Five diet “rules” to kick to the curb

by SARA on March 13, 2011

A loaf of bread...A while back, I got to put together a fun, Svelte-friendly story for All You magazine–”Cheat on Your Diet (and Still Lose Weight).” Most of it is, unfortunately, only in the magazine (which was out in December–I’m that behind these days), but a truncated version it is available here. For today’s post, I thought I’d put up a few of the tips from the article, along with some expert commentary (that we didn’t have room for in the actual piece). Got others to add–or thoughts on these? I’d love your take…

Rule to break: No carbs at night “This is such a common one,” says Stephanie Middleberg, SG’s go-to nutritionist. “So many people like to have something like a bread roll at dinner and feel they can’t. But the fact is, when they let themselves, they’re more satisfied and less likely to graze during the night.” Experts are even discovering that carbs are better for us than once thought. A recent study published by The American Dietetic Association found that people who eat carbs tend to be slimmer than those who avoid them. The key? Look for complex (think whole grain) over simple (white bread and candy) and stick to a small serving.

Rule to break: Pass on dessert “The key to making dessert work in your diet is to bring the quality up and the portion size down,” says New York nutritionist Marissa Lippert, author of The Cheater’s Diet. “When you get a really good quality chocolate bar you only need a few squares because it’s so great and satisfying it hits all your senses. You’re not left craving anything additional.” Indulging every so often also keeps you from feeling deprived, frustrated, and falling off the weight-control wagon. Remember, too, that not every treat is something you need to bank for: Yogurt or fruit with melted chocolate, for example, is an easy–and nutritious–everyday treat.

Rule to break: Quit drinking to lose weight “Yes, alcohol is high in calories, but a glass at the end of the day won’t set you back, especially if you account for it,” says Middleberg. “If you don’t like the way a diet works, you won’t stick with it. It’s pretty simple.” One way to make room for the expenditure: Tell yourself you can’t have bread, alcohol, and dessert all in one meal. Choose just one per night. Wine–especially red–is lower in calories than other kinds of alcohol and has been tied to a reduced risk of heart disease. If you do opt for an occasional cocktail, though, go easy on the mixers. Look for fresh juices or, better yet, muddled fruit.

Rule to break: Fat makes you fat “When it’s a good, natural fat, it will bring cholesterol down, it will make your skin glow, and most importantly it will curb your appetite. Automatically you’ll eat a smaller portion,” says David Colbert, MD, author of The High School Reunion Diet. Poly and mono-unsaturated fats (what you find in olive oil, fish, or nuts) are thought to be best, but even butter consumption–when it’s eating unprocessed and in small amounts–has been associated with lower levels of trigylcerides, the fat found in the bloodstream. The other thing to remember for weight control is that you’re in charge of the portions. If you love cheese you don’t necessarily need to eat it in pizza or in large cubes. You can shave thin slices onto a salad or use it as a garnish. Bottom line: If something you love strikes you as exceptionally unhealthy, don’t give it up–just shrink the amount.

Rule to break: No eating dinner after 7 pm “I see clients rushing home or shoveling in food to make sure they meet their cut-off. It’s unnecessary, especially if you’re not somebody who goes to bed on the later side,” says Stephanie Middleberg, SG’s go-to nutritionist. The 7 PM rule became popular in order to shorten the big span of time (ripe for cravings) between lunch and dinner, and to keep people from going to bed full and uncomfortable. You can avoid both by having few small snacks throughout the day (yes, even something light right before you go to bed if you want), and compensating by making dinner less hearty.

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Lauren Slayton March 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

I love kicking diet rules to the curb but chances are we can’t all kick all of these. I am never adopting any method of eating that eliminates cocktails completely (or coffee) but I am not a sweet person. I think we all need to pick our pleasure but for weight loss this may have to be singular.

SARA March 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Excellent point, Lauren!! I think the term “pick our pleasure” is so well put. Time and again, studies show that so diets (in the 1980s sense of the word) don’t work because they’re, well, diets. When people go for all or nothing, they tend not to stick to the “nothing” parts very long. It’s so refreshing to see a shift to moderation, with corner-cutting processed “diet” foods being replaced with healthful, quality ingredients and a mindful approach.

(…incidentally, I’m with you on the dessert…and cheese, actually. But bread and a glass of wine, I’d be loath to give up!)

Lauren March 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm

This is a great post because it leaves you with a sense of relief in that being healthy, and watching your weight doesn’t have to mean following an impossible diet. It’s all about moderation. I especially love the part about choosing your ‘treat’ for the night – drink, dessert or bread. It allows you to have your favourite so you don’t deprive yourself, and overdo it on the ‘forbidden’ food or drink when given the opportunity. It’s about finding your own personal balance between enjoying food, being healthy & staying fit, and these are great rules to follow to help you get there. Great post!

SARA March 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Thanks Lauren, I’m so glad!! …I really liked the picking one of three, too. It’s such an elegant trick. Credit to Stephanie M. for that!

Lucy April 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Mmm. Neither bread or dessert should ever be forbidden.

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