Trying to shed pounds for bathing suit season? Be careful how you go about losing the weight. There’s so much nutrition misinformation out there—don’t get sucked into thinking you’ve found the magic way. Although there are many dieting faux pas out there, here are 5 common misconceptions I often hear.
#1: Avoid All Fruit
Fruit is nature’s candy and contains a form of sugar called fructose. Before you shun all sugar, it’s important to understand the source. Oftentimes, folks confuse natural sugar found in fruit with added sugar found in cookies, candy and sugary drinks.
Fruit contains about 60 calories per serving and a ton of vitamins, minerals, fiber and special plant chemicals that help fight disease. The sources of added sugar (like sodas, chocolate bars) typically contain hundreds of calories and not many nutrients. Of course, you need to balance out fruit with other foods, but any healthy diet plan should include several servings of fruit each day.
#2: Avoid All Dairy
Dairy is another food group often banned from diets because folks claim it’s tough to digest. If you’re lactose intolerant, then the statement is true. However, for individuals without milk issues, lactose (the form of sugar found in milk) is pretty easy to digest. Dairy products contain 14 key nutrients including protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, magnesium and several B-vitamins. Milk is also one of the best sources of vitamin D—a vitamin that many folks don’t get enough of.
#3: Go Sugar and Fat-Free
If you think dieting means sabotaging flavor, you’re sorely mistaken. Typically foods that are manufactured to be free of sugar and fat are tasteless. Even worse, they are often misconceived to be calorie free, which is often not the case. This can lead to a false sense of eating less than you actually are.
Many fat-free versions of cookies and chips also contain olestra— a fat substitute that can cause severe diarrhea, dehydration and loss of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
#4: More Is Better
One of the most common examples is green tea. Studies show that green tea can help speed up your metabolism…slightly. This doesn’t mean you should drink bottomless cups of green tea. More can be harmful, especially since green tea contains caffeine and certain compounds that leach iron and calcium from your body. If you want to reap the benefits, drink 1 to 2 cups of green tea per day.
#5: The “One Food” Diet
Do you think one food will help melt away fat forever? Whether you’re talking about cabbage, chocolate, cookies, grapefruit or anything else, relying on one food to lose those love-handles isn’t healthy or effective in the long run. First, these diets typically eliminate most other food groups. This means that you’re not getting all the important vitamins and minerals your body needs. Second, you’re not learning how to really eat healthfully, once the weight loss part is over you’ll be frustrated with the rebound weight gain.
TELL US: What bad dieting tip have you gotten?
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Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »