Social proofing

Often, I’m tagged in posts by people asking to disprove a fad diet that appears on the internet. One of the tags that caught my attention was from a school friend.

He had tagged me in the post where an influencer chap with a huge following was selling a method for weight loss. Called the 2mealday. The diet approach stated that for weight loss you should only eat two meals a day!

My friend had challenged this hogwash. Stating that the trainer’s method was omitting a meal to create a calorie deficit. The trainer, in his rebuttal, said that this was not the case! He responded by saying ‘If you were on a calorie restriction diet your body would change the way that your metabolism worked!’. He went on to say ‘if you are drip-feeding your body you won’t be able to lose fat’. It was at this point I intervened!

I asked the trainer what was the study/evidence he had developed this premise on. I also asked him about the comments he had made to my friend. Funny enough he didn’t want to discuss the issue on his social media page and asked me to message him.

I acquiesced to his request and we had a conversation. Which started off with him telling me that there was a study on his website to back up what he was saying. Now, this study I had not seen on any of the scientific literature sites. Which are subject to stringent reviews, peer reviews, and then they’re published on these sites. They are the most credible sources available!

He told me that the study was proof because it was an article published on the internet. He might as well have pulled the article from the Sun newspaper. There was no scientific backing to the article and it wasn’t featured on credible sites.

After some discussion, he admitted that a calorie restriction would reduce fat loss over time. But still claimed his method was superior. My hang-up with this there was no evidence to support his claim. Yet, he was resolute with his standpoint that it had to be two meals a day.

Then I asked him “do you have any qualifications in nutrition“ his response ‘none’. He said he was a coach with a ‘special interest in fasting’. And he had the backing of a qualified person who was part of his business.

He couldn’t see the obvious he was wholly consumed by his belief. That two meals a day is the best way. Despite the empirical evidence that shows that meal frequency is irrelevant.

It was evident that a lot of people had bought into his method due to his large following. This is something called social proofing. People trust or believe them because it is best to go along with the crowd. Rather than question the fact that the person with this following could be an idiot.

But the most important thing to take from this is that meal frequency and timing have no bearing on weight loss. As I tried to get through to the trainer, let’s call him Max.

The most important thing is adherence, sticking to your calorie target daily/weekly! It has to work for you, your diet is very personal, you have cultivated it over years. You like the foods you eat and you have them at the times that are convenient for you, it doesn’t have to be rigid for it to work! In fact, flexibility has been shown to increase adherence.











Feedback not failure

I could make out the police insignia through the window on one of the envelopes I picked up from the hallway floor. I had an idea what this this was going to be.

My suspicions were confirmed on opening said letter. A speeding offense.

I have the choice of 3 points on my license or speed awareness course. It’s like asking would you rather be shot or stabbed!?

As with everything the way I frame this is, as feedback, not failure, which is important. I haven’t failed at driving, I’ve received some feedback that I need to be more aware of variable speed limits.

I’ll call it exuberance, maybe I got a little over excited. This is what happens when you borrow a 6 litre Continental with circa 550 ponies under the hood.

Going forward I’m not going to make the same mistake again. This is feedback, not failure. And it is an important mindset.

Let’s take eating out. This is a scenario when people feel guilty about the food choices they make. You may eat things that you don’t usually eat or may eat more than is comfortable.

You may be thinking ‘I need more self control’. But do we have to sacrifice the foods that we enjoy? To claim that we have self-control?


Self-control failure comes from believing that there are consequences to our actions. Even if it is something minor. Let’s go with choosing chocolate instead of celery sticks.

If we eat one meal or several meals over the course of the day where you feel uncomfortable. If you believe you have broken some food rules. Or there are going to be serious consequences to your actions. Those can be perceived as a self-control failure.

If we don’t have those food rules and we give ourselves permission, you don’t break any rules. So you don’t have to deal with the guilt shame, frustration and anxiety. That come with breaking those self-imposed food rules.

You simply enjoy that food or meal and move on. Or if we don’t we use it as a learning opportunity and move on. Learning not failure! We don’t repeat those habits over and over again!

And if you do find yourself in that cycle of repeating those habits that are not in line with your goals. You can reach out to to a professional and find out why you might be doing that.