Treating patients over the years, I have come across several common mistakes people are making in their diet that sabotage their weight loss success. When I ask people what their diet is like, a lot of people respond with “I eat pretty healthy”. When I read what they are actually eating, it is often times not healthy at all. Diet and nutrition can be endlessly confusing and often times what we think is healthy is in fact the opposite. This article will help to clear up some of the diet myths out there and help you identify the common mistakes you may be making in your weight loss efforts. Here are the top 7 ways you may be sabotaging your diet:
1. Eating yogurt for breakfast (or any other time of the day). Yogurt was touted as a health food years ago. We were probably also told that yogurt contains beneficial probiotics that are good for our gut. The reality is that yogurt contains a ton of sugar and the probiotic value of most yogurts is slim to none. After reading many patients’ daily diets I saw a common theme in patients that were overweight and trying to eat healthy: they started their day off with yogurt and fruit or a smoothie. Sugar, sugar and more sugar which turns into fat and extra weight.
2. Eating a lot of fruit. Fruit is a natural form of sugar. Sugar in any form is still sugar! Many people think that they need to be eating more fruit in their diet, not realizing that they are spiking their blood sugar and inhibiting weight loss. Fruit, fruit juices, fruit snacks, dried fruit, and any form of fruit in the diet will prevent you from losing weight. If not trying to lose weight, fruit that is in season in moderation is fine, but if you are trying to drop some pounds, you will need to eliminate fruit from your diet.
3. Drinking Smoothies and Juicing. Now I know some people reading this might be getting upset at this moment, but I am here to help you by giving you the honest truth. When anything is juiced or blended it turns immediately into sugar. I know you may have watched the documentaries and read the articles and bought the juicer and spent a ton on produce and dwindled it down to one little cup, but what you are consuming is processed in the body as sugar. (Yes, even vegetables!)
Also, many vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.) are high in oxylic acid which is very irritating to the gut and can negatively affect your thyroid function when eating raw or juiced. Go ahead and have all the green veggies you want, but be sure to cook them first to get the best benefit.
4. Eating too many raw or cold foods. When you eat excessive cold and raw food the digestive system has to work extra hard to break down and digest the food because it has to heat it up first. (Time to put down that ice cold smoothie…) Over time our digestive system becomes weakened by having to work over time breaking down the cold and raw foods. This may lead to bloating, diarrhea and a sluggish digestive system.
5. Low protein, low fat, and/or high carbohydrate diet. Our bodies are made up primarily of 3 things: protein, fat and water. There is no such thing as a carbohydrate, so why are we eating so much of them? Breads, cereals, pastas, crackers, cookies, cakes, etc. all turn into (here we go again) – SUGAR! Foods that are low-fat or fat-free contain extra sugar in place of the missing fat and often contain a lot of chemicals to boot. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates causes our blood sugar to spike and crash, leaving us tired, cranky, and still hungry. Fat does not make us fat and dietary cholesterol does not raise our cholesterol (high cholesterol comes from eating too much sugar, not fat). Really?! Yes, after all the years of doctors preaching (and still preaching) to patients to eat less meat and less fat it has actually resulted in more obesity, more diabetes and higher cholesterol. Oops!
6. Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian diet. I understand there are many reasons people opt for these diets – I was one of them. I was vegetarian for 17 years and vegan for 2. My hair was falling out, I was freezing cold all the time, I was lacking vitamins that were absent from my diet, I didn’t have protein to repair my muscles (and was incredibly sore all the time after exercising), I was anemic and I lacked enough fat in my diet for my brain to function optimally. One day I suddenly craved red meat and I knew that my body was begging for protein, B vitamins and iron. I ate a grass-fed steak, it was amazingly delicious, I felt so much better and I never looked back. Years of studying nutrition led me to uncovering the truth about vegetarian/vegan diets – they primarily consist of (oh no, here she goes again) SUGAR! What do you mean? Fruit = sugar, pasta = sugar, cereal = sugar, beans = protein but metabolized in the body as sugar, soy = genetically modified. Does this sound healthy to you? Yes, the vegetables are healthy, as long as you are not juicing them or eating a ton of them raw. Now for those of you that absolutely refuse to eat any form of animal protein your diet (I understand because I was one of them), a complete amino acid supplement taken with each meal can help bump up your protein intake.
7. Eating Gluten. I know there is a lot of hype around gluten and many think this is just the latest diet fad, but there are many reasons to eliminate gluten from your diet. First off, gluten is essentially the “glue” that holds bread and other baked goods together. There is now approximately 50% more gluten in foods than there was years ago. This “glue” over time creates holes in the microvilli of the small intestine which allows things that shouldn’t pass through the small intestine pass through. This causes a lot of inflammation and can lead to a “leaky gut”. Once you eliminate gluten, you will most likely notice a flatter stomach, less bloating, clearer skin, less brain fog and an more energy.
Now before you start freaking out thinking about all of the restrictions you need to make, there are a lot of foods you actually can eat. The best rule of thumb is to just eat real food. For achieving weight loss, a high protein diet is hands-down the best way to lose the weight and keep it off. You do not need to starve yourself or restrict your calories to lose weight. You just need to eat the right foods in the right proportions.
Stay tuned for our next blog - What you should be eating to lose weight!