When I discuss weight loss beliefs with people, it is a real eye-opener to me, because it helps me to understand why confusion develops and why frustration follows. These are a few of the things I have heard recently:
1. “My metabolism changes so quickly. One week I can lose a couple of pounds easily, and the next week I do the same thing and I lose nothing. I think I have really goofed up my metabolism.”
2. “I never eat popcorn the day before weighing in at Weight Watchers. Everyone knows that you should never do that or you will weigh more.”
3. “Aren’t carrots bad? I heard that they were really high in sugar.”
4. “My husband told me that there is nothing good about eating ice cream. Hah! He has obviously never eaten ice cream like I have eaten ice cream!”
1 & 2 above: The scale will tell you how much you weigh at any moment (your bones, organs, fat, muscle, FLUID, clothing if you are dressed, change in your pockets, etc). Body weight will change day to day (even hour to hour), depending largely on retained fluid in your body. Fat weight, which is what really matters when weight loss is a goal, will show up on the scale over time if a person’ energy balance (calories in vs. calories out) is negative. Fluid will always fluctuate within your personal weight range. Only when the range goes down consistently can we say that fat weight has decreased. The opposite is also true. Weight gain of even one pound overnight is seldom a gain of anything but the weight of fluid or food waiting to be digested. Beliefs about unexplainable weight gain often lead to discouragement and giving up the effort altogether. That is why it is so important to understand exactly what the scale measures, and equally important, what it does not. It is also important to evaluate the frequency that weighing really makes sense for you. If weighing daily leads to frustration and increased calorie intake, weighing less often would be a better idea.
3. This belief is a result of the low carb craze. Carrots do have some natural sugar, but in order to get any significant quantity of sugar from carrots, you would need to eat more carrots than you could hold. Carrots are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also natural and very low in calories, making them an excellent choice for health and weight loss. The question that comes to mind when I get this question is, “Is a carrot your biggest nutritional concern?” For most people, there are many other opportunities for improvement that would have more positive impact that cutting down on their carrot consumption!
4. My personal favorite comment! We all have foods we like to eat just because they taste good and give us pleasure. The goal of good nutrition is not to eliminate all pleasure from eating. I find that everyone has a personal limit to how much they can give up, and deprivation of too much pleasure from eating tends to lead to cravings and binges. It is true that many people rely too heavily on food for pleasure, and attempting to find pleasure in other ways is a necessary way to achieve a healthy weight. Still, we are human, and it is much more realistic to work on a balanced approach to finding pleasure than to try to eliminate all foods except those of ideal nutritional content. Putting pleasure foods into their rightful place, as part of a balanced life, is a goal that can be achieved more easily by working toward moderation of “treats” instead of eliminating them completely. That may take time, but the effort will pay off in terms of health and a healthier weight. By the way, my personal favorite “treat” is ice cream, so I found this belief especially interesting. I truly believe that eating ice cream in moderation is one of the things that allows me to choose healthy foods most of the time AND also have some eating just for pleasure.