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Nutrition News: Fad Diets

There was an article in the New York Times discussing diets. It simply states that diets don’t work! What was interesting was that they looked at how different foods effect a person’s weight. Some studies had subjects intake the exact same amount of calories but the types of food varied from high fat and high protein to high carbohydrates. It appeared that the high fat high protein diets burned more calories. But what one needs to consider is how carbohydrates hold water, so the results are not conclusive.  I can not count the number of times that people have asked me about Atkins, the cabbage soup diet, south beach, lemonade cleanse… but they are usually not willing to hear the truth: founded on science and based in reality fad diets don’t work!

 This is how I explain it: Each of us has some genetic disposition to be a certain size. No matter how many times you hang upside down you won’t get taller and some of us will never be stick thin. So first you need to be realistic with your goals. Second, I suggest food journaling. See what your real daily intake is. Every bite, taste and sip you need to document. You can use one of the online tools (I like myfitnesspal.com) to keep track of what you eat and drink. Then you should see how much you exercise (they have a tab to record this as well). If you are trying to lose weight, aim to decrease your intake or burn through exercise 500 calories a day.

Here are some examples of how simple it can be:
*Switch from a bagel with cream cheese to a whole grain English muffin with low fat cream cheese- save about 380 calories
*Take the cheese off your sandwich and replace it with mustard- save about 200 calories
*Replace your full fat salad dressing with reduced fat- save about 100 calories
*Have cocktail shrimp as an appetizer instead of fried calamari- save about 300 calories
*Steam your vegetables and sprinkle with 1 TBSP grated cheese instead of sautéing in butter or oil- save about 200 calories
*Add salsa to your baked potato instead of butter or sour cream- save about 100 calories
*Have one square of dark chocolate instead of ice cream- save about 250 calories

Improving ones diet does not mean taking out a food group but making healthier choices. One thing that I try to emphasize with my clients- do NOT deprive yourself but make sure you really want what you eat. For example if you love ice cream have one small scoop of your favorite kind instead of all the chemically made low fat/ fat free/ sugar free versions. Don’t have it everyday, but once in a while treat yourself. When making choices look for ingredients you recognize because your body will too and know how to break it down. Don’t skip on fat. Healthy fats such as avocado, salmon, raw nuts and seeds, are essential and help keep you feeling satisfied.
Remember, your stomach is the size of your fist. All you need to do is fill it, not stretch or stuff it. With this being said, you also want to make sure you don’t skip meals, end up starving and over eating. Also, slow down! The food won’t run away. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register what you are eating and feeling full. Why inhale your food? Are you even tasting it? Last note, think of food as fuel. You only have one body, treat it with respect!

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Sharon Richter, RD
200 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212.977.7779

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