medically reviewed in June 2018.

You Make Dinner The Largest Meal

2 / 7 You Make Dinner The Largest Meal

Consuming too few calories during the day may lead to overeating at night. Instead of gearing up for a dinner of epic proportion, opt for a larger breakfast or lunch. This should keep you from overdoing it at the dinner table.

When you do sit down for supper, it's important to practice portion control—even when you're choosing healthy foods. A healthy serving of lean protein, like grilled chicken breast, is about 3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards. This portion contains about 140 calories, and eating much more can quickly tack on unnecessary calories. Add some volume (and nutrients) to your plate by loading on some low-calorie, leafy greens, like spinach, kale or arugula.

You Cook With Too Much Oil

3 / 7 You Cook With Too Much Oil

Vegetables are vital to any healthy diet, but adding too much oil can quickly turn these low-calorie bites into diet destroyers. Monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, can help lower blood cholesterol and protect your heart from disease, but they also add calories to your meal. Per tablespoon, olive oil contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Instead of drowning your veggies in high-calorie oil, use just a drop and sprinkle on seasonings like black pepper, oregano and garlic, or skip the oil altogether and use low-sodium chicken stock.

You Eat Too Late

4 / 7 You Eat Too Late

The timing of your snacks and meals may not cause weight gain, but what you choose to eat might. When nighttime hunger strikes, we often reach for what's convenient: options that can be high in calories and low in nutrients. Eating a majority of your daily calories late at night may contribute ever-increasing obesity rates in the United States, research suggest.

To help make wholesome choice simple, prepare your meals ahead of time—the night before or earlier in the week. You can prepare between-meal snacks, too! A small snack, between 150 and 200 calories, can help sate late-night cravings without resorting to chips or ice cream. Prepare a combination of carbohydrates and protein, like veggie sticks and hummus or berries and plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.

You Eat Frozen Dinners

5 / 7 You Eat Frozen Dinners

Don’t let the small package fool you, frozen dinners are often loaded with more fat, sugar and sodium than home-cooked meals. And when your tiny TV dinner fails to fill you up, you'll likely go searching for something else to nosh, adding more calories to your day.

Beware the “diet-friendly” dinners, too. Many reduced-fat and -calorie meals contain excess sodium or sugar. A healthy homemade meal, like a combination of baked salmon and steamed broccoli, is always best, though there may be some better-for-you frozen dinners. Take special care to check the package ingredients.

You Make Poor Drink Choices

6 / 7 You Make Poor Drink Choices

Sometimes a glass of wine or sugary soft drink sounds like the best way to unwind after a stressful day, but you might want to reconsider your drink of choice. A five-ounce glass of wine contains about 100 calories, a 12-ounce glass of fruit juice contains about 170 calories and a 20-ounce bottle of soda can contain almost 230 calories.

The occasional cocktail or fountain soda won't cause the scale to spike, but drinking the extra calories every day can lead to a yearly weight gain of about 15 pounds. Cut the unnecessary calories by pouring a tall glass of water with lemon or sipping zero-calorie seltzer with your dinner.

You Eat Off A Large Plate

7 / 7 You Eat Off A Large Plate

The way you plate your food may help determine how many calories you consume. When we eat from a large dinner plate, we eat more, one study suggests. You may also think you’re eating less than you actually are. One chicken breast and a half cup of brown rice looks much bigger on a 9-inch plate than it does on a 12-inch plate. Trade in your large plate for a smaller one to trick your mind into craving less food.

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