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fruit and spinach in a bowlMeal Myths

Myth: “I can lose weight while eating whatever I want.”

Fact: To lose weight, you need to

use more calories than you eat. It is possible to eat any kind of food you want

and lose weight. You need to limit the number of calories you eat every day

and/or increase your daily physical activity. Portion control is the key. Try

eating smaller amounts of food and choosing foods that are low in calories.

Tip: When trying to lose weight, you

can still eat your favorite foods—as long as you pay attention to the total

number of calories that you eat.

Myth: Low-fat or nonfat means no calories.

Fact: A low-fat or nonfat

food is often lower in calories than the same size portion of the full-fat

product. But many processed low-fat or nonfat foods have just as many calories as the full-fat version of the same

food or even more calories. They may contain added

sugar, flour, or starch thickeners to improve flavor and texture after fat is

removed. These ingredients add calories.

Tip: Read the Nutrition Facts Label

on a food package to find out how many calories are in a serving. Check the

serving size too it may be less than you are used to eating. For more

information about reading food labels, read the brochure Energize Yourself and

Your Family, from the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) or visit the

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) online at

Myth: Fast foods are always an unhealthy choice and

you should not eat them when dieting.

Fact: Fast foods can be part of a

healthy weight-loss program with a little bit of know-how.

Tip: Avoid supersize combo meals, or

split one with a friend. Sip on water or nonfat milk instead of soda. Choose

salads and grilled foods, like a grilled chicken breast sandwich or small

hamburger. Try a “fresco” taco (with salsa instead of cheese or sauce) at taco

stands. Fried foods, like French fries and fried chicken, are high in fat and

calories, so order them only once in a while, order a small portion, or split an

order with a friend. Also, use only small amounts of high-fat, high-calorie

toppings, like regular mayonnaise, salad dressings, bacon, and cheese.

Myth: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Fact: Studies show that people who

skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the day tend to be heavier than people

who eat a healthy breakfast and eat four or five times a day. This may be

because people who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on, and eat more than

they normally would. It may also be that eating many small meals throughout the

day helps people control their appetites.

Tip: Eat small meals throughout the

day that include a variety of healthy, low-fat, low-calorie foods. For more

information about healthy eating, read the WIN brochure Healthy Eating

and Physical Activity Across Your Lifespan: Tips for


Myth: Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.

Fact: It does not matter what time

of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity

you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain

your weight. No matter when you eat, your body will store extra calories as


Tip: If you want to have a snack

before bedtime, think first about how many calories you have eaten that day. And

try to avoid snacking in front of the TV at night it may be easier to overeat

when you are distracted by the television.

Weight Loss Nutrition Myths  was originally published on

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