Page 1 of 4Almost every time we turn on the television or glance at a magazine cover in the supermarket checkout line, we are bombarded with the new weight-loss rules and diet plans. We're constantly given suggestions to drink a special shake, cut out carbs, or choke down tasteless food combinations, but we as a nation aren't losing weight—we're getting heavier. What are you to believe when fad diets and false claims are flying at you from every direction? It's no wonder we're so confused about what to eat and how to manage our weight.
We've all been exposed to various "diet rules" over the years and, accurate or not, many of us still live by them. It's time to debunk six of these outdated and unhelpful rules once and for all and give you some NEW guidelines that will actually help you reach your goals!
Old rule: Don’t eat after 7 p.m.
So what makes 7 (or 8 or 9) p.m. a magical cutoff time anyway? The original idea was that people should stop eating about 3 hours before bed, using 10 p.m. as an average bedtime. Although it is a good idea to stop eating a few hours before bed, the reasoning has nothing to do with weight gain; it’s basically an issue of digestion and personal comfort. Going to sleep on a full stomach may make sleeping uncomfortable, as the body is simultaneously shutting down to rest while still exerting energy to digest the food. This may lead to fitful sleep as well as gas and indigestion—but not weight gain. Your body is smart, but it doesn't know what time it is when you eat. It will metabolize calories eaten after 7 p.m. the same way as it does the calories you eat earlier in the day. They will NOT automatically be stored as fat.
New rule: Don’t mindlessly snack in the evening.
What does cause weight gain for many people is eating a large amount of unhealthy food at night. Not eating after 7 p.m. is a good rule if you tend to mindlessly munch on food all evening long, whether to soothe the day's stress or relieve boredom. Your total caloric intake for the day is what matters—not the time at which you eat your calories. You can eat at night without gaining weight, as long as you are eating mindfully to satisfy real hunger rather than stress or boredom and don't go over your calorie needs for the day when doing so.