A Diet Advice Newsletter Full of Bad Advice

The following article a very typical newsletter, full of diet cliches, ineffective “tips,” and assumptions.  My comments are italicized.

Many of us have moved beyond fad diets and prefer instead to focus on doing small, impactful things every day to be healthier. If that’s more your speed than strict diets and rigorous routines, consider these simple tips that create surprising results!  (No they do not.  This is standard diet speak that has been said for decades.   But these “small impactful things” destroy a normal, relationship with food and eating.  These tips don’t help, and in fact, are harmful.)

Tip #1: Start with breakfast.

Don’t make your body wait until lunch – several hours after you rise – for fuel. (Right, why would you wait until you are hungry, stuff it down!)  Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism by replenishing glucose (blood sugar), glycogen (carbohydrate store used as fuel for the brain and muscle) and fluid.   The amount of increase in your metabolism is not significant.  Are you hungry?  No?  Then do not disrespect your body with unwanted, un-needed food! 

 A healthy breakfast also decreases the chance of overeating later in the day.  Really?  This is a myth.  Forcing food when you are not hungry does not decrease real hunger later. It simply disconnects you from eating with hunger, and that is trouble, causes food obsession, and disrespects your body’s hunger, and non-hunger signals.

Tip #2: Add fiber.

Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed in the bloodstream, which means you stay full longer.  

If you desire fiber-rich foods, eat them.  If they make you feel well, eat them.  If they give you a stomach ache, don’t eat them.  We all have different ancestors who developed the ability to digest food differently.  

You need 20 to 25 grams of fiber a day, which you can get by eating whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and brown rice. Always drink lots of water when eating foods high in fiber.  

Really? so when you force yourself to eat fiber, whether or not you feel good after you eat it, you must also drink more water.  Hmm, how about drinking water when you are thirsty.  Or drinking water because you notice that you feel better when you are well hydrated?   

Tip #3: Replace candy or a sweet treat with fruit.

It might not sound as satisfying, but you’d be surprised at how well it works to stop those sugar cravings. You’ll stay full longer and have more energy because your blood glucose levels will be steady.  

Grapes cause a rush of sugar too, Many fruits do.  Bottom line:  If you want fruit, have fruit.  When you are hungry, however, and you are craving something high in calories and sugar- for whatever reason, it is better to satisfy that craving and hunger with exactly what you want than trying to “get by” with something you don’t really want.  What often happens is that we eat the apple, then the cookie too.  Better to have just had what you wanted and moved on with your day.  You will crave nutritious food too- maybe never an apple, maybe your body likes pears.  Discover your true food personality! 

Tip #4: Read labels.

The label will tell you how much sugar, calories and fat your snack includes. Even foods advertised as “natural” might be high in added sugar, and  something advertised as including “no trans fat” might have up to a half gram of this unhealthy fat in one serving. Watch for items that say “real fruit juice”  to make sure it doesn’t have added corn syrup.  

Or… understand that your body, when given a chance, will steer you to great food.  The diet industry has made you believe that you want Twinkies, if left unguided.  Not True.  And judging what food you will eat based on calories causes you to eat without respect to hunger:  this is only 120 calories so I can have 3!  Versus, I will eat this snack and see how I feel.  Sure, once you have learned to respect your hunger, you can select organic, great food.  But the problem we need to solve first is understanding what our bodies are asking for.  And, once you free yourself from your diet mentality,  your body– despite what you have been told–will ask you for great, nutritious food, wonderful food, just right for you.

Tip #5: Keep a food diary or journal.

Try this for a week. It will make you more conscious of what you have eaten. You may be surprised by something, like how much you’re eating or how little you’re getting in terms of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.  Hmm, sounds like you are going to add up the calories!  Instead, ask yourself, "Did I eat when I was hungry, and did I delay eating more when hunger was quiet?"  These are the questions you need to get used to asking yourself. 

Tip #6: Eat in a circle.

This term comes from encouraging children to try everything on their plate, “in a circle," before asking for seconds on anything. More globally, it means getting out of the rut of eating the same thing every day; instead, choose a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colors to fulfill your body’s vitamin and mineral requirements. If you “eat in a circle” successfully, you might even eliminate the need for an oral supplement.  (Your body will ask for foods based on your needs at a given time.  For example, when you work out more, you will be hungrier.  When you sweat a lot, you may want more salt.  Key?  Let your body tell you, not the other way around.  If you don’t think this is possible, it is because you think you know your food personality.  But if you have dieted on and off for years, you may have completely lost touch with your hunger and cravings.  Your healthy thin mentality will reconnect you to this wisdom.

Tip #7: Hydrate.

Dehydration can masquerade as hunger! Being hydrated helps the heart pump blood more easily to the muscles and organs. If you feel hungry, see if drinking an 8-ounce glass of water curbs it. Avoid sports drinks with electrolytes unless you have just finished a strenuous exercise routine. (Note: Dark colored urine could mean you need more water!) Whatever specific foods you choose, a good diet is one that is safe, effective at delivering whatever results you seek (weight loss or maintenance, for instance), nutritious, and helps guard against health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  

As you get reacquainted with your hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc., you will do this easily.  You will reach for water when you are thirsty- no one will have to tell you. You will know when you are tired, versus when you are hungry.  These are not improbable feats of magic.  This is normal.  We have been taught to be abnormal around food.  Our workbook can help you make this transition  –  it is the best gift you will ever give yourself.