DR. WALLACE: In an effort to lose weight, I’ve started to skip breakfast and lunch in place of eating a really big evening meal. I’ve found that even though it is hard to not eat very much during the morning and afternoon, it saves me from consuming a lot of calories throughout the day. This way, I’m able to eat whatever I want for dinner while still staying below my recommended daily calorie intake.
I really like my new diet because it allows me to use all of my daily calories toward dinner, meaning I can eat my favorite “junk” foods at night and still not surpass my recommended calorie intake. My mom has been telling me, however, that this is a really unhealthy way to approach dieting, and that it will only move me in the opposite direction of my weight loss goals. She is adamant that I should be eating three meals a day, but that each of them should be healthy and small. This would force me to completely cut out all of my favorite fast foods though, and I’d rather eat one delicious meal per day than three bland and tasteless ones. Is following my new diet really that bad of an idea? — Calorie Counter, via email
CALORIE COUNTER: I’m reluctant to call your current eating regime a “diet” because diets typically aim to promote health (although many fall short), and what you’re doing right now sounds extremely unhealthy. I am not a nutritionist, but I’m quite certain that not surpassing your recommended calorie intake has no health benefits if the quality of the calories you are consuming is poor. It sounds as though you are starving yourself throughout the day in order to not feel guilty about indulging in junk food at night, and your mother is right that this will ultimately cause your body more harm than good.
If you’re serious about getting your health intact and losing weight, I would recommend meeting with a professional nutritionist and obtaining their advice firsthand. There is a lot of contradictory information to be found online about what is and is not healthy, and so rather than entangle yourself in the confusion, I believe it would be best for you to seek direct professional advice. A nutritionist will be able to provide you with far more detailed and accurate information about dieting, but I am certain that refraining from eating fast food will be part of their counsel.
DR. WALLACE: I’m a pretty good student, but I know for sure that I have one major flaw that slows me down and even holds me back.
My challenge is that I don’t do well when it comes to dealing with my mistakes and failures. When I do make mistakes, I feel like I am inapt, and I quickly become paralyzed and stuck on how to not make similar mistakes in the future. I find that I dwell more on my failures than I do on my successes.
Is this normal? And is there anything I can do about it? — Frozen by My Failures, via email
FROZEN BY MY FAILURES: There is absolutely something you can do about it! There is an old fable about making errors being human but forgiving those errors being divine. The very first thing you should do is to forgive yourself since you didn’t make your mistakes intentionally. Realize that you’re human and the human condition means we will always be imperfect, but we always have the ability to learn from our mistakes and to work hard to improve ourselves going forward into the future.
I suggest that you find a trusted teacher, counselor or fellow student to talk this matter over with. Find a person you’ll feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with. What you may need more than anything at this point is simple encouragement and reinforcement of all the good things that you do on an ongoing basis. Sometimes hearing the simple words “good job” releases endorphins and helps an individual to feel more positive and ebullient going forward.
Seek to learn from mistakes so that you can receive value from those experiences. Apply your lessons and do better the next time. I truly feel that your situation is far more common than you realize, and once you discuss this with others, especially those you trust who will encourage you, you’ll soon be feeling stronger and better by the day going forward.