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Don't Eat After 7 and Six Other Weight Management Myths

General, Nutrition | Comments Off on Don't Eat After 7 and Six Other Weight Management Myths
Don't Eat After 7 and Six Other Weight Management Myths

By Michelle May, M.D.
Diets are filled with dogma about when, what and how much to eat. Certainly “the
rules” are usually based on observations that make sense, but unless you
understand why you do certain things, you’ll break the rules as soon as the
temptation is greater than your motivation. Let’s examine some of these myths,
where they come from and how to make long term changes that will work for you.
Myth: Don’t Eat After 7pm
Your metabolism doesn’t shut off at 7:01 pm so why is this rule so common? It is
based on the observation that a lot of people who struggle with their weight
overeat in the evening. Most people have already eaten dinner so they aren’t
snacking because they’re hungry. They snack because of boredom, television,
loneliness and other triggers.
Rather than creating a rule to address those habits, ask yourself “Am I hungry?”
whenever you feel like eating in the evenings. If you truly are, eat, keeping in
mind that your day is winding down so you won’t need a huge meal. If you aren’t,
consider why you feel like eating and come up with a better way to address that
need. Ken, a man in one of my workshops, realized he was just bored so he
started doing stained glass in the evenings to entertain himself. Whatever works!
Myth: Eat Small Meals Every 3 Hours
This rule is based on the fact that many thin
people tend to eat frequent small meals.
However, most of the thin people I know don’t
check their watch to tell them it’s time to eat –
they eat when their body tells them to. They eat
when they’re hungry and stop when they’re
satisfied. Since that tends to be a small meal,
they get hungry again in a few hours.
Instead of watching the clock, begin to tune in to the physical symptoms of
hunger to tell you when to eat. And remember, your stomach is only about the
size of your fist so it only holds a handful of food comfortably. By learning to
listen to your body’s signals, you are likely to follow a frequent small meal pattern
Myth: Don’t Let Yourself Get Hungry
This one is based on the belief that overweight people are incapable of
controlling themselves when they are hungry. In my experience with hundreds of
workshop participants, once they learn to tell the difference between physical
hunger and head hunger, the opposite is true.
Think about it. When you’re hungry, food tastes better and is more satisfying. My
grandmother used to say, “Hunger is the best seasoning.” Besides, if you aren’t
hungry when you start eating, what’s going to tell you to stop? Of course, you
also need to learn to recognize hunger and make time to eat before you are too
hungry since it’s harder to make great choices when you are starving!
Myth: Exercise More When You Cheat
I HATE this one because it has caused millions of people to equate physical
activity with punishment for eating. As a result, many people either hate to
exercise or use exercise to earn the right to eat.
While it’s true that your weight is determined by your overall calories in versus
your calories out, exercise is only part of the equation and has so many other
important benefits. Instead of using exercise to pay penance, focus on how great
you feel, how much more energy you have, how much better you sleep and how
much healthier you are becoming. In the long run, you are more likely to do
something because it feels good than because you are forced to.
Myth: Follow Your Diet Six Days a Week Then You Can Have a Cheat Day
This is absurd! What if you were a harsh, overly strict parent six days a week
then completely ignored your kids every Saturday? How would this approach
work for your marriage or managing your employees?
It just doesn’t make sense to try to be perfect (whatever that is) Sunday through
Friday while obsessing about everything you’re going to eat on your day off.
Then on Saturday you overeat just because you’re allowed to so you end up
feeling miserable all day. Huh? Personally, I would rather enjoy eating the foods I
love every day mindfully and in moderation. I call this being “in charge” instead of
going back and forth between being in control and out of control.
Myth: Eat X Number of Calories (or X Number of Points) Every Day
Does it make sense that you would need exactly the same amount of fuel every
day? Aren’t there just days when you are hungrier than others, maybe because
of your activity levels or hormonal cycles?
Rather than setting yourself up to “cheat” on those hungry days and forcing
yourself to eat more food than you want on your less hungry days, allow yourself
the flexibility to adjust your intake based on your actual needs rather than an
arbitrary number. Important: for this to work long term, you also need to learn to
tell the difference between physical hunger and head hunger.
Myth: Carbs are Bad (or Fat is Bad)This “good food-bad food” thinking makes certain
foods special. As a result, you may feel deprived
and think about them even more than you did
before. Worse yet, healthy foods become a fourletter
The truth is all foods fit into a healthy diet. Since
different foods have various nutritional qualities and
calorie content, you can use the principles of balance, variety and moderation to
guide you without trying to restrict an entire food group.
Truth: You Are In Charge
I assume the rule-makers are well-intentioned and don’t realize that they’ve
created a tight rope that most people will fall off of sooner or later. If your head
hadn’t already told you that all these rules are crazy, wasn’t your heart saying
there had to be a better way?
It’s time to give yourself a wider path that you can stay on forever. Allow yourself
the flexibility to make any decision as long as you consider the advantages and
disadvantages of your choices and always keep self-care in mind.
If you are in the Phoenix area, join me for an 8-week Am I Hungry?® Workshop
beginning Monday, April 9th and I’ll show you how. Register or find a licensed Am
I Hungry? Facilitator near you:
Wishing you optimal health and joy!
Michelle May, M.D.

“This non-diet approach resonates with individuals and health care professionals
alike. The grass roots spread of Am I Hungry? has been nothing short of
amazing,” Dr. May said. Am I Hungry? paperback and DVD sales have continued
to climb as people discover a permanent solution to their food and weight issues