As we settle into the New Year and our resolutions, with it comes talk, discussion, and social media proof that those around you are modifying their eating habits.
Some of your friends may be cutting out foods completely, while some may be adjusting their meal timing. Witnessing a variety of strategies can become confusing. For example, one of your Facebook friends is including meat at every meal, another friend is becoming a vegan. This begs the questions of, “who is the ‘better’ eater,” and “who will be making the same resolution to make diet changes for 'once and for all' in 2018?”
The truth is, we have more access than to any type of information- particularly food related information- than ever before. It can be tough to nail what dietary modifications are suitable for you and your life. That said, I want to dispel a few common diet fads that are currently lingering around to help you choose your approach to food.
FAD: Restricting carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight.
FACT: Weight loss has several contributing factors, but it still does come down to burning more energy than we consume. That being said, what makes us “burn” more and what we take in has a lot to do with accomplishing a “net negative” result.
Carbohydrates are essential in order to burn more energy. Carbs are the body’s primary source of fuel and are broken down to glucose molecules to be converted into energy to support the body’s functions and physical activities. Carbohydrates are found in both healthy and unhealthy foods. The healthiest sources of carbohydrates are minimally processed and include legumes, fruits, starchy vegetables (and yes, this includes potatoes), and whole grains. These types of carbohydrates will provide long, sustained energy and support healthy digestion.
FAD: Eating after dinner can lead to weight gain.
FACT: The truth is, our metabolisms do not know what time of day it is. This fad has surfaced as a result of the trend of people that watch television while eating junk food at night. By following the rule of thumb that you should eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full, you can safely trust your body to tell you when to eat. As long as you are listening to internal hunger cues, you should listen to your body. It helps to slow down when eating and to eat without the distraction of technology.
FAD: Eating five to six small meals is always better for your metabolism than three large meals.
FACT: While it is important to keep your metabolism going throughout the day and avoid skipping meals, the frequency and size of each meal should be dependent on what type of eater you are. For example, people that struggle with portion size may subject themselves to overconsuming overall when eating 5-6 meals during the day. Therefore, they may benefit from only 3 larger meals a day, with small snacks between meals.
FAD: Going on a diet is the best way to lose weight.
FACT: You can initially lose weight on any calorie-restricted plan. However, temporary changes do not support sustainable results. Whenever choosing to make dietary changes, it helps to ask yourself if you can see these changes being implemented throughout the duration of your life. You want to choose strategies that will promote your overall health and well-being. Losing weight while also improving health calls for consistency and practicing lifelong habits. Attempting to exclusively live off of “green juice” or cutting out a major food group does not align with improving a person’s overall health and wellness.
FAD: When you eat fat, it turns into fat.
FACT: Like any other food group, overconsuming anything can potentially cause fat storage. Fat is more calorically dense than protein and carbohydrates, but small intakes can make you feel full while aiding the absorption of certain vitamins and phytonutrients that promote health. The National Institute of Health recommends about 65 grams of fat per day for those on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Similar to carbohydrates, there are some types of fats that are better for you than others. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat sources found in fish, nuts, avocados, and liquid oils like olive, canola, or vegetable oil. Types of fats that should be limited are saturated fats and trans fats. It’s also best to avoid fats with cholesterol that are found in fatty animal products, fried foods, or snuck into packaged snack-like foods such as potato chips and cookies.
Ultimately, making nutritional choices for you and your family may seem overwhelming. With so much information out there, it’s easy to feel that there are many mixed messages. However, it is best to remember that if it sounds crazy, it probably is, and to always choose all foods in moderation.
© Copyright Whatismyhealth, January 15th, 2017