Don’t waste your time with these terrible diet tips
It’s a new year and everyone is on a diet—I mean, a wellness trip. Whether you want to lose weight or not is none of my business, but please, please, let all the following stupid weight loss “hacks” die. Many of them are on the border disordered eating behaviorwhile others are just ways to make yourself miserable for no reason.
(By the way, if you feel like your relationship with food is out of control, the National Eating Disorders Association has a screening tool, a helpline, and more resources here.)
Smaller plates do not make us eat less
This is a classic: serving on a smaller plate should make a small amount of food appear larger. Therefore, you will eat less food overall and eventually lose weight.
But our brains and bodies are too smart to actually fool us. The idea that smaller plates promote smaller portions came from the lab, which was later proven to be true engaging in unfinished research practices. Other labs have performed their own plate size experiments and found that people usually do not eat less when you get smaller plates. Moreover, we improve portion size estimation when we are hungry. Hacking small plates didn’t fool us though.
Drinking a glass of water will not satisfy your hunger
There’s common healthy eating advice that says if you’re hungry, you should drink a big glass of water, because sometimes our bodies can’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst.
But there is no evidence that this is true or that drinking a glass of water will help. One of the most frequently cited works about hunger, thirst, eating and drinking discovered that we actually get little hungrier after drinking—and even if it were true that our bodies are mixing signals, the proposed solution probably won’t help.
Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with drinking a glass of water if you think you’d like it, whether you’re hungry or not. But don’t be fooled into thinking that hunger pangs are your body telling you that you’re thirsty. Your body knows the difference between food and water, okay? That’s why you haven’t starved or dehydrated to death yet.
It’s not necessarily a good idea to eat like a bodybuilder
There is a stereotype of bodybuilders eating only chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli out of small plastic containers. They eat disciplinedly and end up getting shredded, so this has to be a healthy meal choice, right?
While it can be a good meal if you enjoy it, this combination isn’t the best or only way to prepare a meal—especially if you’re not a fan of the individual components. Chicken breast and rice are notoriously unyielding when it comes to meal preparation anyway. They tend to dry out, especially if you prepare them without marinades and sauces.
So ditch your idea of healthy food look and make a plan that includes foods you really enjoy. Upgrade to chicken drumstickslearn to use good marinadethrow away that dry rice in a waffle iron, or simply make a completely different recipe. It’s okay for food to taste good.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of bodybuilder habits: no, eating lots of small meals it does not “boost” your metabolism.
It’s a diet, not a lifestyle change
The latter is not so much a hack as the oft-repeated platitude: “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.” If you’re trying to lose weight, do it not make this a lifelong process. Dieting is an act of intentional malnutrition. If you want or need to do it for a short time, then accept that choice and do it in the healthiest way you can. But once you’ve lost some weight, go back to fully nourishing your body again.
After all, it would be neither healthy nor wise to lose weight forever. Since we lose weight by consuming fewer calories than we expend, the exact meals and habits that help us lose weight are not they will be the ones that help us maintain our ideal weight once we achieve it. At the very least, you’ll need to increase your portions.
So, if you feel that your current diet or habits need to change, be sure to separate what needs to be changed in general (example: cook at home more often) and what should be changed temporary (example: smaller portions). Healthy eating and malnutrition are not the same thing at all.