Ignore These Diet ‘Rules’

Some rules were meant to be broken, including any that promote unhealthy or unsuccessful modes of weight loss.

If you’ve been trying to lose extra pounds without success, you may want to take a look at the diet rules you’ve taken to heart. If you’re eating according to outdated or untrue dietary commandments, all your efforts could be in vain.

To turn things around, note these eight so-called diet rules and change your ways if you’ve been following the wrong path.

Bailing out too early

Myth: If I eat one high-calorie food, I might as well give up and abandon my diet.

Fact: An occasional splurge won’t derail a healthy eating plan, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) says. By keeping an eye on the big picture—that it takes an extra 3,500 calories to gain a pound—you’ll realize eating one 300-calorie piece of cake or bowl of ice cream isn’t enough to hurt your waistline.

All or nothing

Myth: To maintain a healthful weight, I can never have another doughnut, piece of cherry pie, or bowl of ice cream.

Fact: If you budget your calories, there’s room in almost every diet plan for indulgent treats. For example, if you want to splurge on a piece of birthday cake someone brought to work, eat a lighter lunch.

At the end of the day or week, it’s the total calories you consume that determine if you’ll lose, gain, or maintain weight, not what you eat at one particular meal, the AND says.

Fat is better

Myth: High-fat foods keep you feeling full longer, so you’re more likely to eat less.

Fact: Research shows fat takes longer to digest but isn’t likely to satisfy hunger, the AND says. Instead, the foods more likely to make you feel full are complex carbohydrates, including high-fiber vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, such as brown rice.

Toss the bread basket

Myth: Bread and pasta are fattening and should be avoided.

Fact: Eaten in reasonable portions, these foods are no more fattening than any other food with the same number of calories.

Clean it up

Myth: You should eat everything on your plate.

Fact: Being a member of the clean-plate club won’t win you any gold stars or help feed hungry children in another part of the world. If you have any guilt feelings about leaving food on your plate, take some proactive steps to deal with hunger, such as making a regular donation to a worthy charity.

Go low-carb wild

Myth: I can eat as many low-carb foods as I like and not gain weight.

Fact: Weight gain isn’t about carbs, it’s about calories, the AND says. The low-carb diet craze has led many Americans to believe if they eat low-carb foods, calories don’t matter. The fact is, many low-carb foods, such as cheese and meat, are high in calories and can contribute to weight gain.

Losing with low-fat

Myth: Low-fat foods—in any amount—will help me lose weight.

Fact: Whether you eat too much high-fat food or too much low-fat food, you’ll still gain weight if you consume more calories than you need daily.

Fewer choices is better

Myth: The more restrictive the diet, the more weight I’ll lose.

Fact: Studies show restrictive diets are likely to be abandoned, the AND says. For long-term success, find an eating plan you can live with and that can become the “new normal” for you, not a diet you’ll go on and off.

And don’t forget to add a helping of exercise to your day. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days is an essential part of any weight-loss plan.