Top 10 diet fibs

Tom Fortune
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I only had a bite!
A British survey has found that women tell almost 500 lies about their dietary habits per year. Health & Wellbeing looks at the most common foodie fibs. How many are you guilty of?

"I always eat my five-a-day, limit alcohol to special occasions and only treat myself now and again." Do these sound like excuses you use to justify your dietary habits to yourself and your loved ones?

You're not the only one. A UK survey has found that women tell an average of 474 lies about their eating habits every year — or nine per week.

The research, commissioned by Timex, also listed the most common lies told by women to hide their poor lifestyle choices. Eating kids' leftovers, testing the dinner, claiming red wine is healthy and swearing you never eat fast food are just some of the frequently used excuses.

Women tend to lie most about chocolate, chips and cake, closely followed by sweets, cheese, bread, chips, burgers, wine and beer.

The pollsters also discovered that 28 percent of women have had a row with their partner that was triggered by their food lies. Meanwhile, 63 percent think lying about their food consumption is harmless, while 37 percent admit lying about their eating habits means they are just fooling themselves. Over 40 percent of women also said they lie to give the impression that they are into healthy eating.

Dr Cassandra Maximenko, a member of the research team, said: "This study proves we live in a nation of denial where image takes a higher priority than honesty and no one wants to be seen eating food they shouldn't, or even in larger quantities than is socially acceptable.

"Studies show that keeping a food diary can double weight loss but it seems that rather than being honest about the food and drink which passes our lips, many women are lying about it, or completely denying it altogether.

"But while this might save them some embarrassment in front of their partner or friends in the short term, it's not going to help them reach their health and weight loss goals in the future.

"By lying to their loved ones, women are also lying to themselves and could easily see their weight creep up."

We asked the experts for their views on the most common diet fibs.

"It was only a small portion"
Portion control has gone out of the window in this country, and we're all getting fatter as a result. Nutritionist Alison Duker, says: "Look to eat from a small plate to regulate portion size — our plate size has grown exponentially but using a small plate can trick the brain into thinking that you are eating enough even if it's smaller than normal. Protein portion size should be no bigger than the size of the palm of your hand. Carbohydrates, I recommend no larger than a tablespoon. You should aim to eat 50 percent green vegetables, 35 percent protein, 15 percent starchy carbohydrates."

"I'll have a big lunch so I won't eat much after this"
Consuming a mountain of calories at lunchtime and swearing off food for the rest of the day is the second most common diet lie told by women, according to the survey. As Duker says, it rarely works out that way. She says: "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. Our stomach acid is strongest in the morning and becomes more diluted throughout the day. This isn't necessarily the easiest way to eat with the modern way of living, but ideally it is best to avoid eating heavily in the evening as we have less of a chance to burn off the calories."

"I treat myself only once in a while"
Living a monastic lifestyle is a recipe for diet disaster, but, as the survey shows, many women are able to pass off their favourite snacks as 'treats', even if they indulge in them every day. Duker says: "A treat means different things to different people. If it's a couple of squares of dark chocolate then that isn't a problem. If it is a cream cake, then this could become less of a treat and more of a habit. Keep treats for the weekend or special occasions and share with as many people as possible!"

"I always eat my five-a-day"
We all know that we should be getting our five-a-day, but in reality few of us give our consumption of fruit and veg much thought — despite what we tell others... Nutritionist Katie Peck says: "Meeting fruit and vegetable intake is very important as these contain fibre for a healthy digestive system and valuable vitamins and phytonutrients that protect our cells against damage. Most people under- or over-report as they are unsure what a serving actually is."

"I didn't touch any of the biscuits"
Yes you did! The first step towards weight loss, as Peck points out, is being honest with yourself and others. "This is a justification, a quick comment that covers up actual behaviour. Many dieters are emotional eaters and therefore they may not want to disclose their true eating habits," she says.

"I only had one glass"
It's easy to remove calories from alcohol from your total daily intake — just pretend they aren't there! Many women eat well but keep drinking too much booze, then wonder why they can't lose weight. Keep a close eye on your consumption and read up on the calorie content of different drinks. Peck says: "Alcohol is liquid but high in calories; a small glass of wine contains around 85 calories. Habitual drinking can add up and contribute to weight gain, therefore keeping an accurate record and establishing what your actual intake is can be very enlightening."

"I didn't eat the last one"
Yes you did! (Again). Personal trainer Gavin Walsh says: "Unfortunately some people need a kick up the backside and if you've convinced yourself you didn't have the last one you're one of them. Get yourself a food diary and be honest!"

"I won't eat again today after this"
Promising to fast is a sign that you're on the wrong track with your diet plans, says Walsh. "There are benefits to a short-term fast, but this attitude won't help you in the long term and your health will suffer because it's a short-term fix that doesn't encourage healthy eating."

"I was too busy to have lunch"
Being too busy to eat features heavily on the list of the most common diet fibs, highlighting how easy it is for women to justify their dietary behaviour, even if it's not doing them any good. Walsh says: "In order to concentrate fully and be productive it's important that you have a healthy lunch and that means actually getting away from your desk. The break will do you good and you'll come back ready to do business."

"I might as well polish them off now or they'll go bad"
With so much cheap food available, it's inevitable that so many of us buy more than we need when we go to the supermarket. But you don't have to eat all of it, says Walsh. "We've been taught to finish everything on our plate, often by our parents, which does us no favours when it comes to the scales. Give the leftovers to someone else or simply don't buy so much next time," he says.

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