Sugar as a Diet Food and Other Very Bad Weight Loss Advice

This past week for Valentine’s Day, John told me that he wanted no candy. None, not even a small piece of dark chocolate. So, being the agreeable wife that I sometimes am, I got him some nuts, some dried fruit, and a vintage copy of the 1968 Christmas issue of Better Homes and Garden magazine. Among the many funny ads for disgusting looking cupcakes made from dream whip and Jello molds of all kinds, John found this fascinating ad.

The ad recommends eating a little sugar to help control your appetite and lose weight at the same time. I found this very funny and interesting because current theories recommend exactly the opposite. This ad says that sugar helps you control your willpower. Really? This bad weight loss advice from the 1960’s is just one in the long line of unfortunate advice that too many people followed.

And in case you couldn’t see it, the small print at the bottom of the advertisement invites the reader to send for a diet book featuring recipes made with sugar!

Can you imagine recommending that someone eat a spoonful of sugar or sugar-filled recipes to help control their appetite and lose weight? These days people would most likely laugh at you.

Bad weight loss advice wasn’t limited to the 1960’s. I’ve gotten my share of bad weight loss advice over the years too.

Here are three pieces of bad weight loss advice I’ve heard over the years.

  1. Never eat after 7:00 p.m. because you can’t burn those calories.
  2. Chew your foods until they are completely liquid and you will not be able to eat very much.
  3. Avoid carbs completely because all carbs make you fat.

I would love for you to share a piece or two of bad weight loss advice that you’ve heard throughout the years. Who knows – you may be able to keep someone from making a mistake. Diane




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  1. Oh wow! Now that is bad advice :)
    The bad advice I got before I knew better, is to have 3 big meals per day without any snacks inbetween.
    blackhuff recently posted…Random me FridayMy Profile

    • I’ve heard so many variations on how to eat to lose weight. I know some people who really can’t control their snacks, and do eat just three meals. Not big ones though!

  2. I’ve seen my mother make about every diet mistake there is to be made… liquid diets (pseudo-milkshakes), one-food-only diets, drinking incredibly disgusting stuff (I don’t even remember the name), pills, … in the end, she had a lap band, and has been suffering the consequences ever since.

    The worst I have heard in terms of diet/food advice was someone telling me how “bad” honeys was because it had the same amount of calories as white sugar. To which I said, “But what about all the additional good stuff in honey?”
    Diandra recently posted…Quick updateMy Profile

  3. (Saw your note, you are welcome to link to my see it one time on the scale note or any other post any time you like. )

    I am not sure I am remembering which product correctly, so I will not mention a brand name. But one of the long time use ‘diet shakes’ that is billed to help control hunger, (in 2007 when I looked at a package, might have changed since then) lists SUGAR as the first ingredient on the content list. So basically the same idea as your old time add, but packaged. This product has been around for a long, long time.
    vickie recently posted…I need someone in my life who will say ‘that is immature thinking’, and be correct when she says it.My Profile

    • I think I know which one you are talking about. Those diet shakes are not good. I don’t know anyone who has lost anything but money by using those things. And thanks for the link okay. I’m probably going to do it next week.

  4. Bad advice in the 80s – eat all the carbs as long as there is no fat. Snackwells for everyone!!
    Lori recently posted…Eating discipline is hardMy Profile

  5. Don’t eat fruit because it has too much sugar. What?!?! And these same people that shun ‘bad’ fruit are drinking soda, eating fast food and desserts. Also the whole no-carb thing drives me crazy. I think some people are too concerned with being skinny and not concerned enough with health.
    Marie@feedingfive recently posted…The Boy is MineMy Profile

    • Good point about that. What sense does it make to avoid fruit but still eat other high-sugar junk? I am not a fan of no-carb dieting either. I’ve never met anyone who could sustain it long term. Well, I’ve maybe met a couple of people but not many!

  6. One of my favorite sayings is “for every expert, there’s an equal and opposite expert.” And this is precisely why I believe in finding one’s own way. For some people? Having a little sugar may very well work…for others, it may be a little fat or protein! But those who want to sell diets and plans and programs? They don’t want us to figure it out for ourselves! And not only that, most people don’t want to figure it out for themselves…they want a quick miracle solution, and there are plenty of companies who want to sell it to them!
    KCLAnderson (Karen) recently posted…OUR Words Create OUR Reality: My Thoughts And Observations On Transformation RoadMy Profile

  7. I remember being told not to have carrots because they have too much sugar. HUH? Any diet that tells me not to eat certain fruits or veggies does not get my vote of confidence.
    Amy recently posted…I’m so excited!My Profile

    • Me neither. And like Marie said, often times those people who say “don’t eat carrots” are still having other sugary junk foods on occasion. Doesn’t make much sense.

  8. Oh wow, I can sum it up in one word: Snackwells.

    Amanda recently posted…I Am Officially the Mother of a TeenagerMy Profile

  9. Have you heard anything about coconut palm sugar? Your post made me think of it. I just saw it on Dr. Oz; he was recommending it as a sugar substitute. Made me curious. Not that I use sugar often, but sometimes. And it would be nice to have something to replace brown sugar with; there are many more options for white sugar “fakes.”
    Karen@WaistingTime recently posted…The Sprats Got Nothing On UsMy Profile

  10. Definitely the eat all the grains you want as long as you eat little to not fat.
    Siobhan recently posted…I did find out …My Profile

  11. For me, it was in the 90’s when everything was low calorie and, obviously, healthier for you. I gave into that one sooo bad. Now I look for real ingredients and stick to whole foods as much as possible!
    Maureen recently posted…So Much To SayMy Profile

    • The packaging on those low-calorie foods seemed to promise that by eating the food you would automatically lose weight. While I believe that it is important to lose weight by reducing calories, you’ve got to be an informed consumer.

  12. The unfortunately very popular Master Cleanse uses oil and sugar with the same claim today.

  13. I LOVE reading old magazines and cookbooks…they’re facinating. I’ve heard a tsp of sugar gets rid of hiccups, but never that it suppresses appetites. Crazy!!! Someone I worked with only ate fruit and drank diet soda before 3:00pm….she was sure it sped up her metabolism and was trying to “convert” the rest of us to her eating plan. thank you! Have a wonderful Friday Diane.
    Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted…Ordinary ThursdayMy Profile

    • They are fascinating. John loves Christmas and vintage so that magazine was a natural gift for him. Your co-worked probably didn’t lose much weight doing that I bet. I hope you had a good weekend.

  14. Oh my goodness!! Isn’t that something else. How cool that you found that ad!! For me personally, sugar is what sends me craving. If I eat anything with more than 4 grams of sugar I can be absolutely guaranteed to crave like crazy for the next few days. Once I figured this out it made my life so much easier. Sometimes I will get a hold of something that has hidden sugar in it that I didn’t know about but my body lets me know right away! I can tell from how I react and how suddenly I’m hungry more often. Bacon is tricky like this. Some bacons don’t post how much sugar is there of if there is any. I have to be really careful with that.

    • You bring up a good point about sugar consumption revving up your craving for more. I find that I have to be very careful – even after all these years of maintenance.

  15. So with you on those 3 points!!! I have to think too far back on bad weight loss advice & my memory will not go that far! ;-)

    For me, it was my own doing – eating too little – too few calories. Not eating enough protein. Not eating enough healthy fats. I have learned from my mistakes! :-)
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Tune in to Attune Foods Cereals! Happy BdayMy Profile

  16. One of the worst pieces of diet advice that I ever received was from a weight watcher leader. She frequently told us not to exercise while losing weight, because that would harden the fat on our bodies. I followed her advice, and lost 70 pounds (1974), but it didn’t stay off. I was also starving and lost a lot of hair. So–all in all, it was pretty bad and unhealthy advice!

  17. These days the ad would have to include something back how it was sponsored by the National Sugar Growers council (or one of the many other pro-sugar lobby groups) – and they would have to spell out what type of sugar: cane, corn, syrup, beet, coconut, date??????

    Worse diet advice I have received:
    1. If you crave ice cream sundaes have three a day for the next three days, with a salad and a piece of protein in between – and after three days you will not want to have the sundaes again for a long time. Still laughing my former ass off over that one. Oh, yeah, I tried it. I ot sick of sundaes – for about two days and then I wanted them again. It didn’t work with chocolate cake either.
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