Diet sabotage, part 1: Domino foods

People are notoriously good at sabotaging their own diets. ‘Diets’ in this case referring to any planned eating pattern. In this series, I will go through a few pitfalls and mistakes when trying to adhere to diets, whether they be fat loss, muscle gain or health diets.


I’m starting off with domino foods since I am very prone to this particular pitfall. Domino foods are particularly problematic when trying to lose fat. The term ‘domino foods’ refers to those particular types of food that take off all the brakes and totally annihilate any level of moderation you had planned. It’s something that you can’t stop eating.

A common example: Potato chips. Who the hell eats one potato chip? You need at least a few of them. Maybe a handful of them. That won’t mess with your fat loss progress. But one hand leads to two, two hands lead to three, and so on. It’s usually not a particular type of food that directly messes with your diet, but the behavioral impact of that type of food that CAN mess
with your diet.


We’ve all been there. (From


Everyone has different domino foods. Strangely enough, I have this problem with peanut butter sandwiches. I have no trouble devouring half a loaf of bread with a truckload of peanut butter. I also have this with licorice candy. And winegums. And syrup waffles. And… You get the point. Others might have this with bonbons, salted peanuts or even with alcoholic drinks.

Some people -women are notorious for this, according to some coaches- will stick to a diet perfectly and then overcompensate on domino foods immensely. If you eat 300 calories less than you burn every day for 6 days, but overeat for 2000 calories on the 7th day, you’ll still gain weight. Sound extreme? It’s perfectly feasible for many people, my personal record is close to 4000 calories worth of overeating in one day and although that’s not the norm, I’m not an exception either.

The solution? Planning. There’s a bunch of ways:

  • My favourite method for the long term: Don’t start. Make sure you don’t have that food near you and just don’t do it. Saying no to the first bite is easier than saying no to the second bite.
  • Plan a binge. One night of overeating on whatever you want won’t kill you, especially if you use a few tricks like eating nothing but lean proteins and vegetables during the day as sort of a pre-compensation. However, this has to be done sparsely. Actually, be sceptical of this method altogether. Some people have a hard time getting back to their diet after binging, some people might get horrible bowel problems from stuff like this and spend the rest of the night on the toilet, some people WILL majorly overcompensate for quite a few days worth of fat loss, etc. Be mindful of this.
  • Find better domino foods. Although something like raw broccoli is a great way to fill your stomach with very few calories while taking in lots of extra minerals, fiber and vitamins… I’d recommend something like berries or something. It tastes great, is low calorie and is rich in minerals and vitamins.
  • Replace it with something just as tasty, without the domino effect. I have this weird obsession with rice custard (Or rice porridge or however you’d translate it.) which is high in calories and tastes incredible… Yet I find myself being able to stop easily after half a package. I have the same thing with (very) dark chocolate, which I love, but I rarely eat more than a few pieces. A psychological thing I guess, which goes to show once again that although the numbers decide in the end whether you lose fat or not, it’s the psychological part that decides whether you’re going to hit the right numbers to begin with. Keep in mind that this is highly individual and testing is really the only way to be sure what is or is not a domino food for you.
  • Replace it with a low-calorie version. I have calorie free peanut butter. Not as tasty as the real deal, but should I ever have cravings for peanut butter sandwiches and want to save my energy for other stuff (Remember: Willpower is limited), I’ll just have a fake peanut butter sandwich this way.

If you have any other tips on this, let me know in the comments.

“The worst thing about dieting is that you’re even hungrier after eating than you were before.” – Paul Carter