In the complex world of dieting, it may seem like there are so many different diets to choose from and so little time to lose weight. Dieting has become a national pastime, especially for women. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 91 percent of women on college campuses have dieted. When dissatisfaction with natural body shape or size leads to a decision to actively change physical body weight or shape, a dieting mindset surfaces. But how does one define a diet? Most people think of it as an easy and effective way to permanent weight loss, consistent with the general beliefs of society. However, the most effective method for permanent weight loss is changing your eating habits to a healthier lifestyle. [percent]
A current professor at MSU, Jonathan Robison, stressed, “Ninety to 95 percent of people who lose weight with a diet gain most of the weight back within three to five years.” Robison holds a doctorate in health education/exercise physiology and a master’s of science in human nutrition. His experience with this issue tells us there is no scientific evidence diets lead to being thinner in the long run. “Anybody who restricts specific foods and calories is going against 25 years of research stating this is an unsuccessful way to lose weight and keep it off,” said Robison. Why do these diets fail and why do we keep taking this approach toward losing weight if they don’t work?
It’s not that we aren’t serious about losing weight or are unwilling to put forth our best effort. Despite diet dedication, a majority of diets are intrinsically flawed from the start. It’s not practical to follow a diet that requires you to consume only a certain percentage of calories for a day or to cut an entire food group. “Before I knew the effective way to diet, I thought it meant that the less I ate, the more I would lose. Now I just stick to eating healthier things in general,” said microbiology freshman Cutrina Burse. Burse took up dieting and more exercise as a way to improve her performance on the women’s rowing team. Burse discovered diets weren’t all they were hyped up to be. She made the transition to eating healthier as part of her new lifestyle, and this served to replace the diet altogether.
“There’s no way I would put dieting and health in the same context. The struggle we usually come across is separating what our society thinks is healthy and what really is,” said Ronda Bokram, a nutritionist at the Olin Health Center. “We’re meant to enjoy our food.” This means we need to allow ourselves the food that keeps us fueled and, technically, happy. When a diet alienates us from eating typical, everyday foods, it is guaranteed to fail because our body doesn’t want to continue to pursue it. Therefore, it is vital to be knowledgeable about the approaches to healthy eating and its benefits.
[food]People may make choices about when to eat based on emotions, ideas or habits, but the best eating decisions are often made when one carefully considers the cues from his or her body. “I have a history of disordered eating and at one time, had a very difficult time finding a balance between eating for energy, health, and vitality and not eating at all,” said Beth Brooks, a physical therapy technician at the office of Dr. Gary Gray in Adrian, Mich. Even today, Brooks has to remind herself the foods she puts into her mouth serve a purpose: providing her with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber, protein and other rudiments.
Coupled with initial dieting struggles are numerous misconceptions and ideas that might mislead the innocent people trying to lose weight and adopt healthier eating habits. Too often, people become victims of dieting fads and fail to find success in their quest to shed some pounds. Here is a list of some myths relating to dieting in contemporary society that have been debunked.
Myth 1: Energy drinks and caffeine burn calories
Energy drinks are extremely popular within this generation of college students. Most consumers aren’t aware these drinks rely on large doses of caffeine to have that boost of energy. “They are designed to give the user a false energy supply. They allow you to push through exercise or performance and result in a crash at the end. During the use you can burn calories, but there has to be activity to do so,” said Justin Gifford, a nutritional specialist and certified personal trainer of Inner Strength, LLC. When looking at the whole picture, caffeine is actually dehydrating. It’s not energy because energy comes from fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Myth 2: Diet supplements are proven effective and are a normal way to shed pounds
In actuality, what you don’t know about diet supplements can hurt you. “I hate advertisements that claim to be the ‘miracle cure,'” said physiology and pre-med sophomore Abigail Podufaly. The draw of these supplements is that they are easy to get and easy to use. The underlying reality to these supplements is there is no such thing as a “magic pill.” When these companies try to sell their product by promising drastic weight loss, they are just giving potential customers a dangerous alternative to safer weight loss practices.
Myth 3: You can lose weight and eat whatever you want
We have all seen those commercials that advertise, “Lose weight and still eat the foods you love!” Tempting as these promises may seem, people cannot lose weight eating whatever they want. “The human body is like a machine, and the way to keep the machine at optimum performance is by feeding it several meals a day,” said Gifford. A haphazard approach to eating can lead to drops in the level of sugar and cause a crash in energy. People should concentrate on eating a variety of foods, in order to maintain a balanced amount of nutrition.[meal]
Myth 4: Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery or cabbage soup, can burn fat and make you lose weight
Sorry, no dice: no foods can actually burn fat. A prime example of myth is the cabbage soup diet. Contrary to the beliefs of many diet enthusiasts, there’s no magical ingredient in cabbage that can help pounds fly. This fad diet is based on the simple idea that if people starve themselves by eating mainly cabbage soup and drinking some water on the side, they will lose weight; this idea is both false and rather unappetizing.
Myth 5: Fat-free and low-fat foods are healthier than “normal” foods
A common mistake people make when they start to change their eating habits is buying and consuming all fat-free and low-fat substances. “Fat-free foods are not always the best choice because some fats are needed to aid the body in performance. Fat is needed to carry essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals throughout the body,” said Gifford. These substances are needed to help build a strong immune system, keep skin clear and blemish-free and help the brain function properly. On the other hand, there are certain fats to watch out for, including trans-fat and saturated fat. These types of fat can increase risk for heart disease.
Although every body is different, every body still displays hunger cues, and this is when intuitive eating comes into play. “It is extremely important to listen to your body when it comes to hunger and cravings because that is your body’s way of telling you that it needs something,” said Brooks. Intuitive eating creates a healthy relationship among food, mind and body: eat when hungry and stop when sated.
“I’ve tried the gamut of diets! Now, I just try to exercise and enjoy eating because I refuse to give up the things I love,” said Podufaly.
The existence of diets will be around as long as losing weight is a priority to society. However, healthy eating habits shouldn’t revolve around the latest dieting trend; such habits should become integrated into daily life. “If you’re serious about losing weight, don’t turn it into a crash diet. Make eating healthy your lifestyle,” said Burse. Diets often work as short-term goals, and myths about certain diets are difficult to avoid. But depending on energy drinks or celery is not an ideal way to reach weight loss goals. Just let your body do the talking – and let your mouth handle the rest.

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