I love busting diet and food myths. There's just so much misinformation about diets, nutrition, and food floating around, it's enough to make your head spin.
Have you ever heard, "Don't eat after (insert hour) because it will make you fat."?
If you have ever struggled with weight, I'm sure that you have. It's like gospel repeated over and over in differing variations. "Calories eaten at night are more fattening than those eaten early in the day," tout the experts.
For years I bought into this hogwash and always felt bad about having dinner after 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM.
After all the "dietary experts" know what they're talking about, right?
I first began to doubt this "dietary dining hour wisdom" on my first trip to Paris, more than a decade ago. I found myself in casual bistros late into the evening enjoying amazing food, surrounded by svelte Parisian diners, sipping wine and digging into earthenware pots of hearty cassoulet or plates of steak frites.
If eating late at night makes you fat, the French certainly hadn't gotten the message. Here they were eating late night after night looking slim and trim.
It turns out my instincts were right. According to Dr. John Foreyt, Director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, "Calories are calories are calories, and it doesn't matter what time you eat them. What matters are the total calories you take in."
There's no truth to this long held and safeguarded food myth. Calories don't know how to tell time. It's the total amount of food you are eating, not the time of day or night, that determines weight gain.
This totally supports my experience. We often eat dinner at the very end of our day; rarely before 7:00 PM and often after 8:00 PM. By the time we have dinner, visit with each other for a bit, and clean up the kitchen, it's time to relax a little before getting ready for bed. We've been doing this for years, with no negative repercussions. I'm at my Weight Watchers goal weight. I'm happy and I'm guilt-free.
I think it's important to always be on the lookout for food and nutrition myths that may be impeding your progress. Take the "expert" advice with a grain of salt, because it could change tomorrow. Remember to challenge the myths and test what works and what doesn't for yourself. Everyone is different and nobody knows what is best for you better than you!
What diet or food myths have you busted to bits?
If you liked this Busting Diet Myths post, check out these other links:
- My post on managing your portions
- My post on watching the number of calories you drink
- My post on letting go of 4 common dietary food myths based on the work and writing of Marc David
- An article from Eating Well that busts the 13 biggest food and nutrition myths
- An article from Real Simple on Busting 10 Diet Myths
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We eat at 7 p.m. and have for years because of family scheduling. It works for us. Now, the late-night snacking adds pounds - just because we're still eating!
Yes, Claudia, when you continue to eat and take in more calories after your daily allowance is met and don't somehow burn it off, you will gain weight. The wonderful thing about having dinner late, is that I'm fast asleep long before the urge to snack ever strikes!