Let’s kick of Nutrition Month with common myths about dieting.
"Diet" is a 4 Letter Word when you are talking about Health...
The Top Five Myths about Dieting
Yet despite these discouraging statistics, a poll by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, found that almost two-thirds of Canadians have tried losing weight in the past five years. They reported trying a number of quick fix strategies:
•39% followed a diet that restricted certain foods or food groups
•31% used meal replacement bars or shakes
•23% used weight loss supplements or herbs
•21% tried fasting
It is discouraging that many people are still trying diets, likely with little success, despite the evidence they do not work. This could be because the myths about diets have become ingrained as truths that are difficult to dispel.
Myth #1: Diets work.
The Truth: Diets do not work.
Studies show that people who diet may end up losing weight, but over the long run, they regain the weight they lost and more. There is a reason for this. The human body has evolved to react to very low-calorie diets as a threat. To defend itself, the body goes into starvation mode and slows its metabolism. As a result, the body uses few calories. When the dieting stops, it is easier to gain weight because of this decrease in metabolism. In fact, dieters may never be able to eat as they did before because they will continue to burn fewer calories at their lower body weight. Therefore, continued dietary restriction may be necessary to maintain their lower weight. Furthermore, weight loss contributes to hormonal changes that affect hunger, appetite and metabolism. These changes can persist for up to a year after the weight loss and result in weight regain.
Myth #2: Hunger is your friend.
The Truth: Hunger is one of the reasons diets fail.
When you get overly hungry, you tend to eat more. It’s like shopping on an empty stomach, you buy more and are more likely to choose foods high in carbohydrate and fat that will give you more calories. What is important is that overeating is a normal response to hunger. It is estimated 49% of people binge when they stop a restrictive diet. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your hunger and eat enough to satisfy your hunger without going overboard.
Myth #3: Focus on one specific thing to lose weight.
The Truth: Weight loss and eating are complex. There is no single factor responsible for either weight gain or weight loss.
The key to successful weight management is to focus on the big picture. Weight gain and the obesity epidemic is the cumulative result of many factors. Therefore, to successfully manage your weight, you need to look at all of the factors involved:
•what and how much you eat
•how much you exercise
•how much stress you are under
•how much you sleep
Myth #4: Willpower is the key to losing weight.
The Truth: Willpower plays a very small role in weight loss.
If people lacked willpower, there would be no such thing as yo-yo dieting. Most dieters have tried several diets and have lost weight successfully only to regain it. They have the willpower to follow these extremely restrictive, uncomfortable diets, many of which may have adversely affected other aspects of their lives. So if not lack of willpower, then what is responsible for the obesity epidemic? To sum it up: change, specifically change in:
•availability of food
The world is a very different place today than it was before the obesity epidemic. The answer to controlling weight involves addressing these underlying issues and reframing the belief that diets are the answer.
Myth #5: Supplements are the answer.
The Truth: There are no scientifically proven weight loss supplements.
Every year there are a plethora of new supplements that advertise effortless weight loss, some without changing your diet, activity level or lifestyle. Although the idea is appealing, there are no such magic bullets. Ongoing research is trying to identify safe and effective weight loss drugs, but so far, none have been proven effective. Don’t be fooled by false promises!
The bottom line
There are many strategies that can help you lose weight that don’t involve dieting. Instead of making weight loss your goal, measure your success by the small lifestyle changes that improve your health and well-being:
•keep a food journal
•develop the skills to become an intuitive eater
•have a social support network to help you lead a healthier lifestyle
Ron Luciuk, Coach, Heavens Fitness Ltd.
This article was inspired by The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff, MD, 2014.