We made the mistake of checking out some of the online headlines about dieting again. It’s depressing. But not for the usual reasons of wishing there really was a fast, easy way to lose weight. It’s depressing because people still seem to be swallowing the myths hook, line and sinker.
And as long as they’re gobbling them up, the media and advertisers keep pushing them. We’re not talking just about scam artists trying to cash in on everyone’s burning desire to be slimmer either.
For 132 years, Good Housekeeping has been one of the most respected women’s magazines in the world. Their ‘Seal of Approval’ is widely accepted as an assurance of the quality of the products it adorns.
Yet, regardless of their status and reputation, GH has no problem selling you on the same common myths of weight loss as any ‘fad’ diet promoter. The danger is, considering GH’s reputation, readers couldn’t be blamed for believing that the claims made in the title of the Google result shown below must be possible, legitimate and healthy. They are none of those.
Before you go running off looking for this low-calorie diet, understand that losing 20 pounds in a week, regardless of how you do it, puts your body under extreme stress. Suddenly changing your diet to the point of losing 20 pounds – a relatively large percentage of your body weight – can slow down your metabolism so that you’ll stop losing weight, even with a 1,200 calorie-a-day diet. And the ‘rebound’ binging that you’re setting yourself up for after the diet can be just as damaging to your health and devastating to your weight, which will shoot back up, potentially eclipsing where it was before you started the diet.
The Myths of Dieting
In just the 13 words of the title of the Good Housekeeping ad above, “1200 Calorie Diet Menu – 7 Day Lose 20 Pounds Weight Loss Meal Plan”, they rely on three myths about dieting.
As you peel away each diet myth in search of the truth, you find yet another myth. We can never reveal every myth that’s promoted everywhere, but here are some of the most common and dangerous.
1. Diets Have a Limited Time
It’s part of everyone’s desire to find a fast, simple way to lose weight. We want to know we’re going to lose a lot of weight and we want to do it before the company picnic. So the ‘lose 20 pounds in a week’ offer is perfect.
A large part of the problem is that we have skewed the definition of the word ‘diet’ to relate to losing weight, instead of our overall eating habits. You’ve been on a diet since the day you were born because your diet is what you eat every day, whether you’re trying to manage your weight or not.
Of course, your diet is a large part of weight loss, but not just for 7, 90 or 120 days. Sustained, healthy weight loss will only come from healthy, ongoing changes to your diet.
2. Cutting Calories is a Sure Way to Lose Weight
If it was that simple, we’d all be as slim as Taylor Swift. The problem with the ‘cut calories, lose weight’ idea is that it reduces a serious health issue, like your body weight, to a simple mathematical equation.
“Let’s see, there are 3500 calories in a pound, I want to lose 10 pounds, so I need to cut 35,000 calories by next month.”
Again, this has a lot to do with the interpretation of a word. ‘Calorie’ has come to represent weight. ‘There are 3500 calories in a pound’ implies that 3500 calories weigh a pound. But calories don’t weigh anything. They are not even any ‘thing’. They are a measure of energy, just like a degree is a measure of temperature.
When you try to turn your body’s complex energy requirements, those it needs to stay healthy and alive, into a simple equation, you put your system into a tailspin. Reducing your energy and nutrition intake by cutting calories slows down your metabolism because your body isn’t sure what’s going on and it goes into survival mode.
While you should not get too much food energy (calories) because the excess energy gets stored as fat, instead of drastically cutting your energy and nutrition intake, start getting your food energy from foods with healthy fats and proteins that fill you up and make you more satisfied, so you eat less.
Be sure to keep an eye on the Herbal One blog for Let’s Bust Some Dieting Myths – Part Two. We’ll look at other misleading dieting myths, including that you should always choose low-fat food options, all calories are the same and you can eat as much fruit as you like.