1. Healthy eating means adhering to a strict regimen.

What is healthy eating? I think it depends on whom you ask. Healthy eating, to me, is choosing and eating healthier food choices most of the time, while still having room for some treats. Healthy eating isn’t meant to be strict. If it were overly strict, we would have a hard to adhering to such a rigid regimen. Multiple studies have shown that dieters following a calorie restricted diet were more likely to quit compared with those who weren’t. A 2009 study found that women had the highest drop-out rate, with 30% dropping out after only 6 months.

portion sizes

  1. You have to starve yourself to lose weight.

Weight loss has long been thought to be a product of eating less and moving more. Times have changed, and so has the science. The concept map for weight loss looks like London’s Tube map gone haywire; that is, it is a mix of links and connections between various components of the body’s physiology, such as hormones and the brain’s neurotransmitters. But, the myth of eating less to the point of significant calorie reduction continues. Science has found that while initial calorie reduction does result in weight loss in the short-term, the sustainability of it is extremely poor (Reference found here). Since these calorie-restricted diets are usually a significant change to one’s usual diet or eating pattern, they are difficult to stick to in the long run (see #1). I often ask patients what one thing they’d be willing to do differently in their diet, be it, eating more vegetables, eating lunch, having more fibre at breakfast, etc. Start with a small, more manageable change to your eating, and you’ll likely be more successful.


  1. You must drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Water drinking is a contentious issue. The notion that we must drink 8 glasses of water a day is a rough estimate at best. Water intake is highly individual and is dependent on what you are doing throughout the day, including exercise. But, I think it makes more sense to talk about fluids versus water. All of our day’s fluids don’t need to be consumed as water. While water is a zero-calorie, healthy fluid needed for the proper functioning of our body, there are other fluids that can be included, such as coffee, tea (without all the extra add-ons like cream, syrups, etc.), milk (dairy or non-dairy), carbonated waters or seltzers, and even soups (less so the canned varieties). We generally recommend approximately 9 cups a day (2.2L) for women and men should aim for about 12 cups/day (3L). Dehydration can occur before you realize it and experience symptoms. This becomes more pronounced as we age, when our thirst sensation decreases. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have kidney disease, for example, your fluid needs will need to be adjusted. Overall, keep fluids available throughout the day, including them with meals, with exercise or whenever you can.




Dietitians of Canada. (2009). Guidelines for Drinking Fluids to Stay Hydrated.

Greenberg, I. et al. (2009). Adherence and Success in Long-Term Weight Loss Diets: The Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial (DIRECT). Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 28(2): 159-168.

Jeffery, R. (2000). Long-term maintenance of weight loss: Current status. Health Psychology. 19(1 suppl): 5-16.


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