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Busting diet myths

February 13, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
Many women and possibly quite a few men, by the time they reach middle age, have been on so many diets during their lifetime, they can’t even remember all of them.

I think I started dieting when I was 12 years old. I wasn’t extremely overweight, but back then, all of the students in the classroom were ushered to the nurse’s office once a year for their annual weight and height measurements. I remember the nurse saying my weight aloud for her assistant to log next to my name on her clipboard. I also remember being mortified that everyone in the entire school – okay, just my classroom – now knew how much I weighed.

It is bad enough being a 12-year old girl and going through all of the changes that life throws at us when we hit puberty, but having our personal trials announced to the world was horrifying. I immediately put myself, not on any particular diet, but on what I called a diet, which was simply to run around more outside and eat less at my meals.

By the time school started again in the fall, I was 20 pounds lighter and I maintained that weight throughout the rest of high school. Some may think it odd that I didn’t gain as I grew, but the fact is, I didn’t grow. I am still the same height now that I was at age 12.

The problem is, while my height has not changed, throughout my adult years, my weight has. It has moved up and down several times and since I have been an adult a lot longer than I was a child, I have learned a few lessons that I would like to share. If you have any opinions on my theories, please feel free to comment.

1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. This is not real life and I don’t know who made up this ridiculous rule. As long as you are satisfied and aren’t suffering any bladder issues, drink something with your meals and in–between when you are thirsty. Personally, I don’t have time to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes and it is annoying.

2. Don’t eat after 6, 8, 10 p.m. at night, or whatever time you want to put in there. This is another unrealistic rule, especially for people who work long hours and sometimes don’t get home until later in the evening. Maybe diet “experts” made this up to keep people from binge eating while watching television, and if that’s your problem, then fine, stop eating after dinner. But if I have to eat dinner at 8 p.m., I’m going to do it. Besides, everyone now knows that it isn’t what or when you eat, it is calories in versus calories out that ultimately determines your weight. The point is to make those calories nutrient dense so you aren’t wasting them on junk that gets you nowhere.

3. Stay away from desserts. If you polish off an entire box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting, does this count as dessert? Okay, it’s true that we should watch our sweets, and my own person rule is not to purchase anything with more than 7 grams of sugar on any one nutritional label, but I don’t think having a rare dessert will sabotage a healthy eating program. As long as it isn’t every day or even several times a week. But an occasional piece of birthday cake or a couple of those Girl Scout cookies with a glass of milk on a rare occasion is okay in my book.

4. If it isn’t real oatmeal, it won’t do you any good. I beg to differ. I often have instant oatmeal on the days I work out because I have to eat breakfast at work at my desk. It isn’t conducive to my office situation to spend 20 minutes cooking real oatmeal. Besides, the newer brands of packaged oatmeal are a lot lower in sugar, while still being high in fiber and protein. Add a bit of fruit and some nuts and I’m sure my doctor will agree that it’s better than no oatmeal at all for my cholesterol.

These are just a few of my personal diet myths. I’d like to hear yours, or at least how you feel about mine.

Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days and it is difficult to make plans and schedule meals when I’m working on deadlines and keeping appointments. But after three weeks of following the food pyramid program, I think I have a pretty good handle on what I should be eating, which makes it easier to make those on the spot decisions about meals. After my work-out in the morning, I had breakfast at my desk of Quaker Weight Control instant oatmeal with blueberries and sliced almonds. And, of course, a cup of tea.

I took the time to pack a lunch that morning and although I try to stick mainly with whole grains, no one loves a good bread more than I. I found these Ciabatta rolls at the grocery store and they make perfect sandwiches. Monday I had tuna with low-fat mayonnaise and lettuce as well as a low-sodium canned soup.

Although I was busy, I took the time for an afternoon snack, mainly because I wasn’t sure when I would be able to get home for dinner. On Sunday I made hummus for the first time from scratch and thought it came out pretty well. For my snack I had two tablespoons of the hummus with Kashi whole-wheat crackers and some fresh pineapple.

My husband made spaghetti for dinner and I had one cup, which I measured out along with a ladle-full of meat sauce and a salad with low-fat Italian dressing.

 
 

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Breakfast: 1 ounce grains; ½ cup fruit; 1 ounce meat; 1 tsp. oils; 30 discretionary calories