Many of our decisions about the food we eat are made with our weight in mind. Whether you’re simply trying to eat nutritiously for better health, or you’re actively trying to lose weight, food choice and diet are often at the forefront of our minds. While there’s plenty of information in the media about fad diets and super foods, there’s a few myths that surround successful dieting.
"When it comes to successful weight management, everyone is different. We all have a different metabolism, family history and body shapes, so dieting is not a one size fits all approach," says Amcal senior pharmacist James Nevile. “We know that close to a third of Australians are worried about their weight and it’s becoming a major health concern, so it’s important to understand the basics when it comes to embarking on a new diet.
To help correct the most common dieting mistakes, and debunk some of the most common myths around dieting and weight loss, we spoke to Marika Day, accredited practicing dietitian & nutritionist.
Mistake: Focusing on what we can’t eat
Our mindset plays a huge role when making changes to our diet. Many of us approach dieting with a negative or restrictive mindset, which results in us strictly focusing on what foods we cannot have, should not have or must limit at all times. We think about how hard or challenging the process is going to be and almost start wishing it was over before it begins. I challenge you to start to focus on the positives, what delicious healthy foods can you eat? What benefits are you getting from making these healthy decisions? Focus on why you actually want to eat in this way, rather than focusing on why you should eat in this way.
Myth: The less we eat, the more weight we lose
In order to lose weight, we need our bodies to be calorie deficit. Put simply, this means when we are trying to lose weight the amount of calories we put into our body needs to be less than the amount we burn. So naturally we think the more we drop calories by eating less, then consequently the more weight we will lose. While logically this may make sense, when it comes to how our bodies work it just doesn’t naturally happen that way.
Sudden and dramatic drops in calorie intake may lead to increased hunger levels and cravings for sweets or carbohydrate rich food and with time, a reduction in our metabolic rate. All of which are not conducive to weight loss, especially sustainable and healthy weight management. So, what can we do? Small reductions in our intake, and minor additions to our output. Try opting for more lower calorie foods like vegetables, and less processed, high calorie foods, plus more movement.
Mistake: Fad diets
The key to good nutrition and weight loss is unlocking what’s right for you. While a four week fad diet or a fat burning pill might sound appealing, they may be unlikely to work in the long-term because there is no actual behaviour or attitude change. Success in weight loss comes from consistency over time, so make sure you do what’s right for you.
Myth: you need to cut out your favourite foods
This is a common one – and often one of the first mistakes we make. Despite what some diets may lead you to believe, it really is possible to go on a diet and still eat your favourite foods. The reason behind this is that if you want to keep the weight off in the long-term, it’s important that you ease into the weight loss. Many of us fall for black and white thinking. This can mean as soon as we have a treat we feel as though we’ve ‘failed’ our diet and might as well continue to binge or eat unhealthy foods until we decide to start again. The secret to weight loss and diet success is being flexible and finding the shades of grey.
Mistake: Forgetting the necessary steps
Dieting doesn’t happen overnight. When you learn a new skill, you don’t expect to be able to do it perfectly the day after you decide to begin. For example, when learning an instrument we usually accept the fact there are incremental learning steps along the way. Unfortunately, when it comes to dieting we can sometimes seem to completely disregard this. We think we should be perfect right away and that we can skip all the necessary steps and jump straight to level 10. And what happens when we jump to level 10? The same thing that happens when we try and play a complex musical piece when we haven’t even learnt the basic notes - we fail miserably. We get discouraged and we give up. Rather than aim for level 10 straight away, consider where you are at, think about what level 10 might look like for you, then select the next single step to take in that direction. Once you have mastered that step, you can take the next. Just like learning an instrument, you must master the basics before tackling the complexities.
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