Despite about one-third of Americans being overweight, there’s no shortage of diet advice available, especially on the Internet. Some of it is just plain bad. Some of it is completely outrageous.
On Pinterest, I saw a “Lose 30 pounds in one month” diet, which I’m pretty sure must involve something like amputating a limb. If people didn’t still fall for that stuff, it wouldn’t be out there.
I’m a questioner with no tendency to believe anything I read. Others tend to trust what they see in print. Wherever you fall along that spectrum, here is a list of diet advice that you should definitely not take!
Seriously? Assuming the party is going to have tantalizing foods, this is a terrible idea. Most people are overweight because they eat too much. Walking into a party with lots of yummy things is no less tempting because you’ve already eaten and makes it more likely that you’ll end up overeating.
Instead: Go to a party with a good appetite, but not so hungry that you aren’t discerning about what you eat. Find what looks good, and take a reasonable amount of those foods. Balance unhealthy choices with healthier ones. Read more about how to enjoy parties without gaining weight here.
A good breakfast is wonderful – if you’re hungry. Our bodies have this amazing ability to tell us when to eat and when to stop, but only if we listen. We only need food when we are hungry, so if you aren’t hungry at breakfast time and you eat anyway, your body will store those calories as fat.
Instead: Eat breakfast if and when you’re hungry in the morning. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat until you are. If you think you’ll become hungry at a time when you won’t have access to a meal, bring a healthy snack, like nuts or cheese.
Someone once told me that we burn more calories eating celery than the celery has so it is okay to eat as much as you want. So how much celery do you actually want to eat? It is never a good idea to eat an unlimited amount of anything. You should always respect your body’s signals and stop eating before your stomach is distended by food.
Instead: Your body will tell you how much food it needs. Stop eating before you feel full. Eat a variety of foods.
Some say you’ll lose weight and be healthier if you don’t eat gluten. However, the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston has said that unless you are one of a very small percentage of the population who is sensitive to gluten, you will derive no benefit from giving it up, and you may actually end up consuming a less healthy diet.
There is no medical evidence that omitting gluten from your diet will help you lose weight. Because whole grains are a major source of fiber, some people become constipated upon giving up gluten. Others develop dietary deficiencies because so many gluten-free foods are heavily processed and comprised of things with low or no nutritional value, like xanthan gum, tapioca and white rice flour.
Instead: Seek the advice of your doctor before deciding to omit nutritious whole grains like wheat, rye and oats from your diet.
Fifty years ago, the sugar industry funded research and bribed scientists to downplay the risks of sugar and highlight the hazards of eating fat. This actually contributed to obesity and heart disease. When people eat less fat, they tend to get hungry sooner and eat more sugar and simple starches to compensate, which actually increases LDL cholesterol, and the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Instead: Eat a diet with about one-third of your calories from good quality fat, while eating a very small amount of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil and fish with omega-3 fats actually keep you full longer and reduce your risk of heart attack.
In conclusion, it is a good idea to eat a variety of foods when your body is hungry and to stop before you have eaten too much and feel full. People who do this generally don’t have to worry about their weight or all of the food rules floating around the Internet.
What bad diet advice have you seen and ignored? What healthy eating habits do you incorporate into your life? What conversations do you have with yourself and friends about healthy aging? Please join the conversation here in the comments section.