If you’ve wanted to shed some extra pounds, you’ve probably heard and read it all by now, and maybe you’ve even tried half of it, too. With all the information out there these days, it can be hard to pick apart what’s worth trying, what isn’t and separate the solid advice from the bunk. No matter what you hear or read, the simple truth about achieving a healthy weight boils down to getting fit and burning more calories than you consume during the day. Maintaining it means staying fit and not eating more calories than your burn during the day. Sure, there are little things you can do to boost your success or suffer greater setbacks, so let’s look at some popular diet myths and debunk them. We don’t want to waste our time tweaking the wrong things, do we?
Myth 1: Bread and potatoes make you fat.
Completely false. Starchy vegetables and (whole grain) bread, are carbs you need for fuel. The problem is not these foods, but how we tend to prepare them. It’s when you smear your bread with butter and fry your potatoes that you increase the calorie intake as much as four times. Dip your bread in a little extra virgin olive oil or eat it plain instead and dress your baked or boiled potatoes minimally to get the benefits from these foods without skyrocketing your caloric intake.
Myth 2: If you drink water before a meal, you’ll be less hungry.
Well – sort of. Water does curb your appetite if it's incorporated into food like a soup, or a thick vegetable juice like V-8. Apparently, when water is bound to food, digestion is slower and a fuller stomach means fewer hunger pangs. The thing to look out for: It's easy to confuse hunger and thirst, so if you find yourself craving something, drink a big glass of water first and see what happens. It may be that a drink is all your body really wanted.
Myth 3: Shellfish is packed with cholesterol.
On the one hand, it's true. Three ounces of shrimp contain more than a third of your daily cholesterol. But there's more: Shrimp is low in saturated fat and has a bit of omega-3 fatty acids. Eaten in moderation, shellfish can have health benefits. According to researchers at the University of Southern California, eating shellfish every week produced a 59% reduction in heart attack risk. I might just start eating some shellfish once in awhile after learning that.
Myth 4: It’s fine to eat the occasional burger and fries.
The problem: The word, “occasional.” If that means every Friday night to you, you’re probably pushing it. Now, if we’re talking every few months and you're fit, your numbers for weight, waist size, cholesterol, and blood pressure are all good, AND the rest of the time you’re eating vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and other nutritious fare, well, okay then. You’re fine. But few of us are that perfect. If you do “occasionally” indulge, take a nice fast paced 90-minute walk afterward to help offset the effects.
Myth 5: Women can’t do anything about gaining weight after menopause.
While hormones can be blamed for everything from acne to PMS, your fitness level has a much bigger impact on your weight than any hormonal changes that come with age. Most older women who continue vigorous, regular exercise can and do maintain their figures.
Myth 6: Diet soda is worse than the real thing.
Truth is, they’re both lousy for us. Both types increase kidney and heart disease risk, plus they contain acids that erode tooth enamel and welcome cavities. It’s always best to satisfy your thirst with water, diluted fruit juice, and green tea rather than any type of soda.
Well, that’s great to know, you might be thinking – but what do I do when I’ve just GOT to indulge in a little something before I go NUTS??!! I’ll tell ya what. If you’re going to indulge yourself in something sinful and delicious and there’s just no stopping you - do it as early in the day as possible. Researchers say that we get the most satisfaction from our food in the morning and our capacity to feel satisfied steadily weakens over the course of the day. If you eat your biggest meal at breakfast and continue to eat small portions of healthy foods throughout the day, chances are that you’ll be a lot less likely to have strong cravings for unhealthy “comfort” foods in the evening.