Food and Diet Myths Exposed!

To Lose Weight, Go Gluten-Free

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and any processed foods containing these ingredients. Going 'gluten-free' is the latest diet craze, however, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have no choice and must follow a gluten-free diet for life. If eaten, they develop an immune reaction that creates inflammation and damages the intestine.

If you don't suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, simply eliminating gluten from your diet will not in itself help you lose weight. There are plenty of gluten-free, calorie-rich foods that can take their place (i.e. soda, butter, cream, gluten-free brownies, etc.) and actually cause you to gain weight.

Registered dietitian and celiac expert Shelley Case says "Studies have shown that people following a gluten-free diet, especially when relying heavily on commercially prepared gluten-free foods, can have diets low in iron, fiber, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D."

Carbohydrates Make You Fat!

Eating too much of any food will cause you to pack on the pounds. Protein rich foods like beef and chicken and fat-rich foods like oils and nuts can both tip the energy balance in favor of weight gain when you overeat them.

For some reason, carbohydrates have been unfairly demonized. The truth is, you can't live without them. They provide key vitamins and minerals for general health and are your body and brain's primary source of fuel. Carbohydrate-rich foods include:

Healthy eating is about balance and variety. Make a point to eat from all foods groups, keep your portions in check and you will soon achieve a healthier weight without feeling deprived.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, crackers, etc.)
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans and legumes (pinto, kidney, lentils, etc.)
  • Sweets (sugar, jam, jelly, honey, soda, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.)

Sweets and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, are less satisfying and can trigger overeating. They are typically low in fiber-an indigestible carbohydrate that adds bulk to food, slows digestion and keeps you feeling full! Stick with healthy, fiber-rich carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, barley, whole grain bread and crackers) beans and legumes. Don't forget to round out your meals with a serving of low-fat milk or yogurt!

Eating After 8:00 P.M. is Bad for Your Waistline

The truth is, what matters is what and how much you eat in a 24-hour period...PERIOD! Eating past dinner (or at any time of the day for that matter) becomes an issue of weight gain when:

  • You grub on traditional "couch potato" foods like chips, cookies, candy and other sweets
  • You grub on traditional "couch potato" foods in amounts that could feed a small country
  • You grub on traditional "couch potato" foods to cover up what you're really feeling - sadness, boredom, depression, anxiety, -or-(fill in the blank)___________________
  • You grub on non-couch potato foods (those typically thought of as "healthy") in amounts that could feed a small country

So, if you are hungry and it's past 6 pm, what should you eat? Here are some of my favorites that I think you'll like too!

  • Small bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk
  • Small bowl of oatmeal topped with a touch of brown sugar and handful of berries
  • 2 chocolate rice cakes topped with a dab of peanut butter
  • Small bowl of Smart Balance Smart 'n Healthy Popcorn
  • 1 slice of whole grain toast with 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter and a touch of jam
  • 2 handfuls of whole grain tortilla chips (my favorite: Eat Smart Naturals Whole Grain Tortilla Chips with Flax, Quinoa, Chia and Sesame Seeds)

Notice all of the above snacks are carbohydrate-rich. Think about it - you aren't craving carrot sticks in the after-dinner hours are you? Bring on the starch and sweets...right? There is a real reason for this. Some researchers believe that carbohydrate cravings signal a dip in your body's serotonin stores. Serotonin is a powerful brain chemical that makes you feel happy and calm. Carbohydrate-rich foods like cereal and crackers increase your serotonin levels in a roundabout way, so this may explain why you sometimes crave cookies or other starchy foods in the late afternoon and evening or when you're feeling blue. This is your body's way of trying to boost its serotonin level so that it can feel better!

The bottom line: If you're stomach hungry and it happens to be past 6:00, 8:00 or 10:00...EAT! Just make it small and smart!

Drink Eight 8-Ounce Cups of Water Each Day

The truth is, water recommendations are based on several factors:

  • How physically active you are
  • How much you weigh
  • How hot it is outside
  • If you are sick with a fever and are vomiting and/or have diarrhea
  • How thirsty you are

Keep in mind that once you begin feeling thirsty, your body is already dehydrated, so don't wait until you get to this point. The general guideline for water consumption is between 6-12 cups per day. A quick way to determine your estimated water needs is to take your body weight in pounds and divide it by two. The result is the approximate number of ounces of water you need every day, not taking into account exercise or illness. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need approximately 75 ounces of water per day. The best way to check how hydrated you are-look at the color of your urine. If it's a pale yellow color, you're pretty well hydrated. If it looks like the color of apple juice or beer, grab your water bottle and drink up!

Margarine is Healthier Than Butter

Not necessarily, especially if that margarine is filled with artery-clogging trans fat. Most brands of margarine are lower in saturated fat than butter-that's a bonus because saturated fat tends to raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, contributing to heart disease and stroke. But if that very same margarine contains partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils in the ingredients, you are better off using butter.

Trans fats (trans fatty acids) are created when a liquid oil is put through a process called partial hydrogenation to make it a solid fat. It's usually found in margarine and other processed foods like commercially baked cakes, cookies and crackers.

Trans fats raise both your total and LDL cholesterol levels. If that isn't bad enough, it also lowers your good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol) level. In fact, just like saturated fats, trans fats increase your risk of developing heart disease!

They're even more harmful than saturated fat, so eliminating them from your diet completely is a good idea.

Earth Balance and Smart Balance are two of our favorite trans-fat free margarines.