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The beginning of a new year often inspires us to make resolutions, and one of the most common goals is improving health and fitness. Midlife and menopause is an important time to look at our health, as key shifts start to occur in our metabolic and cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, the vast amount of information available can lead to confusion and the perpetuation of diet myths. In this article, I will debunk some of these myths and provide practical tips for setting and achieving healthy resolutions.

Myth 1: Calorie Restriction alone leads to sustainable weight loss.

Not all calories are equal. Whilst simply restricting calories may result in rapid initial weight loss, it is not a viable long-term solution. Such diets often deprive the body of essential nutrients and can have negative effects on metabolism, making it harder to maintain weight loss in the future. After the initial weighloss, our bodies go into survival mode, hanging on to body fat and eventually gaining back the weight we’ve lost.

Choosing our calories carefully (cutting out refined carbohydates, and processed foods) and increasing how much we move, will lead to more sustainable weightloss. Aiming to reach a healthy weight over a period of 6 months gives our bodies time to adjust to the new norm, and the ability to sustain long term health.

Myth 2: Carbohydrates Are the Enemy

Carbohydrates often get a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide essential nutrients, fiber, and energy. It is highly beneficial to include these types of carbohydrates in your diet. The key is to focus on complex carbohydrates and avoid or limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread, sugary drinks, and processed snacks.

Complex carbohydrates, ideally consumed in combination with healthy fats and protein, balances our blood sugars, keeps away cravings and stops the blood sugar dips that affect our mood and energy.

Myth 3: Fat-Free Means Healthy

The myth that all fat is bad has been debunked. Infact the labels ‘fat-free’ or ‘low fat’ on a supermarket product usually does not mean healthier. Fat-free products often contain high amounts of sugar, artificial additives, or other ingredients to improve the taste once the fat has been removed, resulting in a product unhealhier than in its original form.

It’s important to include healthy fats in your diet. Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil, are essential for brain function, hormone production, and the absorption of certain vitamins. Although it’s true that excessive intake of saturated fat is harmful, those in fermented dairy (hard cheeses, yoghurt), do not increase our ‘bad’ cholesterol and are good for us in moderation.

Myth 4: Skipping Meals Is an Effective Strategy

Some people believe that skipping meals is an effective way to lose weight. However, this approach often leads to overeating later in the day, as well as a drop in energy levels and difficulty concentrating. Instead of skipping meals, opt for regular, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. This approach helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps hunger at bay, making it easier to make healthier food choices.

Setting Resolutions Right

Now that we’ve cleared up some common diet myths, let’s focus on setting resolutions that are realistic and achievable. Here are some tips to guide you:

  1. Set specific goals: Instead of making vague resolutions like “lose weight,” set specific, measurable goals such as “exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week” or “eat five servings of vegetables daily.”
  2. Gradual changes: Trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle overnight is overwhelming. Instead, make small, sustainable changes over time. Start by incorporating one healthy habit and build on it once it becomes a part of your routine.
  3. Seek professional guidance: If you’re uncertain about the right approach for your health and nutrition goals, consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist. They can provide personalized advice based on your individual needs and help you create a plan that works for you.
  4. Focus on overall wellness: Instead of solely fixating on weight loss, shift your focus to overall well-being. Emphasize nourishing your body with wholesome foods, staying physically active, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep.

As you embark on your journey to improve your health and fitness, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction. By debunking diet myths and adopting realistic resolutions, you can set yourself up for long-term success. Remember, sustainable changes to your lifestyle and eating habits are key to achieving and maintaining a healthy body and mind.

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