5 Unhelpful Diet Tips to Avoid
Social media influencers have led many Americans to participate in weight loss trends. The promise of drastic and quick results immediately catches our attention because we are all about instant gratification! What we are missing is basic nutrition information about what a nutritious diet should consist of and why diets don’t work. Below I’ll clear up the nutrition confusion around 5 unhelpful, yet common, diet tips based on a few tried and true diet principles:
1. Depriving yourself
If you are trying to lose weight, your first instinct is that you need to cut your portions, eating as little as possible. You might also feel like you need to avoid your favorite foods and perhaps whole foods all together. (An example of this would be following a juice cleanse or the "Grapefruit diet"). The reality is this mindset is not sustainable and can backfire. Depriving yourself of enough food may actually slow down your metabolism (eventually causing weight gain) and increase the chances of developing a chronic disease. Additionally, avoiding your favorite foods can lead to increased cravings and overeating of those foods.
Instead, opt for foods that are high in protein and fiber while incorporating healthy fats and whole grains. Eating more nutrient dense foods is a great approach towards weight management because you are giving your body proper nutrients for fuel while promoting a healthy relationship with food.
2. Avoiding carbohydrates
Many people think avoiding carbohydrates will help them lose weight, as there is much hype around low carb diets like the ketogenic diet. There is evidence that the ketogenic diet can lead to weight loss, however, achieving a ketogenic state can be extremely hard to reach and maintain. It can also be dangerous and lead to serious nutrient deficiencies.
It is important to realize carbohydrates are not bad for you! Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and fat) we need in our diets and are essential to give the body energy. We get carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and grains. These foods also provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber. MyPlate recommends half of your daily grain intake come from whole grains, which include brown rice, whole wheat breads, pastas and crackers. Choosing whole grains over refined grains will provide more nutrients and allow you to stay fuller longer.
3. Avoiding fats
Consuming fat does not mean it will make you fat! Your body needs fat in order to absorb fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and to protect your organs. Fat also provides a satiety factor to our meals and is what helps us stay fuller longer. These two factors play a major role in weight management. The key component of consuming fats is to opt for heart healthy choices like olive oil, nuts, avocados, and chia seeds.
4. Eating vegetable substitutes instead of whole vegetables
Today there are many vegetable-based pastas, crackers and chips options on the market, leading Americans to believe these products count as their vegetable intake for the day. That is not the case. These processed items are made of a blended vegetable powder that has added starch in it to make a flour consistency, which lessens the nutrient content. The best way to get your fruit and vegetables in is to opt for fresh, frozen, or canned versions, which are more nutrient dense. If you are still craving a different type of vegetable snack, check the nutrition facts label to see that whole vegetables are included in the ingredients. For example, these sweet potato chips contain just sweet potato and oil.
5. Calorie Counting
Weight watchers is a diet trend that is based on a point system. This can cause Americans to think lower points make for healthier or better food choices, which can lead to overeating. “Oh it's only 2 points, I can have a bunch!” Your body does need a certain number of calories per day to function properly, but basing food choices off of calorie amounts instead of preference and level of hunger is a slippery slope. Make sure to choose nutrient dense foods that will satisfy your personal needs, provide essential energy your body needs to function and help prevent disease.
Learn more about healthy eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Alexa Sabie, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern