Recently I seem to have a lot of people telling me they can’t lose weight because they aren’t eating enough.
I don’t buy it.
There is a very simple equation when it comes to losing weight. If you put more in than you are using, you put on weight. If you put the same amount in as you are using, you stay the same. If you put less in than you are using, you lose weight.
OK, I accept that if you are doing a lot of training and building muscle, then that can go a little awry as muscle weighs more than fat, but in that case you will still be losing fat, even if you are not losing weight.
So what’s going on? Are people just in denial? Are they lying to me? Are they lying to themselves? My guess is the answer is yes to at least one of those if not all.
Let’s start by thinking about them lying to themselves. Did you know that when people are asked to keep a food diary, they normally under report the calories they are eating by about a third – yes 33% less than what they are actually consuming. They don’t do it deliberately, but it happens all the same. This comes from a number of things.
- They don’t notice that they’ve eaten a slightly larger portion than they should have had. Or that they’ve had seconds!
- They forgot about that sweet, cookie, crisp or snack that they had.
- They forget that what they drink also contains calories (unless you are drinking, pure unadulterated water) 140 calories in a can of coke, 210 calories in a pint of cider, 600 calories in a bottle of wine.
- They add little extras to their food like a drizzle of olive oil or a splash of dressing (both of which are likely to be over 100 calories)
- They read the calories wrong – for instance if you buy a pre-prepared meal it may have a calorie amount printed on the packaging – but look carefully as this often applies to 1/2 or 1/4 or the amount of food in there as this is what they consider to be a serving size.
Then comes the lying to me. As well as the fact that they may think they are telling the truth, but are in fact actually lying (see above!) there is also the fact that a lot of people are ashamed of their eating habits. They are secret eaters and don’t like to think that other people will know about it. Quite often this type of over eater is a binger. That is to say, they maintain a normal looking diet to the world, but secretly they will binge on snacks. I understand this, but lying is a very self destructive path to take when it comes to food. What you are saying to yourself is ‘my true self is not good enough’ ‘I have to hide it or others will not like me’ ‘my true self is not likeable’. This is, of course, not true. Your eating habits may be out of control, but that doesn’t make you unlikable.
The best way to get control of your eating, is to start by being honest. It’s the bedrock that everything else builds from. So this week, my challenge to you, is to really pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth! Notice what you eat. Notice what you drink. Notice when you are secretly eating. That way if you decide you want to change things, you have a good, solid place to start from.
Being overweight put additional strain on your body and leads to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart attack – 4 major killers in the western world. If you struggle to get control of your weight on your own, think about getting some help. It really doesn’t have to be hard.