Rebecca Minshall, RD. Aurum’s Registered Dietitian, speaks on the Truth about Dieting and the myths about weight loss diets in this informative free seminar.
This webinar was Recorded Live on June 25, 2020.
Follow along on our video and download the free Resource Guide Handout on the Truth about Dieting at this link below.
THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS DIETING
The Resource Guide by Rebecca Minshall, MHSc, RD
Aurum Medicine and Wellness Clinic
DO DIETS WORK?
YES… Short term weight loss often happens when we restrict our calorie intake through dieting … and …NO.
People are RARELY able to maintain this weight loss long term and weight regain is common as well as many other negative side effects
What is it?
- Diet culture is a set of beliefs that worships thinness and fears fatness.
- Thinness is seen as more desirable than fatness. Thin bodies are seen as being successful, happy and healthy; and fat bodies are seen as being lazy, undesirable and unhealthy.
- Diet culture promotes unrealistic and unhealthy body ideals for the majority of people.
- This can be very harmful for those who don’t fit these body types as it impacts self-esteem and promotes weight loss.
- Diet culture places the blame on the individual who is not able to lose weight, and does not acknowledge that there are many other factors that determine weight.
MYTHS ABOUT FATNESS
Many common beliefs about fatness are myths that are not built on sound science. However, because these myths have been repeated so often, they’re seen as facts. Debunking fatness myths can help us to look at these fears of fatness in a new light and support us in finding our own paths to wellness.
Myth 1: Fatness leads to shorter life spans
Reality: Research shows that “overweight” people can live longer than “normal weight” people; and “obese” people can live just as long as those of “normal weight”.
Myth 2: Fatness plays a large role in disease
Reality: Though there are higher rates of many diseases in heavier people, this does NOT mean that fatness causes this. There are other factors and traits that differ between lighter and heavier weight people, that are not because of fat. An example is fitness. Unfit thin people may have up to twice as high death rates than people who are “obese” and fit.
Myth 3: Weight loss improves health
Health improvements can happen to anyone at ANY size. People usually change other habits like exercise and diet when they experience weight loss. Pursing weight loss alone harms health and can increase mortality rate and lead to weight loss/regain cycles
DIETING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK…. WHY MIGHT THAT BE?
CALORIES IN DO NOT ALWAYS EQUAL CALORIES OUT
Calories is a word for energy. We need energy to live. How much energy (AKA calories) we absorb from our food varies from person to person. This means that two people could both eat 100 calories of pizza, and one person absorbs 95 calories whereas the other absorbs 80 calories. Some of the reasons for this include:
- Gut bacteria can digest some of the food we eat instead of being absorbed. Dieting can change our gut bacteria, increasing how much energy is absorbed from food (causing weight regain)
- Genes, hormones and neurotransmitters can cause body reactions that turn food energy into heat that leaves the body
- Body reactions can turn food energy into fat stores OR make our bodies more efficient at burning fat OR building muscle during exercise
- Medications and disease states can cause weight changes
- Emotions about food can cause stress and gut problems that impact metabolism
- Environmental toxins such as plastics can mess with the endocrine system and increase fat storage
OUR BODIES ON DIETS
When starting a calorie-restricting diet, we will likely lose weight initially because our body stores will be burned for energy. BUT longer term calories restriction causes our bodies to go into survival mode to save all possible energy. Survival mode can cause:
- Our metabolism to slow down so we burn less calories
- Our hunger signals and appetite to increase so a larger range of foods are more appealing. If we restrict for long enough, our body can turn off our hunger signals because this wastes valuable energy
- Our eating habits can change because we become more tired and less energetic than if we were more well nourished.
- Troubled relationship with food, lower self-esteem, self-hatred
- Repeated cycles of weight loss and gain can cause inflammation which increases the risk for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
- Our set point increases.
Much of our body’s weight regulation is beyond our mind’s control. This is good because our bodies want to keep us alive and will maintain a stable weight if we let them. Your set point is the weight range that is optimal for YOUR body. It is usually between 10-15 pounds. Your body will work hard to keep you in that range. For some people, their set point is in the “normal weight” range and for others it is in the “overweight” or “obese” weight ranges – just like how we are all different heights.
Your set point is:
- The weight you naturally maintain when eating to appetite, and tune into your hunger signals.
- The weight you naturally maintain when you don’t focus on weight or food habits.
- The weight you return to in between diets.
- Determined by your biology/genes, biography and current circumstances
There is a good chance that if you feel the need to control your weight by watching calories, you may be above your set point, not below. Going above our set point is more flexible than going below, where our bodies kick into that survival mode.
Fighting our set points is a losing battle. We have little control over this weight range. It’s much easier to begin to live at peace with your body, and find ways to listen to your appetite, enjoy activity and food.
START LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
Your body has the greatest wisdom, and you are your own expert. You don’t need to count calories to know how many calories works best for your body. Pay attention to how food influences your physical and mental well being; this will guide you to choosing foods that are more nutritious and work best for YOU.
- Do you have more energy after eating a small amount of carbs vs a large amount?
- Do you feel full longer when you pair a carb with a protein/fat? (e.g. apple & peanut butter)
- What foods may make you feel bloated? Do you feel better having smaller amounts at a time?
No foods are off limits. Food can stop holding so much power over us because we know we can have whatever we feel like, whenever we feel like it. Eating something that is allowed is not as tempting as eating something off limits. This also helps to reduce guilt around food. Eat plenty of variety and you’ll get the nutrients you need.
Food can help us manage our emotions like anger, sadness or boredom, and helps us feel temporarily more stable. This is normal and completely fine. Concern comes when food is our ONLY coping mechanism; especially if it is followed by guilt due to diet mentality and weight fears. The “problem” isn’t that you’re over eating – it’s that you don’t yet have other ways to cope with emotions.
The drive to eat when we aren’t physically hungry means we need something.
Acknowledging that you are an emotional eater can be a great place to start – as this has played an important role in your self-care and was the best way to deal with emotions that you knew at that time.
When you feel the urge to eat, pause and ask yourself. Am I physically hungry?
- If no – then ask: What am I feeling? What do I need?
- Maybe you need a hug, to call a loved one, go for a walk or take a nap
- If yes – then eat!
Listening to our bodies, being compassionate with ourselves and accepting our size isn’t a straightforward journey. Be gentle with yourself – change takes time!
- Move for the FUN of it. Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous or continuous – we can add activity into our every day lives. Here are some ideas:
- Go for a walk with a friend, join a class or team, clean the house, take the stairs, start gardening, park farther away, stand/stretch or move every hour as a break, hold walking meetings, play a childhood game (like tag or hide n seek), try yoga.
- Try to get enough sleep.
- Check in with your stress levels. Relaxation is important! Breathing techniques, meditation and talking about our feelings can help.
- Social media cleanse: Begin to notice what social media accounts may be bringing down your self-esteem. You have the power to unfollow anything that doesn’t make you feel good! Look for accounts that have more positive messages, especially around body image.
- Wardrobe cleanse: Clothes should fit you –not the other way around! Dress how you want. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Do your make up (or don’t) because YOU want to – not because you feel pressured to be a certain beauty standard.
- Barrya et al (2014). Fitness vs fatness on all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis. Progress in Cardiovascular Disease. Vol 56. iss. 4, pp 382-9
- Bacon, L & Aphramor, L. (2014). Body Respect: What conventional health books get wrong, leave out and just plain fail to understand about weight
- Hardley, R. (2019). The many problems with BMI – AKA the BS measuring index. Accessed by :https://www.rachaelhartleynutrition.com/blog/problems-with-bmi
- Harrison, C. (2018). What is diet culture? Accessed by: https://christyharrison.com/blog/what-is-diet-culture
- Keys, A.; Brožek, J.; Henschel, A.; Mickelsen, O.; Taylor, H. L. Oxford, England: Univ. of Minnesota Press The biology of human starvation. (2 vols).(1950). xxxii 1385 pp.
- Muenning et al (2008) I think therefore I am: Perceived ideal weight as determinant of health. American Journal of Public Health. Vol 96, Iss 9. pp 1662-68.
- Puhl, R., Andreyeva, T.& Brownell, K. (2009). Perceptions of weight discrimination: Prevalence and comparison to race and gender discrimination in America. International Journal of Obesity. Vol 32, Iss 6, pp. 992-1000.
About the Author
Rebecca is a holistically-minded Dietitian. She believes food is a cornerstone of well-being and is complementary to life, should not be overwhelming or restrictive. Using mindful eating approaches, Rebecca focuses on what works best for each individual she works with, recognizing that we are all unique. Read more about Rebecca at this link here.
Nutrition and Dietetics. Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian licensed by the College of Dietitians of Ontario
Book an in-person or virtual telehealth appointment at this link here.
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Please note that nutrition counseling appointments by our Registered Dietitian are available to Ontario residents as well as to residents of a select few other provinces in Canada. Do book a free meet & greet to see if you can work with Rebecca virtually from where you live.