Are You Fooling Yourself About Your Good Eating Habits

I recently read an article by Cynthia Sass¹ and wanted to share the information her article provided as it may help you understand why you have put on weight or find it difficult to lose weight when you are on a diet.  She uses her experience of helping clients to reveal five of the ways in which her clients have lied to themselves about their eating habits.  Perhaps one or more of these may sound familiar?

I eat really healthfully most of the time


Are you like one of Cynthia’s clients and looking at your eating habits through rose-colored glasses and awarding yourself an A rather than the B minus you really deserve.  Perhaps your healthy breakfast being used as an excuse for less healthy eating habits for the rest of the day.

None of us are perfect but if you want to improve your eating habits you need to understand the way you are eating now.  Sass explains that switching from 1 cup of brown rice and ½ cup of broccoli to ½ cup of brown rice and 1 cup of broccoli can reduce the carbs you are eating by 20g and this is equivalent to walking on a treadmill fat 4 miles per hour for 85 hours.

I eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m full

Emotional EatingSass has found that her clients’ food diaries show them eating snacks one or two hours after having eaten a large meal.

This most likely means that the hunger that is being satisfied at this point is not physical but rather emotional or social eating. One client said, “I realize it’s not really hunger, but I fool myself into thinking it is, because I don’t know what else to do.”

It is difficult to recognize that your hunger is being driven by something other than the need for food.  One way which can help you understand your eating habits is to keep a food diary.

I’m not a big drinker

Glasses of white wineMany people consider themselves as not being big drinkers because they don’t drink as much as their friends or because they only drink at weekends or they have reduced the amount they drink. But these aren’t the correct measures to be used when considering how much you drink.  Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for chronic binge drinking is consuming just  four or more drinks within a two hour period if you are a women or five drinks or more in the same period if you are a man.

Drink doesn’t just impact your waistline it also impacts your health.  Sass also talks about the domino effect of alcohol on your eating habits explaining how having a few drinks on Saturday evening can impact your eating habits for the next day or so.

I eat 5 or 6 small meals a day

Very full plateA lot of people adjusted their eating habits to increase the number of meals they ate each day thinking this was a healthier way to eat and there is no problem with this.  The problem occurs because they are eating too much in these more frequent meals.  It doesn’t matter how many times a day you eat your body’s needs will be the same so for example if you  need to have 1,600 calories a day, this can be done in four x 400 calorie meals; five x 320 calorie meals; or six x 266 calorie meals.   Meals with just 266 calories would not be very big at all.

I can eat more because I work out a lot

Do you really work out a lot or does your eating match the level of exercise that you’d like to be achieving like another one of Sass clients confessed, “I think of myself as such an active person, but the truth is, it’s more wishful thinking than reality.”

Sass suggests tackling this by having a “baseline” eating plan, for non-exercise days, which you add to the days you workout. As she explains “mentally, it’s much easier to add to your plate, rather than take foods away”.

¹ Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics Frequently seen on national TV, Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team.  She has also written several books and her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

6 Responses to “Are You Fooling Yourself About Your Good Eating Habits”

  • Louise on October 2, 2017

    Hi Amber

    I started the attack phase today with two stone to lose. Just to make sure I’m on the right track or have not made a mistake I ate the following today;

    1.5 tbsp oat bran mixed in a fat free caramel yogurt

    5 slices of wafer lean thin ham

    I hard boiled egg
    I ff caramel yogurt

    250g konjac noodles
    1 large cod filled baked in tinfoil with soy sauce drizzled on top
    2 x 500 mls Diet Coke (0 calories)

    2.5 litres water

    • Amber on October 7, 2017

      Hi Louise

      That looks fine. Can you advise the make of the fat free caramel yogurt so I can check it out as fat free doesn’t always mean low carb.

      Best wishes


  • Emma on July 3, 2017

    Hi Amber,
    I successfully completed the Dukan diet and reached my goal weight, however I’m having a hard time maintaining my weight. I think it could be because during my first month of maintenance they were two weeks where I did not do pure protein days, since then I have done 2–3 pure protein days every week,and I come to my goal weight however when I eat like a regular person which I am supposed to for the next four days plus Daily oat bran, I begin to gain again. I really want to go back to doing one protein day a week and maintain my goal weight however I am scared that if I got down to one pure protein day a week I will slowly continue to gain all that I have worked so hard to lose. Can you guide me about what I should do.

    • Amber on July 4, 2017

      Hi Emma

      If your normal days are excessive one day of PP may not be enough. Normal should be eating/drinking whatever you want but not to excess.

      If there is a week when you are celebrating so that you are eating/drinking more you should include more PP days. An alternative would be to try include 1 or 2 PV days and see how this goes.

      Best wishes


      • Emma on July 4, 2017

        Hi Amber,
        Sadly my normal days are not too excessive but Ill try incorporating a PV day,thanks so much.

        • Amber on July 5, 2017

          Hi Emma

          If this doesn’t work come back to me again and I’ll see if I can think of something else.

          Good luck


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