Nutrition Articles

6 Diet Rules Meant to be Broken

Out with the Old, in with the New

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Old rule: Always choose fat-free foods.
These days, nearly every full-fat food, from cookies to ice cream, has a fat-free counterpart. It's the first instinct of many people to simply eat these reduced fat foods to control their weight; however, this tactic could actually derail your good intentions. Why? Because most of the fat-free foods you can buy are things you shouldn't be eating anyway: empty-calorie junk food and heavily processed sweets, crackers and cookies. These items have been available for over a decade, but people aren't getting any thinner by eating them. Remember, dietary fat isn't the sole culprit that has made us overweight, excess calories are. Sure most of us could stand to cut back on our fat intake to a more reasonable level, but calories count when it comes to weight loss. All the reduced-fat foods in the world will not help you lose weight if you're making poor food choices or eating too many calories in general.

New rule: Include a moderate amount of heart-healthy fats in your weight loss plan.
Your body needs dietary fat for day-to-day organ protection, vitamin absorption, hormone production and more, so you won’t be doing yourself any favors by completely depriving yourself of this macronutrient. A sensible amount of fat can also aid in satiety, making you feel fuller longer. Try adding healthful fats such as nuts, avocado, or olive oil to your diet. Choose low-fat or fat-free products when it comes to dairy and meats to limit your intake of unhealthy fats and control calories, but leave the other fat-free foods on the supermarket shelf.

Old rule: You should burn every calorie you eat through exercise.
To lose weight, it's true that you need to burn more calories than you consume. But some people misinterpret this weight-loss equation, thinking they must burn off every calorie they eat—and then some—by exercising. Besides being inaccurate, this practice can be unsafe and lead to exhaustion, overuse injuries, and stalled weight-loss among other problems. Remember, your body is constantly burning calories throughout the day, even when you're not physically active. This is known as a basal metabolic rate (BMR), and it accounts for more than 1,200-1,500 calories per day (on average). Add to that all the calories you burn by moving, walking, standing, and yes, exercising, and you can see how easy it is to "burn more calories than you consume" without spending your life in the gym.
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  • For me, as a struggling binge eater, the evening cut-off time has nothing to do with fear of gaining or indigestion, it's more a personal reminder to stop eating mindlessly before bedtime, plus I like the feeling of an empty stomach in the mornings. - 7/17/2014 6:43:15 PM
  • This article is one of the reasons I need SparkPeople the most. I knew these myths many years ago and truly believed in living a balanced life (in all things). I also believed that if I listened to my body - it would tell me what it needed - then I started to listen to the myths. Just thinking about the "don't eat after 7PM". I was lactose intolerent as a child and when I stayed at Grandma's she always would have a bedtime snack, small piece of fruit or celery with peanut butter - great nights sleep were guaranteed. At home it was ice cream - I was always up roaming the house alone as a child. I have problems sleeping most of my adult life and have tried for numerous years to follow the rules like don't eat after 7pm. Recently I have been having a snack about hour before going to sleep. And guess what I have had a solid night's sleep everynight for 10 days -but 1. - 4/7/2014 7:40:22 AM
  • I'm pleased to see the advice about not eating after 7pm is dismissed by SP. I have sleep problems, but contrary to advice have found that when I sometimes eat a bowl of cereal or a banana not long before going to bed I have a better night's sleep. I don't do this every night, just when I've had a string of nights with bad dreams and wakefulness. - 10/26/2013 2:41:56 AM
  • I just eat smaller portion, drink plenty of water , exercise, 5 fruits and 5 veggies. It works for me. - 6/9/2013 10:35:07 AM
  • So much silliness still around about what to eat & when. Since Whole Grains are the second oldest food group known to man, Meat was first, how can anyone say we can't eat them?? Whole grains led to Civilization. Anyway, I get the meaning of the article - MODERATION & PORTION CONTROL people - you can eat anything you like & lose weight if you use moderation & portion control. And complex carbohydrates - whole grains, veggies & fruits as close to original as possible are VERY important to a healthy body!! - 1/20/2013 10:28:30 PM
  • SPARKLEMEUP2
    This is so true--I went from 276 to 165 by deleating all carbs from my diet--except a few crackers with meals--then of course I went back to 195--where I'm starting over again now..including the carbs I should have never taken from my diet--I did binge-big time..live and learn. - 1/13/2013 1:27:48 PM
  • Reading all these comments reminds me what is wrong with "dieting" in the first place. There is SO much contradictory stuff out there it could drive a person mad! Carbs are good, no carbs are bad. Fat is good, fat is bad. Only get your fat from animals, only from plants. There is NO winning. Its no wonder people just give up and keep doing what they've always been doing.

    I have to agree with the people who say moderation in all things. And it just so happens to be what my religion believes. If we truly followed this one thing, we'd all be a lot happier. Not too little food, not too much. You can have your favorite food-just moderate yourself. Exercise? Same thing there. Do a moderate amount-dont just sit on the couch thinking about doing it and don't kill yourself by doing three hours a day.

    Okay, Im through ranting...... - 1/13/2013 2:14:37 AM
  • http://scdlifesty
    le.com/2012/0
    3/the-gluten-
    free-lie-why-
    most-celiacs-
    are-slowly-dying/
    Interesting article about the danger behind Gluten Free Dieting - 1/11/2013 2:54:36 PM
  • I cant wait tell the no gluten fad is out of our society. One of the biggest myths around. Yes there are people who should not eat Gluten, those with an intolerance. BUT gluten DOESNOT make you gain weight. WHOLE GRAIN foods are very good for you and everything is good in moderation. Cut out the white flour, white pasta and white rice and switch to whole grains and you will see a difference. - 1/11/2013 2:46:18 PM
  • We don't need grains in our diet, that is outdated information pushed on us by Big Food. Becky Hand is behind the times; how many times do people have to remind SP of that? - 1/11/2013 2:20:08 PM
  • Great article, I would share it but I do not belong to any other social networking sites. - 1/11/2013 11:39:48 AM
  • CANUCKSFAN2
    The point of eating your favourite foods in moderation is to allow people to eat the foods they love without having to cut them out completely. Just because you can cut out those sort of foods completely doesn't mean that everybody else can, financially or otherwise. - 1/11/2013 10:54:55 AM
  • I'm so glad to see some real-world comments here, particularly about the need for sugar and starch in one's diet - there IS no need for sugar and starch in one's diet.

    Veggies and fruits are clearly good for you, whether they have a few carbs or not. Legumes and tubers are less good, but still have some value. Grains are not good for most people, particularly modern hybridized wheat strains. They are essentially empty calories, and are moderately addicting to boot.

    "Whole grains" are like filtered cigarettes. You're just kidding yourself that they're any healthier than their refined versions. Removing wheat from your diet results in almost immediate improvements in health for most people. - 1/11/2013 9:18:34 AM
  • The article was interesting and informative. What followed with the comments is exactly why I have fought tooth and nail to be "on a diet". Confusion reins it seems. Do this, don't do that. NEVER eat this, oh you must have some of that to balance your diet. It's almost impossible to know that what I'm eating or not eating is good for me. I guess the best thing to do is eat in moderation everything I like and watch the calories and exercise regularly.....and leave off reading what other people think is best. - 1/11/2013 8:32:15 AM
  • I like the idea of not mindlessly in the evening - 1/11/2013 5:17:15 AM

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