10 Things to Stop If You Eat Low Fat

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Any kind of diet can be hard to stick with, but if your goal is to eat low fat, here are 10 things to stop doing right now.

  • Stop Eating Low Fat Products

    Many low fat products contain many more ingredients than their regular counterparts. These include fat-replacers such as gums, flavorings, and added sodium and sugars to compensate for the lack of fat. You don't need processed low-fat products to eat low fat. Skip low fat cookies, muffins and desserts. A large low fat muffin can still pack plenty of calories, thanks to its size and its carb content. If your goal is to drop a few pounds by eating low fat, then eating these will not help you do so.

    There are some exceptions to the skip low-fat-products advice: low fat or nonfat milk, and nonfat Greek yogurt come to mind. Low fat cream cheeses and sour cream often have a surprisingly long list of ingredients for texture and flavor; reduced-fat hard cheese is fine, but in general skip rubbery fat-free cheese.

  • Stop Filling Up on Simple Carbohydrates

    It's not just fat that makes us fat. Excess sugars, or any carbohydrates in excess, will be converted into fat. White bread, rice, and pasta can be part of our diet, but a carb-heavy diet will cause us to gain weight, putting us at risk of diabetes and heart disease. A diet that's low in saturated fat and high in carbs increases the risk of heart disease, although this doesn’t exonerate saturated fat. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats has a beneficial effect on heart disease.

  • Stop Eating Fried Foods

    If you're serious about cutting back on fat, stop eating fried chicken, French fries, chips, and doughnuts. If you crave crispy fish or chicken, try using panko crumbs, and try baking your fish and chicken instead.

  • Stop Eating Meat Every Day

    Cutting out meat once or twice a week can cut our overall fat intake considerably, especially if we replace red meat, which tends to be higher in saturated fat. Not all vegetarian meals are low fat; take macaroni and cheese, for example, or fettuccine Alfredo. In many cases, it's a matter of choosing some beans or legumes for lean protein, and supplementing them with grains and vegetables. Here are some low fat vegetarian recipes to get you started.

  • Stop Skipping Meals

    Skipping meals makes it more likely you’ll graze on sugary, high-fat snacks. Many people skip breakfast, often because they're in a rush, but this is always a mistake. Eating breakfast keeps our blood sugar levels stable, provided we don’t fill up on sugary cereals or doughnuts. Here are 10 low fat breakfasts to get your day off to a good start. Don't skip meals; skip dessert or late-night snacks instead.

  • Stop Piling Your Plate High

    Watch portions and you'll automatically cut fat and calories. It’s that simple. And yet it's something we're bad at, despite numerous tools and tips to help. If we eat family style, we’re likely to pile food on to our plates, and help ourselves to more almost without thinking. Some restaurants are notorious for huge portions, making it easy for us to overeat.

    One way to help ourselves, if you'll excuse the pun, is to learn the difference between serving sizes and portions. Careful reading of labels will tell us what constitutes a given serving of a food, on which nutritional data are based. If you free-pour your cereal each morning and glance at the side of the box to see how many calories there are, you may fool yourself into thinking you're consuming only the stated 110 calories, when you could actually be consuming up to twice that much.

  • Stop Mindless Eating

    Where do you eat your meals? At your computer? in front of the TV? In the car? Do you sometimes reach into a bag of something and take a minute to realize you've eaten the whole pack? Have you ever finished your kids' leftovers, or picked at the nut bowl and appetizers at a party just because they're there? This is what we call mindless eating. Brian Wansink, a food psychologist based at Cornell University, created a number of experiments employing all kinds of tricks and gimmicks to show how easy it is to misjudge what and how much we eat. These are illustrated in his fascinating book, Mindless Eating .

  • Stop Eating Dessert Every Day

    It's an obvious point worth repeating: desserts are notorious fat (and sugar) traps. That's not to say don't ever eat it. Just don't eat it every night. Indeed, try and limit dessert to once or twice a week at most, and even then, watch your portions and be thoughtful about what you have with or on top of your dessert. As much as I love chocolate cake, pie, and ice cream, I can be very happy with berries and a spoonful or two of thick Greek yogurt.

  • Stop Feeling Hungry

    Critics tell us that eating low fat makes you hungry all the time. I've never really understood this. We know that fat helps us feel full, but there are plenty of other low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that are filling. Barbara Rolls, whose work on Volumetrics, shows us how you can eat more for less: more nutrient-dense foods for fewer calories. A simple example would be to ask yourself if you would feel fuller eating a cup of grapes or a ? cup of raisins. It's easy to feel full with lean protein, fiber and produce. But remember, the goal is to satisfy hunger, not to feel uncomfortably full. Too much of a good thing is still too much.

  • Stop Worrying About Every Diet Study

    Truth is, most diet studies are flawed in some way. Many diet studies rely on self-reporting, which can be unreliable. Others are not large enough or long enough in duration to get a definitive answer. Quite often, too, media reporting of studies leaves something to be desired, with sensationalist headlines or omission of some findings.

    Nonetheless, it's true that the reputation of low fat diets was dealt a serious blow in 2006, when a long-term study found that eating low fat failed to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease in older women. Yet some positive news from the same study was overlooked by the media: that those with the highest intake of fat who cut it the most cut their risk of breast cancer by 15-20 percent.

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