Healthy Eating Beats Diets

This blog will never advise you to go on a “diet”.
Why?  Because Diets Don’t Work.  This is not ground breaking information.  Everyone who has ever been on a diet can attest to that, and those of us who yo-yo are actually putting our health in greater danger. I am ALL for safe and healthy weight loss, but never with a ‘diet’.  Lifestyle changes is what are needed for anyone to succeed.  But according to a new study it’s not what you weigh but what you eat.

A new study has been published.
It reports that better strategies for improving health are to focus on eating healthier food rather than body size.  The study from UC Davis was published in the January 24th issue of Nutrition and uses evidence from over 200 studies to conclude that changes in health are achieved from changing what you eat, rather than from dropping weight.  The changes included cholesterol levels, triglycerides, blood pressure, physical activity and self esteem.

It brings to mind of the recent experiment of the nutrition professor
He went on a junk food diet, other wise known as the twinkie diet.  His lipids and cholesterol also went down with calorie restriction, but this is the thing-that dietary experiment didn’t last long enough to determine long term effects.   A diet like that won’t make old bones because it is severely lacking in micro nutrients, even with the vitamin pill he took.

But here is what the new research shows:
A study carried out by Bacon and Stern, two nutrition professors from UCLA that spanned 2 years says it’s not how many calories you consume, but where those calories come from.  That study will be published in the June edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Seventy eight women aged between 30 and 45 participated.  One group was instructed to listen to internal cues for hunger and fullness and participated in support groups to learn about healthy food.  They also worked on developing a healthy self image and self acceptance of their size.  The program is called Health at Every Size or HAES.

In the study, the dieting group was restricted calories moderately, kept a food diary, read food labels and monitored their weight, along with information on exercise and how to count fat and calories.  I have to say, the latter form of dietary advice is pretty standard practice for dietitians.  But maybe there is a better way.  I believe there is.

The results of the 2 year study showed this:  Ninety two percent of the people in the non dieting group stayed with the study, but 42% of the people in the dieting group dropped out.  Although those in the non dieting group didn’t lose any weight their cholesterol had dropped significantly, as had their blood pressure, they had quadrupled their physical activity, and showed significant improvement in self esteem and less depression.

The opposite is true for the dieting group.  Although they initially lost weight – 5.2% of their body weight, by 2 years they had gained it all back, pretty much.  There was no significant change in cholesterol or blood pressure and the dieters did not sustain any improvements in exercise – they also showed a worsening of self esteem and depression.  YIKES.  Failing at diets, if that’s what you call it, hurts us in other ways besides physically.  Our psyche gets damaged too.

Findings from the most recent study,
Bacon and Aphramors’ research was published in the January 24th edition of Nutrition. The findings were similar to the results in the study above, but this study looked at the results of over 200 studies.  What the studies show is that  when the focus is on weight loss for medical nutrition interventions, the results are short lived.  Far better to let go of dieting and focus on healthy eating.

So then, what do we make of all this.
I totally agree that it’s what you eat that counts and that diets don’t work.  You will feel much much better if your diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants that come from fruit and vegetables.  But let’s not forget that some fat is actually more dangerous.  I have been talking about belly fat lately, and it certainly is worthwhile working on reducing the amount of belly fat you have.

Also weight circumference is an indicator for metabolic syndrome which greatly increases risk for diabetes type 2 and or heart disease.  The factors that are diagnostic for metabolic syndrome are:

Fasting blood sugar equal to or above 100mg/d
Low HDL cholesterol
Blood Pressure equal or higher than 130/85mgHG
Triglycerides equal or higher than 150mg/dL
Large waist circumference:  Men 40” or more, Women 35 inches or more

Non dieting is far more effective in the long term, as long as you make healthy choices. Try to get nine servings of fruit and vegetables.  Steer clear of boxed and packaged foods.  Go for foods that are in their most natural state.  Eat plenty of legumes and whole grains.  Avoid trans fats like the plague.  Eat healthy fats from olives, avocadoes, nuts and fatty fish.  Eat butter in moderation and be careful with margarines.  Check for the partially hydrogenated aka trans fats.

Oh, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include green tea in your daily life as well.

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