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