Nutrition Articles

6 Diet Rules Meant to be Broken

Out with the Old, in with the New

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Old rule: Give up eating all of your favorite fattening foods.
This is a common practice can backfire even on those with very high levels of willpower and motivation. It’s simply unrealistic to think that you can cut out all the foods that you love without ever rebelling. Chances are, if you keep yourself from eating your favorite “bad” foods all the time, you’ll eventually end up giving in and bingeing on those foods since you haven’t had them in so long. By categorizing foods into “good” and “bad” groups, you’re only setting yourself up to want what you can’t have. Good-for-you foods feel like punishment and "bad-for-you" foods are more alluring.

New rule: Eat anything you’d like within moderation.
Instead, of giving up certain foods and forcing yourself to eat others, don’t make any food off-limits. With moderation and portion control, you can still eat your favorites without straying from your goals. Try sprinkling a few chocolate chips on your oatmeal in the morning instead of eating an entire chocolate bar, or have one tablespoon of peanut butter with some celery instead of slathering layers of it on a sandwich. By allowing yourself these little treats, you’ll still be able to eat what you love, gradually decrease the intensity of your cravings, and avoid binges that could derail your weight loss efforts.


When it comes down to it, the new rules for weight loss are common sense—and easier to stick with. The bottom line is to ultimately listen to your body’s signals and honor your cravings in a sensible way while incorporating regular exercise, portion control and healthy eating habits into your lifestyle for the long term. Incorporate these new “rules” into your repertoire and you’ll be amazed at what a difference such small changes can make!

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople nutritionist, Tanya Jolliffe.
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Member Comments

  • For me, as a struggling binge eater, the evening cut-off time has nothing to do with fear of gaining or indigestion, it's more a personal reminder to stop eating mindlessly before bedtime, plus I like the feeling of an empty stomach in the mornings. - 7/17/2014 6:43:15 PM
  • This article is one of the reasons I need SparkPeople the most. I knew these myths many years ago and truly believed in living a balanced life (in all things). I also believed that if I listened to my body - it would tell me what it needed - then I started to listen to the myths. Just thinking about the "don't eat after 7PM". I was lactose intolerent as a child and when I stayed at Grandma's she always would have a bedtime snack, small piece of fruit or celery with peanut butter - great nights sleep were guaranteed. At home it was ice cream - I was always up roaming the house alone as a child. I have problems sleeping most of my adult life and have tried for numerous years to follow the rules like don't eat after 7pm. Recently I have been having a snack about hour before going to sleep. And guess what I have had a solid night's sleep everynight for 10 days -but 1. - 4/7/2014 7:40:22 AM
  • I'm pleased to see the advice about not eating after 7pm is dismissed by SP. I have sleep problems, but contrary to advice have found that when I sometimes eat a bowl of cereal or a banana not long before going to bed I have a better night's sleep. I don't do this every night, just when I've had a string of nights with bad dreams and wakefulness. - 10/26/2013 2:41:56 AM
  • I just eat smaller portion, drink plenty of water , exercise, 5 fruits and 5 veggies. It works for me. - 6/9/2013 10:35:07 AM
  • So much silliness still around about what to eat & when. Since Whole Grains are the second oldest food group known to man, Meat was first, how can anyone say we can't eat them?? Whole grains led to Civilization. Anyway, I get the meaning of the article - MODERATION & PORTION CONTROL people - you can eat anything you like & lose weight if you use moderation & portion control. And complex carbohydrates - whole grains, veggies & fruits as close to original as possible are VERY important to a healthy body!! - 1/20/2013 10:28:30 PM
  • SPARKLEMEUP2
    This is so true--I went from 276 to 165 by deleating all carbs from my diet--except a few crackers with meals--then of course I went back to 195--where I'm starting over again now..including the carbs I should have never taken from my diet--I did binge-big time..live and learn. - 1/13/2013 1:27:48 PM
  • Reading all these comments reminds me what is wrong with "dieting" in the first place. There is SO much contradictory stuff out there it could drive a person mad! Carbs are good, no carbs are bad. Fat is good, fat is bad. Only get your fat from animals, only from plants. There is NO winning. Its no wonder people just give up and keep doing what they've always been doing.

    I have to agree with the people who say moderation in all things. And it just so happens to be what my religion believes. If we truly followed this one thing, we'd all be a lot happier. Not too little food, not too much. You can have your favorite food-just moderate yourself. Exercise? Same thing there. Do a moderate amount-dont just sit on the couch thinking about doing it and don't kill yourself by doing three hours a day.

    Okay, Im through ranting...... - 1/13/2013 2:14:37 AM
  • http://scdlifesty
    le.com/2012/0
    3/the-gluten-
    free-lie-why-
    most-celiacs-
    are-slowly-dying/
    Interesting article about the danger behind Gluten Free Dieting - 1/11/2013 2:54:36 PM
  • I cant wait tell the no gluten fad is out of our society. One of the biggest myths around. Yes there are people who should not eat Gluten, those with an intolerance. BUT gluten DOESNOT make you gain weight. WHOLE GRAIN foods are very good for you and everything is good in moderation. Cut out the white flour, white pasta and white rice and switch to whole grains and you will see a difference. - 1/11/2013 2:46:18 PM
  • We don't need grains in our diet, that is outdated information pushed on us by Big Food. Becky Hand is behind the times; how many times do people have to remind SP of that? - 1/11/2013 2:20:08 PM
  • Great article, I would share it but I do not belong to any other social networking sites. - 1/11/2013 11:39:48 AM
  • CANUCKSFAN2
    The point of eating your favourite foods in moderation is to allow people to eat the foods they love without having to cut them out completely. Just because you can cut out those sort of foods completely doesn't mean that everybody else can, financially or otherwise. - 1/11/2013 10:54:55 AM
  • I'm so glad to see some real-world comments here, particularly about the need for sugar and starch in one's diet - there IS no need for sugar and starch in one's diet.

    Veggies and fruits are clearly good for you, whether they have a few carbs or not. Legumes and tubers are less good, but still have some value. Grains are not good for most people, particularly modern hybridized wheat strains. They are essentially empty calories, and are moderately addicting to boot.

    "Whole grains" are like filtered cigarettes. You're just kidding yourself that they're any healthier than their refined versions. Removing wheat from your diet results in almost immediate improvements in health for most people. - 1/11/2013 9:18:34 AM
  • The article was interesting and informative. What followed with the comments is exactly why I have fought tooth and nail to be "on a diet". Confusion reins it seems. Do this, don't do that. NEVER eat this, oh you must have some of that to balance your diet. It's almost impossible to know that what I'm eating or not eating is good for me. I guess the best thing to do is eat in moderation everything I like and watch the calories and exercise regularly.....and leave off reading what other people think is best. - 1/11/2013 8:32:15 AM
  • I like the idea of not mindlessly in the evening - 1/11/2013 5:17:15 AM