It’s that time of year again when new resolutions to suddenly become physically fit are weighing heavily on our minds. With the public obsession with glamor and all things Hollywood, you may find yourself tempted to try a fad diet to drop some fast pounds.
“Healthy lifestyle habits often go unexamined while the spotlight is on the scales,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Alan Dennington. “It’s better to work at tweaking lifestyle factors such as how much exercise you are getting, how often you indulge in empty calories, and how much stress you are under. If you are smoking, now is a great time to talk to your doctor about a cessation program. If you are frequently drinking, now is a great time to cut back. These tweaks can make a big impact on your overall health.”
If you have turned your attention on dieting to work on your weight, here are five diet myths that are commonly accepted as fact:
Myth #1 – Cutting carbohydrates will help me lose weight.
Fact: Simple carbohydrates, such as cookies, cakes, white rice, white flour bread or noodles, and prepackaged cereals should be limited since they translate directly into sugar in your body. However, complex carbs, such as multi-grain bread, oat bran, pinto beans, and brown or wild rice should be kept in your diet since they give you long-lasting energy, fiber for digestion, and they help you feel less hungry.
Myth #2 – If it says “low fat” or “no fat” it’s super healthy.
Fact: Many products have added extra sugars, salt and artificial flavors to make up for the loss of fat. You should read every label to make sure you know how many calories and how much sodium you are consuming. Train yourself to notice serving size when you look at labels, since that can be much less than what you would expect.
Myth #3 – A vegetarian diet is healthier.
Fact: Maintaining a vegetarian diet can have you reaching for processed foods that have higher calories and fat. Vegetarian diets also leave deficiencies in protein, iron, zinc, calcium and B12. A well-balanced diet that includes lean meats can make a difference.
Myth #4 – High protein diets are a great way to lose weight.
Fact: While it is true that many people have had great success with a ketogenic or Paleo diet, those people tend to be at higher risk for regaining weight once they stop. Since this diet of high protein and high fats is hard to sustain for very long, it is not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Losing weight more slowly with healthy lifestyle changes is preferable.
Myth #5 – Eating late at night goes straight to your waist.
Fact: Eating a large meal just before bed can cause indigestion which reduces the quality of sleep that you get. But for some people, going to bed hungry can hurt their sleep habits, too. Sleep and weight have been linked in recent studies. One idea is that sleep affects the hormones that regulate hunger, therefore poor sleep can stimulate a feeling of hunger. If your goal is to lose weight, try eating smaller, more frequent meals and getting extra sleep.
I’m on a strict diet and I’m not feeling well, what should I do?
If you’ve been skipping meals, eating only a certain kind of food, taking diet pills or taking extreme measures to lose weight, and you find yourself feeling run-down, faint, headache, chills, nausea, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations or other symptoms, see your physician or come to the ER right away.
“Trying to lose weight fast with a bunch of different methods and without doctor’s supervision can make you very sick very quickly,” said Dr. Dennington. “Come to Advance ER anytime, day or night, for a confidential consultation to make sure you aren’t harming your health.”
Meet Dr. James Alan Dennington:
James Alan Dennington, M.D., is board-certified in emergency medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, Dallas, TX. He specializes in emergency medicine including wound care and closure. Dr. Dennington has been providing quality medical care for a decade for patients of all ages.