Episode 82: The Offset Fallacy
On this episode of the Weight Loss for Food-Lovers podcast, Molly introduces us to the idea of the offset fallacy. Even if you’ve never heard of the offset fallacy before, you’ve probably believed it at one time or another in your life. Molly describes the offset fallacy as the idea that we can “offset” or justify overeating or overdrinking by exercising more or depriving ourselves of food. Ultimately this idea is not true and simply allows our brain to thrive on justifications and excuses for habits of overeating.
The key to recognizing and combating the offset fallacy in your own life when it comes to food is to start recognizing if you actual believe it, consciously or unconsciously. Is that practice working for you, or are you simply continuing a pattern of disordered eating? Molly believes you can lose weight and not feel overly hungry or deprived, but it’s not about exercising more or finding some magic bullet that will allow us to eat everything we want and still lose weight.
The heart of sustainable weight loss that still allows you to eat and enjoy good food is eating just enough to be satisfied. It’s through eating enough to be satisfied that you’ll be able to lose weight and lose it sustainably. When you learn the mindset of not overeating it’s like riding a bike—there’s no way to unlearn it, and you don’t have to worry about “failing” or gaining the weight back. The offset fallacy is an idea we need to erase from our weight loss journey, instead eating for weight loss is all about that relationship with ourselves and knowing we can follow through on the commitments we make to achieve our goals.
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Introduction of the offset fallacy
Molly discovered the concept in Peter Kaminsky’s book, Culinary Intelligence.
The offset fallacy talks about how we can “offset” eating more by exercising more, or offset a day of heavier eating by a day of undereating. This is something many of us have believed to be true, but it’s actually false.
The primitive brain thrives on justifications and excuses.
Exercise on its own is not necessary for weight loss, and it can actually be harmful for weight loss.
When we believe we can offset eating through exercise, we get into a habit of overeating rather than connecting to our bodies.
It doesn’t matter what kind of food you’re eating, if you’re eating more than you need to, you’re overeating.
Unless you’re exercising at an elite athlete level, there’s no need to eat more just because you’re exercising.
When you’re not doing intense exercise, your body is able to focus just on losing weight. Exercise is a stressor on your body, that’s why you’re usually hungrier when you exercise.
Start recognizing if you believe you can offset overeating by exercising. Is it working for you to do that?
The offset fallacy reinforces the sense of entitlement around food.
So many of us feel entitled to overeat because of the society we live in—it’s marketed by the food industry.
If you’re not losing weight, if you’re not able to maintain your weight, then that amount of food is not appropriate for your ideal size.
You can lose the weight and not feel excessively hungry or deprived, but you have to know what to eat to get your body adapted.
Molly recently started exercising again, but not to lose weight.
Ultimately managing overeating is about creating the ideal relationship with yourself so that you become somebody who follows through with commitments you make to yourself.
Many of us want a magic bullet that allows us to lose weight and still eat a lot.
There is a way to still enjoy good food and alcohol, while being at your ideal weight, but it doesn’t involve any tricks, gimmicks, or offset techniques. Those things are not sustainable.
When you learn the mindset piece of not overeating, there’s no way to unlearn it.
The heart of it is: eating just enough to be satisfied to get to your goal weight
When we believe in the offset fallacy, exercise becomes a punishment.
Exercise apps and trackers lead to disordered eating.
The Weight Loss for Food-Lovers course opens soon, you can join at mollyzemek.com.
“While exercise is really great for health, exercise on its own is not necessary for weight loss.”