Things I Used to Believe

Dieting was. . .

  • A past time of mine
  •  A hobby
  •  A waste of money
  •  A source of frustration

Along my 10 year obesity journey, I tried many, many diets and experienced no long term success with any of them. Also during my journey I had a lot of preconceived ideas of what “good dieting” looked like. In thinking back I realized many of the things I thought about dieting where actually myths I had heard at one time or another, and deemed them to be true. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few dieting myths, and analyze how reality differed from the myth.

Diane’s Dieting Myth # 1:  Eating Very Few Calories A Day Is Best

Diane’s Reality: Whenever I tried to cut my calories too drastically, instead of losing weight and keeping it off, I lost a few pounds initially, but then quickly gave up and gained back the pounds lost plus a few more.

The Reason This Doesn’t Work: Eating too few calories can cause you to initially lose pounds, but it also causes a loss of lean muscle and tissue. This can reduce your BMR, and by doing so, will probably result in a weight gain once you stop that diet. Eating too few calories isn’t healthy, and should never be part of a lifestyle change. I guess the exception to this would be a medically supervised diet.

Diane’s Dieting Myth #2: Eating At Night Caused Me To Get Fat

Diane’s Reality: When I was obese, I ate all times of the day and night. I’d often use the fact that I had eaten after dinner time as a reason to quit trying to lose weight. I would tell John that “Eating at night was just a habit I couldn’t break.” In reality, it wasn’t having an after dinner snack that caused my problems. It was the fact that my after dinner snack contained enough calories to sustain me through the next 12 hours. The amount of food was the problem, not the time of day!

Why It Really Isn’t Important When You Eat: Over and over studies have shown that it’s not when you eat, but what you eat that makes us gain weight. Nighttime eaters tend to be eating out of boredom, habit, and the desire for high fat foods. For me, I ate because I was trying to fill some kind of emotional void.  Remember, that although the nutrient value in calories is important, the bottom line is a calorie is a calorie.

Diane’s Dieting Myth #3: Low-Fat or Fat-Free Foods would help me lose weight.

Diane’s Reality: Choosing reduced fat cookies didn’t do a thing for my waistline. Instead, once I saw the reduced fat logo on the label, it was as if I had permission to overindulge. After all – it was reduced fat!

Why This Is Wrong Too: Often times, when manufacturers reformulate their products to include a low-fat or reduced-fat version, they substitute sugar for fat. So the fat content goes down. The calorie content also goes lower, but doesn’t disappear. Here’s an example. Ritz crackers regular formulation has 80 calories for 5 crackers. Their low-fat recipe has 70 calories for 5 crackers. The fat content is reduced, but the calories aren’t  much different. If you were like me, you’d see the reduced fat sign, and eat 50 crackers. It happened to me more than I’d care to admit!

What’s the bottom line on these three dieting myths? They are just that. Myths. The reality is that the best way to make a long term change in your weight, is to get back to the basics.  For me that included daily exercise, diligent attention to portion control, and awareness of the fat percentage in the food I was eating. By letting go of the myths that were holding me back, I was finally able to make long term forward progress.

Care to share any dieting myths you’ve heard of lately? Or any dieting myths you used to believe?  I’d love to hear them.  Diane

23 thoughts on “Things I Used to Believe

  1. blackhuff says:

    Do you know how I struggle to make people understand Myth number 3? For some reason people just don’t believe the fact that “Low Fat” or “Fat Free” means more sugar or fat into the product itself. I started to believe this myth when I watched the movie: Food Inc. In this movie they also educate you of this fact.
    Myth number 2 is something I struggle to get my father in-law to understand. He just won’t quit his night time eating which usually consist of things that was left over from dinner or any other sweet stuff.
    Very true article you wrote here.

  2. Miz says:

    I used to believe it was only hard for me.
    That so many others eat crap all day and lolled about and looked fantastic and were LUCKY and HEALTHY.

  3. vickie says:

    would add to #2:
    for insulin resistant people, carb night time eating is a real problem. we have to watch not only our carbs, but when we eat them.

    good post

  4. Fran says:

    I believed all the myths you mention too but not anymore after reading a lot about it.

    The thing I got rid of last and that’s only recently too is buying low fat products or even non-sugar products. I eat the normal products again because they taste so much better. I just eat less of it but that’s no problem because the taste is better and I’m satisfied sooner.

  5. Dr. J says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Diane!

    Doing the math (calories consumed versus calories utilized) will determine what happens at the end of the day. Whether you lose or gain is all in that concrete formula!

  6. Desert Agave says:

    I used to think that one slip-up was the end — no more weight loss. Now I know that one slip-up simply means it is time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to work.

  7. Jody - Fit at 53 says:

    Diane, I am on board with all 3! I was a way to few calorie eater when I was younger.. NOT GOOD!

    Night eating.. I have my snack but like you said, it is more that people overeat at night. And yes, fat free does not mean calorie free or sugar free!!!

    As for myths, there are many. Like you, I use portion control & I am aware of my fat.. BUT, one thing I did learn is you can eat too little fat. I did that too when I was young. I started looking so much better & feeling better when I added back in some fat & obviously mostly the healthy fats. Trying to virtually no fat is not good for the bod!

  8. Sagan says:

    Great myths! I really admire how you lay everything out in such a PRACTICAL way.

    I used to believe that I didn’t have a waist, and it was simply the shape of my body. Then I succeeded in losing some weight (fat), and I realized that I had quite a nice waist, in fact! We CAN change our shapes.

  9. Karen says:

    For me, everything in moderation is a myth. There are just some foods I cannot moderate and they always lead to binging. But I know that not everyone is like this.

    Great post!

  10. The Chubby Girl Diaries says:

    Thank you for posting this! Myth #2 is something I am working on right now! Even though I know it is a myth… I know that I don’t need to eat at night.

    Dieting myth: Carbs are bad.

    Truth: High Fiber and whole grain carbs are not bad. Processed carbs high in sugar (i.e. white bread, white rice) is not as good for you.


  11. Cilla says:

    I love this post. I fell for the low fat myth in a different way. I remember growing up in the 80s and my Mum was forever on a diet. And the message I picked up from her dieting antics was that fat is evil and not allowed if you want to lose weight. It has taken me a while to embrace loving avocado and peanut butter, but I do a whole lot better with fat in my diet.

  12. Allison says:

    I’ve heard that red mean is bad for you. I know that too much isn’t healthy, but some cuts of chicken have just as much fat. It’s more about know your cuts of meat than whether its beef or chicken.

  13. Leah says:

    I used to think that eating healthy cost more money. Yes, certain types of food can cost more (i.e. organic), but when I trade in my processed foods for the fresh fruits and veggies I spend about the same.

    I think this is a big myth that stops many people from losing weight.

  14. Taryl says:

    I am on board with all your myths, they are so pervasive and destructive in our food culture!

    The one I think I got hoodwinked by was organic foods. In most cases, the higher price tag doesn’t justify the minimal differences in quality or nutritional value and I had to make peace with the fact that I’m not poisoning myself or my kids just because we buy farmed apples, normal ground beef at the butcher, and Costco milk!

  15. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    Re Myth #3 I have really come to believe that sugar is a much more insidious enemy than fat any day because, in the end, it does much more dangerous things to our bodies! A little bit a fat goes a long way…sugar on the other hand…well, you know.

  16. Tami says:

    Great post Diane. Having been a career dieter I have tried and believed what ever the latest diet trend has been over the years. I finally have found for me that eating the foods I love that are fresh and wholesome with a few indulgences now and then is what works for me. It really is about eating quality foods!

  17. jessey says:

    All good myths. thankfully #2 hasn’t been a problem for me except right after I started dating DH and we wouldn’t eat dinner until 10:00 (okay, I’d eat 2 dinners, one at and one at 10!) But I have definitely fallen victim to #3 – now I rarely by low-fat stuff. I buy the regular and eat a smaller portion – and it tastes so much better!

  18. Lori Lynn says:

    I’m “trying” to believe that I don’t have to have a “perfect” eating day. A blog that I was reading (who I can’t remember), said that your eating doesn’t have to be “perfect.” You just have to make sure you’re making good/smart choices.

  19. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    I believed many of your myths at one point or another…

    I think the most important myth for me to tackle was that I had to be “perfect.” I had to realize that there is a lot of “wiggle room” and that you can always make a new/better choice the next time you eat. One bad choice won’t undo all the hard work. It’s making a bad choice over and over and over again that’s a problem.

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