But I Don't Eat That Much

Many people think that they don’t really eat that much. How could they possibly be that overweight? They say they eat very little and swear up and down that this is true. Well it’s not that they are lying; just mistaken. This is a very common delusion in our very well fed country. People look around and see everyone eating the same amount and think that that must be O.K.

I know that this concept is true both from personal experience and from my patients.

My personal experience with weight loss happened a few years ago right before I got married. I am not a big person. I have a small frame and a good weight for me is in the 120s. I was 155, the heaviest I had ever been. I decided I needed to lose weight for the wedding and just for better health. So I started to exercise like crazy. I was jogging 3 to 4 times a week and working out at the gym on bikes and with weights. I figured my diet was pretty good and I did not really eat too much. But weeks went by and I could not budge from 150. It was frustrating. All this work and no weight loss! So then I decided to put myself on the same calorie restriction diet I put my patients on. I required a 1300 cal diet to loose weight. The first thing I noticed was that 1300 calories was not very much food. The second thing I noticed was that I was hungry on this diet. And the third thing I noticed was “gosh I had been eating about 2000 calories or more per day”. No wonder I could not lose weight. Then the final thing I noticed was, Ah, I am finally loosing weight on this diet. I stuck to the diet pretty well and lost 10 pounds in one month.

My patients have shown me that most people do not think they are overeating. Many of them say that and then when put on a calorie restriction diet, they say they are hungry all the time and there is not enough food for them on this diet. Also, there was a prepared diet take out caterer in the area that I have sent a lot of patients to, especially if they failed trying to diet on their own. I would put them on this diet to prove to them that it is the calorie amounts that is causing them to gain weight and not be able to lose. Every patient that did this pre-prepared diet plan lost the appropriate amount of weight. But the comments I heard were “Doctor, the portion sizes are so small” and “I am hungry on this diet” And unfortunately once they stopped the diet plan, they reverted to their old eating habits and gained all the weight back. What a waste of money! I only hope that they will keep trying and realize they do have the control to lose the weight.

Some people skip meals or eat small amounts throughout the day but forget that they make up for the whole day calorie-wise at dinner. So that pattern of eating leads them to think that they don’t eat much. But the skimpy eating throughout the day will not cause weight loss as long as you are binging at dinner. Also, this pattern of eating causes one to be ravenous by dinner and overeat. And as you will see in a later chapter, skipping meals actually causes weight gain.

But my main point is, many people that are overweight do not think they are overeating. One of the biggest steps in weight loss is realizing that overeating is occurring. It is much easier to lose weight once you realize this.

Studies on dieticians have shown that dieticians underestimate their calorie consumption by about 25%. So if a dietician who is an expert at diet and calorie counting cannot estimate calories correctly, how can an average person do it?