Are you struggling to lose weight?
I’ve been a dietitian/nutritionist for over 20 years and I have had countless people tell me they think it is impossible for them to lose weight. Some people believe there is something wrong with them….like they are lazy or unmotivated. Others feel like bariatric surgery is the only option because they have tried everything else and nothing has worked. However, the real issue tends to be that no one has taken the time to look at the underlying reason why that person is struggling with their weight to begin with. At Eat Great Feel Great, we don’t just treat the symptoms, we treat the underlying problem.
There are 3 common healthy eating messages which often get misinterpreted and misunderstood by the public. This information can actually end up contributing to people’s weight gain if they take the recommendation out of context.
1. You must eat five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.
I’m certainly not disputing the health benefits of vegetable and fruit. They are nutritional powerhouses and most people don’t eat enough of them. The problem is that vegetables and fruit are meant to REPLACE some of the other foods in your diet (eg. eat more salad and less potatoes). They aren’t meant to be in ADDITION to all of the foods you normally want to eat. Choosing mostly fruit (over vegetables) and eating them to be “healthy,” not because you are actually hungry, is just adding extra calories that your body doesn’t need. If your body isn’t physically hungry, your body doesn’t need food (even if it is healthy food).
2. You must eat breakfast (and/or 3 meals per day)
The intention here is for people to spread their food intake throughout the day instead of eating nothing all day and then cramming a day’s worth of calories into a few hours in the evening. Coming home from work ravenously hungry is a guaranteed way to end up craving sweet and starchy foods and eating way more food than what your body needs. Breakfast is one way to encourage people to spread their food intake throughout the day. However, if you aren’t physically hungry as soon as you get up, you need to be asking yourself why. The answer usually relates to how much food you have eaten the evening before. If you aren’t hungry 6-8 hours later, it usually means you ate too much before bed. So, the solution is therefore to reduce the amount you are eating in the evening, not to force yourself to eat breakfast when you aren’t even hungry.
3. Wholemeal bread is healthy so you can eat as much as you want.
While wholemeal bread is a great source of fibre and has more nutrients than white bread, I’ve met a lot of people who struggle with their weight primarily because of their bread intake. Two rounds of toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and two more rounds of toast before bed generally don’t fill people up for very long and tend to cause bigger cravings for starchy and sweet foods later in the day. Bread isn’t “bad” and the goal isn’t necessarily to give up bread completely. However, if you often feel hungry throughout the day, and if you often crave starchy and sweet foods, it may be worth looking at your bread intake. In my experience, there are two situations which trigger people to eat a lot of bread. The first is when people leave a loaf of bread sitting on the counter all day and they see it repeatedly throughout the day. If you are constantly reminding yourself about bread, it will be one of the first foods that come to mind when you are hungry. The second is when people have no plan for a meal. Since most people have bread in the house, toast and sandwiches become the fall-back options when people are stressed out, in a hurry and don’t know what else to eat.