Mistakes Weight-Watchers Make

An article appeared in today’s Mind Your Body section of The Straits Times which listed down a number of mistakes that weight-watchers make. Of the seven mistakes they listed, here are the ones I personally found worth highlighting:

Weight watchers mistake #1: Underestimating how much you have eaten — the newspaper quoted a study by Dr Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, that found that people who went for the “supersize” or (in Singapore) “Up-sized” portions of fast-food meals tended to underestimate the amount of calories they were consuming by more than half.

The thing is, so much literature on the nutritional value of food (and their caloric values) is focused on a small subset of the world’s available food: namely western cuisine (and even then we’re mostly only enlightened on fast-food, a sub-subset of this). What happens is that even though many of us Singaporeans know fast-food is bad for us, we’re still ignorant about the host of other delicious local food available everywhere. Chicken rice, roti prata, nasi lemak — oh, sedap! — do we really know how many calories we’re consuming?

Weight-watchers mistake #2: Overestimating the calorie-reducing effects of exercise — I must admit, I’m guilty of this one. Exercise doesn’t consume as many calories as we often think it does. If walking up the stairs seems difficult, it’s often not so much a sign of that we are burning many calories as it is a sign of our deplorable fitness levels. Many people who exercise tend to think they are “entitled” to eat additional calories for the day, often eating more than they used for their exercise. What’s even worse, exercise tends to make you hungry, causing you to eat even more.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for exercise. Exercise can help you burn calories hours after you’d stop. And by doing strength-training, those muscles you build will help consume many more calories than your fat does.

Weight-watchers mistake #3: Eating too many different foods — the more variety the food in front of you contains, the more you will tend to eat. It’ easy to underestimate how much you’ve eaten when all you’ve had is a “little” of each. A little bit of everything, when everything is a lot, is still a lot.

Weight-watchers mistake #4: Not weighing yourself often enough — it seems that people who weigh themselves every day lose more weight than those who don’t, at least according to Dr George L., author of Break Through Your Set Point. The reason given is that “people who watch their weight are more likely to closely monitor their eating and exercise behaviours and regain control of their diets quickly if they gain weight.”

I hope you find this list of mistakes weight-watchers make useful. Pass it on if you do, here’s the shortlink: http://wp.me/pmxz-qW

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