Ditch Diet Disasters
BY: Laura Marbury, MS, RD, LD
People are more confused than ever about how to eat healthily. Much of this has to do with questionable information coming from a variety of sources—from your hairdresser to the internet. While trendy diets seem alluring, their recommendations aren’t always science-based. Let’s review how to steer clear of these “diet disasters” from a dietitian’s perspective.
Avoid Fad Diets.
If a diet offers a quick fix, cuts out a whole food group (such as Paleo or Ketogenic), or isn’t science-based, it’s a fad diet. While trying fad diets may seem harmless, the fact is that continually yo-yo dieting slows your metabolism and according to research, most people gain the weight back, plus more! Cutting out entire food groups can result in a shortage of essential nutrients, which can lead to serious health problems. For example, eliminating dairy foods can result in under-consuming vitamin D and calcium, which could lead to osteoporosis. Instead, enjoy a variety of foods and think of it as an eating style—not a diet. Try the Mediterranean Diet, which was recently ranked the top diet by US News & World Report. This food approach focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and olive oil, as well as nutrient-rich dairy foods like cheese and yogurt.
Many people reach for juices because of the proposed health benefits, but the dirty little secret is that juices are packed with sugar—sometimes as much as a candy bar. Drinking these kinds of juices day after day can cause the calories to add up and because they are lacking in protein and fiber, you’re hungry soon after drinking them. Instead, make a smoothie using whole foods that are full of fiber. Don’t forget to include real cow’s milk, which will pack the smoothie with 8 grams of high-quality protein—something you won’t find in milk substitutes. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free real dairy milk, which contains all the nutrients of milk minus the lactose.
Don’t Skip Meals.
Intermittent fasting is a popular trend that involves restricting the hours in which you eat. Most intermittent fasting schedules recommend not eating until noon. However, skipping meals can lead to overeating later, and can be dangerous if you have underlying medical conditions. Instead, I recommend eating smaller meals and spreading calories throughout the day rather than during a restricted time frame. Always start your day with a protein-packed breakfast—many studies link eating breakfast with a reduced risk of diabetes, increased mental alertness, and better weight management.
While the promise of quick weight loss can be enticing, remember: Reducing body weight and keeping it off is hard, so stay grounded with evidence-based science. A well-balanced eating plan, a regular exercise routine, and a good night’s sleep are often the best prescriptions for a healthy mind and body.
Super Power Smoothie
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serving size: 12 ounces
Source: Rebecca Gordon, Buttermilk Lipstick
- 1 1/4 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt divided
- 3/4 cup canned beets chilled and drained
- 12 frozen pitted dark sweet cherries
- 1/2 Honey Crisp apple seeded and cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 4 teaspoons honey
- Pulse 1 cup yogurt and the next 6 ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- Divide equally between two glasses; top each serving with 2 tablespoons yogurt.
- Garnish with a sliced apple, if desired.
Laura Marbury is a registered dietitian and serves as the Food and Nutrition Outreach Manager for The Dairy Alliance. She is responsible for implementing nutrition programs for health professionals, educators, and consumers, including conducting television, radio and print interviews on nutrition throughout the Southeast. Visit thedairyalliance.com or follow @theDairyRD for delicious one-dish recipes and nutrition tips.