Volume 94, Issue 92

Thursday, March 15, 2001


Another bad fad - Revealing some diet myths

March Madness is upon us again

Huckins rides into the sunset

Moving day in the NHL - St. Louis may not be so blue for long

Another bad fad - Revealing some diet myths

By Kasia Iglinsky
Gazette Writer

They're quick, they're easy, and they don't work.

Many of us have bought into the notion of quick fix diets. In fact, any aspiring dieter craves to hear "you too can loose ten pounds in just two days!" Yet the reality remains that fad diets are just not meant to be.

They promise quick and easy weight loss, generally without requiring exercise, and while all this seems fine and dandy in the world of fat fantasy, once reality sets back in we see why each and every one of them are impossible.

Fad diets are often too low in calories and tend to exclude one of the four essential food groups – and we all remember from our elementary school years how important those are.

"Fad diets are not based on research, but on anecdotes. For example, people always talk of fad diets in terms of "Oh yeah so-and-so lost so much weight on this new diet," but you never hear of hundreds of people loosing weight on that particular diet because the information is not based on experimental evidence," explained Ginette Blake, Public Health Dietitian of the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

Fad diets do not change people's eating habits, which is generally the problem with those trying to loose weight, according to Blake. The truth is that fad diets are difficult to maintain and people generally give up on them easily. This places them right back where they started before the diet, or worse – 10 pounds heavier.

"When someone is on a diet their metabolism slows down, so when they go back to eating their usual daily intake of food that person's body does not know what to do with this excess amount of food, so it turns it into fat," Blake said.

Second year nutrition student at Brescia College, Jennifer Cook, said she has never tried fad diets. "They don't provide the proper nutrients. The no carbs, no meats, or no fats diets are stupid, you need all these things for a healthy diet." she said. "Besides, they are a waste of your money."

However, fad diets are not the only fallacies that we adhere to. In keeping with the theme of nutrition month, "Making Sense of the Food You Eat," everyone should be aware of some of the other myths the general public conjure up about nutrition.

Myth #1: "Carbohydrates are fattening."

The truth: Unfortunately anything in excess is fattening. According to Lefa Koba, a lecturer in human ecology at Brescia College, "Everything has its place in a balanced diets, especially carbohydrates."

Myth #2: "Even though I eat well I should take vitamin supplements."

The truth: The typical healthy individual, who eats well-balanced meals, does not need more vitamins added to their diet. As long as the four essential food groups have been adequately accounted for, extra vitamins can be wiped off the shopping list. For all those advocates of protein shakes, They do not act like Popeye's spinach – they won't miraculously make you stronger

Myth #3: "Eating fats is bad for your health"

The truth: We all need a little bit of fat in our diets as they provide the essential fatty acids our bodies need, but cannot themselves produce. "Fats help to deliver and absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are essential to any healthy body," Koba explained.

Myth #4: "Eating at night causes you to gain weight."

The truth: It is not the actually eating that is the problem – it is what you eat. Snacking on pizza or good old Sammy's fries after a late night out, is where those added pounds come from. Yet a healthy alternative like a classic favorite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is actually okay.

So what should you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Once again, the much-belabored point of a well-balanced diet, combined with some form of exercise. Amazingly it really is that simple. Blake also advised to watch your calorie intake of liquids. "Most people buy a Fruitopia and think nothing of it, yet the fact remains they have a lot of calories but do not fill you up."

Another little trick Blake offered is to increase the amount of fiber in your diet – it makes you feel fuller.

Simply put, "Healthy eating is just common sense," Blake said.

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