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Monday, April 20, 2009

Four Dieting Myths Exposed

We are surrounded by dieting myths; many of which have grown up over the years until they have become, more or less, universally accepted. So, by way of making a start, here are four of them put well and truly into context!

Diet food is boring and you can't eat the food you like
One of the main points about healthy dieting is that you get to eat from a wide range of really good food, including some of the best tasting desserts around. However, you're right, there is a down side.

If your present food is unhealthy food laden with fat and sugar or other undesirables, then you won't be allowed to eat it every day -simple as that! Seen from this point of view, a diet will appear restrictive, although most diets now have enough variety to stop them from being boring. If you find that you really are limited in what you can eat on your diet then perhaps you should look at another diet plan.

And, of course, you can have a day off. Most sensible diet plans accept that you need time off and allow you to eat what you like sometimes.

The point of this is to allow you to enjoy the sort of food that you used to eat and which, to put it simply, isn't good for you. The long term idea is that you will slowly get used to the diet food and want your old way of eating less and less.

I like to look upon diets, not as restricting what you can eat, but rather like holidaying in a different country. The food you used to eat is still there, it's just a bit harder to get at, while you are now surrounded by a table spread with a whole host of new food that is both delicious and tasty and just waiting for you to try. The difference, of course, is that you never need go home!

Some of this new food you will like and some of it you will not like so much, but you will soon develop some new favorites and these will, in future, become your foods of choice.

If the thought of adapting to new food worries you (and it's a perfectly normal worry to have) take some time out before your diet begins for a dummy run of a month or so to try the sort of food allowed and see how you get on. If you then feel that the diet is really not for you, don't give up; look around and find another that caters more for your taste and have another trial period.

The reality of healthy eating for most people is that they end up really liking the food but sometimes this does take a week or so.

If I skip a meal I will lose more weight
The theory is good - eat less calories and you'll lose weight - but the reality is a little different.

Your body is not stupid, it knows how many calories it needs to keep you at your present weight and it knows how much food you need to eat to get there. Skip a meal and you will simply eat more throughout the day to catch up and often, paradoxically, you can find yourself having eaten more calories at the end of the day.

However, doing the opposite, strangely enough, can help with a diet. If you eat more often but eat less at each meal then your body usually feels full and you will find it easier to keep to a calorie controlled diet.

So don't skip meals and don't try to deliberately eat less then you are allowed, your diet is designed to give you sufficient calories so that you will feel full but still lose weight.

I only need to diet - exercise is optional
This is true up to a point but you will miss out on a lot. Exercise complements a diet by firming muscles and making you look and, equally important, feel so much better about yourself.

It is now being realized what an important part just being active plays in dieting and so you will be encouraged to make an effort each day to do something active like, for example, walking. Stronger exercise is still needed but needs to be done less frequently.

So consider exercise as being as important as controlling what you eat and get out and have a good time doing it while knowing that it will help build a firmer and slimmer you!

I'm a good dieter, I choose 'low fat', 'low sugar' food
Most certainly diets should be low in saturated fat and low in sugar but be careful how you choose.

Food manufacturers know that we want food that is low in fat and low in sugar but they also know that the fat and the sugar are what make the food tasty. Inevitably, if they take the fat or the sugar out then they have to add something as a substitute to 'put back' the taste.

Unfortunately, what they add might be just as bad for you as what they have taken out. Become a label-watcher and make sure you know what the ingredients mean on the back of a packet or tin and know, too, what to look out for.

This is not an easy area but it is one where it pays to spend a little time learning what you should be eating. Of course, to help prevent this problem, you could increase the amount of fresh food that you buy even if this means shopping more often and spending a little more time in preparation.

So, don't be mislead by the food fallacies out there; dieting and eating healthily should be enjoyable and should provide a wide variety of food to keep you entertained and looking forward to your next meal.

Mike Taperell is a nutritionist, researcher and prolific author who writes with great understanding and clarity about health and holistic matters. He is Chief Writer and a founder of Health and Holistic a site containing a wealth of articles, information and advice on anti-aging, fitness, food and eating, reflexology, stress avoidance and weight loss.

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