Everyone knows the old, outdated mantra of “Eat Less, Move More” & unfortunately many in the health, specifically the weight loss, industry are still using this as a general rule of thumb.
Now, there is nothing wrong with the move more aspect. We should all try doing that. Even if it’s just getting up for 5-10 minutes every hour & walking around the house/office. Do more than you did the day before – it’ll make you feel great, help with sleep & improve general fitness.
The eating less part – well, anyone who has been on a diet knows how UTTERLY MISERABLE they are doing so. Here are a few reasons why it’s so problematic
Eating Less Is Just Food Restriction
When you’re told to eat less then you are literally restricting how much you eat. Many nutritionists frown upon restrictive eating – such as removing certain foods such as bread, rice and pasta or entire food groups. However, the next piece of advice is to just eat less and not just a little, the general advice is around 500 calories less – that’s an entire meal!
Feeling hungry after having had your “daily calorie allowance” is one of the big reasons people “fall off the wagon” and can lead to disordered eating, such as binging. Rather than allowing yourself to have something which could be beneficial to your health such as a healthy snack, you reach straight for the calorie-dense foods – crisps, chocolate, and cakes…and not just one.
But, “I’ll start again Monday”, yeah?
Not Everyone Who Is Overweight Eats Too Much
Most people who know they suffer from obesity know so and are immediately judged as someone who “just eats too much” when the simple fact is there is a good chance they’re already eating too little. I’m not saying this is the reason in every case, just in plenty of people I’ve spoken to over the years.
You will see these people turn their habits around and suddenly tell you that they’ve never eaten as much food before yet they’re losing weight. They are feeling mentally and physically better but they are eating more food! It isn’t just the quantity, it’s the quality.
Telling someone who is already struggling on 1200 calories and seeing no results that they “just need to eat less” can be harmful and push them into potential malnourishment and eating disorder territory.
Eating Can Lead To Poor Choices
When you have a set amount of food you can eat, with no real guidance about what you should be eating, you are likely to make choices based on the foods you want rather than need.
“Oh, I’ll skip lunch so I can have this chocolate bar”.– A chocoholic
The chocolate bar provides instant happiness through the release of dopamine, whereas a chicken salad tends to be just a chicken salad.
One choice is full of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. The other is a blood sugar spike, followed by a crash and the craving for more. It would be better to just have both!
“Eat Less” Isn’t Good Guidance On HOW To Eat.
Technically switching to a medium meal at McDonald’s is less than a large, eating a single back of Doritos rather than a sharer bag is less but when you have it every day it is still putting the wrong fuel in your body.
As I said earlier, for many people, eating less is just going to make them hungry and crave more foods that are not going to help them achieve their goals. Especially if those goals involved weight loss.
Eat Better, Eat Smarter
Instead, look at eating better! See what you can add to your meals rather than what you can remove.
- Give priority to protein and fibre, to keep you fuller for longer.
- Get as many different coloured fruits & vegetables into your week.
- Add beans, legumes & pulses to your meals.
- Eat until you are close to full, rather than being worried about how many calories you can have.
- Eat when your body says you’re hungry, even if it is just a piece of fruit or some nuts.
🥑🥕🍅🍎🍉🥝 Add MORE variety into your life 🥝 🍉🍎🍅🥕🥑
If you want that cake or chocolate bar then allow yourself to have it, but make sure it’s just a tiny % of the food you eat in a week. If you allow yourself to have it, GUILT-FREE, then you’ll probably want it less.
Food is about more than calories, more than good or bad, more than weighing every grain of rice you eat, and more than worrying every moment of the day whether you how you’re going to make it to the bed with a gurgling stomach.
There is nothing wrong with having weight loss as a goal, just don’t make it the only reason to change your habits.