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Feature Articles: Weight Control


Weight Control Myths

Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition Specialist, Cass County,
University of Missouri Extension


We’ve all heard those quick little tips, like fill up on water before you go to a party or use sugar-free foods to save calories. Do these promoted tips really work or are they simply myths?

woman with apple and chocolate bar image

Fill up on water before a big party.
Water satisfies thirst, not hunger. While water may fill the stomach, you’ll still feel hungry. Instead of water, try drinking a thicker drink, like a vegetable cocktail (V-8 juice) or milk-based beverage to help fill you up quicker. Another tip is to eat a broth-based soup before starting other foods.

One drink won’t hurt.
Alcohol and the holidays go together at many holiday celebrations. Alcohol is empty calories that is calories with no nutrients. Alcohol is calorie rich, and to make it worse, alcohol lowers your healthy inhibitions encouraging people to eat more when drinking.

Using fat-free and sugar-free foods lets me eat all I want.
Fat-free and sugar-free doesn’t mean calorie-free, check nutrition labels carefully -- these products don’t give you a license to eat more! Remember that you’re trying to save calories, so overeating reduced calorie products can create pounds of weight also.

I’ll skip breakfast and lunch so I can eat at the party.
Skipping meals slows the metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Also, skipping meals may make you so hungry that you overeat at the party!

Don’t eat after 8:00 at night. While it’s normal that the metabolism slows during the early morning hours while you sleep, when you eat is not as critical as the quality and amount of food you choose. Eating later at night is not always a good idea because we tend to choose munchies that are high calorie and leads to mindless-nibbling. It’s also very easy to get into the night snacking habit.

I’m addicted to chocolate! While chocolate may contain a psychoactive ingredient, there is an extremely low level – certainly not enough to create an addiction. What we do crave is the sensory experience we get with chocolate. We desire the flavor and smell of chocolate. Eating any good-tasting food can create a desire to repeat the experience.

I eat less at parties because I have lots of people to visit with.
Adults do what they see at holiday parties…eat! We tend to eat 50% more food when eating with friends! Focus on how much you’ve eaten and have those lively conversations in a room that doesn’t have food.

Exercise makes me hungry. Physical activity actually regulates your feeling of fullness and hunger. Exercise should suppress appetite and retain muscle mass; and muscle burns calories. So during the holiday season, make sure you keep walking and strength training.




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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