2 September, 2020

Dieting myths to watch out for and mistakes to avoid

Everyone would like to lose the weight they’ve gained over time with the snap of a finger and never regain it.

It doesn’t take much to find a diet on the internet promising instant results. From the popular Keto Diet to the crazy Master Cleanse or the insane Cotton Ball Diet, they are unfortunately all built around dieting myths. Rapid weight-loss plans are usually characterized by poor nutritional quality and are not sustainable in the long run.

You are more likely to keep the weight off if you lose it through realistic and sustainable approaches that you can follow for the rest of your life. There is no set number on the scale that you need to achieve to be healthier and happier. Each body is different and you can make positive choices to take care of it. Choices that fit your needs and make you feel good. But the sooner you learn to respect your body as it is, the sooner you’ll be ready to start making healthy shifts in your habits.

What happens when you engage in a rapid weight loss program?

Most often, you go down a destructive path.

For your body: When following rapid weight loss diets, most people lose water weight and lean tissue (muscles), rather than fat. In addition, because muscle mass burns more calories a day than fat, a loss in muscle mass can slow your metabolism. So, once you begin to eat normally again, you are likely to gain weight, often to the point where you weigh more than before you started dieting. In fact, dieters are more likely than non-dieters to be overweight or obese.

For your mind:  Let’s be honest. No one would be able to survive on these kinds of diets for their whole life! And this is why: You impose tons of rules upon yourself and restrict your eating. Initially you are proud of yourself for being able to ignore hunger cues and eat carrots all day long. But after a few weeks you get bored and start thinking about food more and more. You feel stressed and hopeless about your weight and become impatient to eat certain foods again. This stressed thinking creates hormonal impairments which lead the body to store fat and intensify hunger. So now you feel HUNGRY and overeat nutrient dense foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Then ANGER kicks in. You feel guilty and blame yourself for overeating and there you are, trapped in the destructive loop of losing and gaining weight - yoyo-dieting!

5 dieting myths to watch out for

Let's take a look at some of the common diet myths that I wouldn't want you to ever consider again.

Myth 1 – Go on a strict diet

No to fats and carbs, eat nothing but celery and cucumber for a week. Of course you will lose weight. Diets that cut out an entire food group might help you lose weight in the short term. But strictly limiting calories and paying too much attention to everything you eat is not sustainable in the long run.

Instead of demonizing one food group, try to focus on choosing healthy options. For example, instead of choosing refined, highly processed carbohydrates, opt for whole grain versions. These are richer in micronutrients and full of fiber which makes you feel full longer. As for fats, try to make a shift towards less saturated fats and more omega-3 and -6 from olive oil, fish, seeds and nuts. Don’t be fooled by industrial products claiming to be low fat. Instead check the label since fats are often substituted with sugars.

Myth 2 - Skipping breakfast helps you lose weight

How many times have you heard the phrase breakfast is the most important meal of the day? I can’t say definitively whether this is really the case but skipping breakfast (and meals in general) makes it more likely to reach for high-fat, high-calorie snacks later in the day. In general, people who consistently eat a high fiber al breakfast are less likely to be overweight.

So, should we eat breakfast every day? From my standpoint, it’s up to you if you are a breakfast person or not, but you need to be aware that if you are skipping breakfast, you are missing part of the nutrients you need during the day and will need to make up for those at some point. The type of breakfast you choose also matters. Food quality affects your energy levels throughout the morning, your food choices later on, your weight and also your general health!

Myth 3 - No eating too late in the evening

Forget about the clock. It is not about when you eat but about how much and what you eat! Sure, it’s healthier for the digestive system to not eat a full meal immediately before going to bed, but eating an early dinner will not make you lose more weight than a later one.

From an energy point of view, a calorie is a calorie at any time of the day. In terms of body weight, the thing that matters the most is that the amount of energy that enters our body from food is the same amount that we spend through physical activity. That energy balance is the main thing that determines whether you gain or lose weight.

However, the reason why it is often advised to avoid eating late at night is because night time snacks tend to be high-calorie foods (like chips, cookies or chocolate), eaten mindlessly while sitting in front of the television. Before we know it, we have consumed the entire bag of chips and a bunch of unnecessary extra calories. I encourage you to be conscious about the reasons that lead you to eat at night after dinner. Is it due to hunger or to cope with boredom or stress? Choose your snack and portion mindfully.

Myth 4 – Superfoods for weight loss

No food exists with special properties that can help you to burn fat. Six months of lemon water in the morning and cucumber water in the afternoon are not going to make a miracle happen!

On the other hand, increasing consumption of antioxidant-rich foods can reduce systemic inflammation and help you get rid of that swollen feeling. In addition, fiber-rich food can help you feel full longer and reduce your calorie intake throughout the day. At every meal, serve up a balance of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein sources and good fats. But when it comes to weight loss, once again, the most important thing is to balance energy intake with energy expenditure.

Myth 5 – It’s all about eating less

Weight management is not only related to how much and what you eat, but to many other factors. If you are eating well but are not happy with your weight, keep an eye on:

  • Your sleeping routine. Sleep deprivation can make you feel hungrier, and makes you crave energy dense foods. Give your body enough sleep before you blame it.
  • Manage stress. The production of cortisol makes your body store visceral fat and slows down your metabolism.
  • Increase your physical activity. This doesn’t mean you need to engage in frantic aerobic exercise. You can increase your daily energy expenditure by making choices as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Engaging in regular physical activity and choosing resistance exercise helps you to preserve lean mass while losing fat.
  • Finally, be realistic and be happy! A healthy rate of weight loss is 0.5 kg per week. Be gentle with your body and pace yourself to make sure you will be able to maintain the weight loss you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

I hope that by now you are asking yourself Why did I even consider such diets!?.

Remember that rapid weight loss diets are short-term solutions, while weight management takes long-term commitment and the implementation of small changes that you can stick to for the rest of your life.

Your eating habits should make you happy and make you feel healthy. Being your own best caregiver t also means including your favorite foods, enjoying a small serving of dessert on special occasions, and savoring every bite of the food you eat.


  1. Bays, Jan Chozen (2009). Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Shambhala Publications.
  2. Rebecca Scritchfield (2016). Body Kindness: Transform your health from the inside out—and never say diet again. Workman Publishing Company.
  3. Buchholz Andrea C,  Schoellens Dale A. Is a calorie a calorie? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004, Volume 79, Issue 5, Pages 899S–906
  4. Mansouri M., Ranjbar S.H.,  Yaghubi H., Rahmani J., Tabrizi Y.M., Keshtkar A.,  Varmaghani M.,  Sharifi F., Sadeghi O. Breakfast consumption pattern and its association with overweight and obesity among university students: a population-based study.2020. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity vol 25
  5. The Conversation (2018). Does eating at night make you fat? https://theconversation.com/does-eating-at-night-make-you-fat-96804.
  6. Sleep Foundation. org (2020).Weight Loss and Sleep. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/weight-loss-and-sleep

Are you interested in nutrition tips?

Follow me on social media

Contact me today to get started!

Contact me

Mum and Baby Meal Plan

In this e-book you will find a weekly meal plan suitable for your weaning baby and for you, plus 12 recipes and many advices about how to ensure the best nutrition for your family.

Contact Me

Ludovica Ibba
Copenhagen (DK)


Follow Me