Diet Myth #1: Watching Your Weight? Then Eat Less

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As part of our research for "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," we conducted a "Ditch the Diet Taste Test." We asked successful SparkPeople members, yo-yo dieters and others to answer questions about weight loss, healthy eating, and dieting--and to pit Chef Meg's healthy, delicious recipes against traditional, bland "diet food."
You can read all about the Taste Test in Chapter 2 of "The SparkPeople Cookbook," but this week we're sharing five of the diet myths we debunked as part of that project.
Diet Myth #1: When you're watching your weight, you have to eat less.
No way! We say NO growling bellies, NO deprivation, and NO puny portions. We fill up our plates with healthy food, so the eyes and the stomach are satisfied. When it comes to eating right, losing weight, and feeling satisfied after a meal, it comes down to one word: satiety.

Satiety (suh-TIE-uh-tee) is that wonderfully pleasant feeling of fullness you get as you eat, when you’re no longer hungry but aren’t overly stuffed or uncomfortable. You are just satisfied beyond desire. The more satisfied you feel after a meal, the less you’ll eat later. So how do you increase satiety without eating more calories?
Our No. 1 tip to stay fuller longer is to lean on low-density foods. Calorie density refers to the number of calories per gram of food. Foods that are high in calorie density contain a high number of calories per gram; foods that are low in calorie density contain a low number of calories per gram. Calorie density is the key to feel full without overeating.
When you eat too many calorie-dense foods, you’ll end up consuming a lot of calories to fill your belly. If you focus on low calorie density foods, such as those used in our recipes, you can fill up on fewer calories because low-density foods contain a lot more water, which adds weight and volume to the food, but no calories.
Just drinking a glass of water along with the meal does not provide the same degree of satiety. Research, including a year-long study at Penn State University, has shown that to reduce hunger and boost fullness, the water has to be in the food. Why? Because there are separate mechanisms in the brain to control hunger and thirst. If the food you eat contains the water, it will stay in the stomach longer while the food is being digested. Beyond that, there is also the psychological component of eating food versus drinking water. When you eat food, even water-rich food, you get more sensory stimulation because you have more food going through your mouth and you’re eating for a longer period of time, both of which help you feel more satisfied with your meal.

When you read "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," you'll notice that we fill the plate but the recipes themselves are low in fat and calories. That's because we chose our ingredients carefully: plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. You'll never feel deprived or leave the table hungry with these recipes! Though many "diets" force you to choose quality OR quality, SparkPeople doesn't. You can fill your plate--and eat every bite--while still losing or maintaining weight!

Learn more about this diet myth in "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." Click here to get five sneak peek recipes, too.

Do you buy into this diet myth? Why or why not?

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EVIE4NOW 7/3/2020
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For some people the eat less is true--the ones who overeat at every meal. Stopping when you are satisfied rather than clearing all the bowls is eating less. It is being aware. Report
These myths were put in place by supplement companies so they could better sell protein powder, bars, and meal replacement bars. /
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Thanks for the tip Report
Agreed!!! Nothing is worse than starving yourself due to small portions. It’s all in what you are eating!! Great to read this article thank you! Report
Very good article Report
I enjoy that working out and being able to put away more healthier heart based nutritional foods....yum Report
" Though many "diets" force you to choose quality OR quality, SparkPeople doesn't." I assume the writer meant QUANTITY OR QUALITY

I agree that eating enough high quality foods and nutritiously high content foods are key to a healthy lifestyle.
I just bought this book two nights ago, can't wait to read it! Report
As somebody who used to not eat enough, it has been a big change to make myself eat more and more healthy. A good one. I agree portion control is key though. Report
"Diet Myth #1: When you're watching your weight, you have to eat less."

Actually, I do buy into this myth. Of course you should eat less when it's rich, fatty food. Ever had French food? It's rich, full of calories, delicious, but the portion sizes are tiny!

The thing is that in the US, our portion sizes are blown so far out of proportion, that we overeat. I found that the more I monitor how much I am eating, the more satiated I get on just a small amount of food, sort of a stomach retraining. Report
I go further to say that there is no such thing as a "diet" when considering the correct way to lose weight. There is only eating nutritionally efficient food responsibly. A "diet" is generally considered something one does in the short term to lose weight. When it ends, the weight gain begins again. Therefore diets are useless. Eating the right food in the correct portions not only sustains your weight, but it will cause you to lose (or gain) to the correct healthy weight for your body size and lifestyle.

I didn't "diet" for years because I didn't think I could take "going hungry". That's the hurdle for a large percentage of people who need to lose. When I found out how to eat correctly, I lost 45 pounds and never "went hungry" a day in that time. Report
Great point about the importance of satiety. If you are hungry all the time, you will fail at your diet as that can't be maintained (at least I could not).

However, I (and many others) have found that fats, though dense in calories, do a better job of providing satiety then almost anything else. It is actually hard to over eat fats as long as you don't combine them with a lot of carbs. Report
I eat way more often and more food than I ever did before losing weight. I hate my stomach hurting so I have no desire to starve myself! Report
amen to that!!!...ok I'll say it again...AMEN~! Report
It definitely works. The other key to this that is also very important, is to find low-calorie food that you actually enjoy eating. You can eat all the celery, carrots, and other tastier, healthy, low-calorie food, but if you don't like it, it won't stick. I'm a picky eater and the only way this worked for me was for my wife and I to experiment. I found that there was actually a lot of healthy, low-calorie food that aren't called celery and lettuce and that I actually enjoy just as much, if not more than the unhealthy food I was eating. You can do it. And once you do it, it works! Report
Great tip! I have a bad habit of overeating. I am now learning what to eat to be satisfied and not stuffed. Report