Make no mistake, those of us at The Greenlaw Report aren’t crazy about dieting in general. The majority of diets out there are no longer relevant due to the major deficit in nutritional value across our food supplies. Between the lack of basic nutrition and an increase in the consumption of processed foods, increased sugar and salt quantities and the sheer confusion over what is and isn’t healthy and here we are. With that being said, even the best of us can get caught up in some of the latest trends and diet fads. Some diets promise such amazing results, they seem too good to be true. If this sounds all too familiar, or if you happen to find yourself chasing the latest, celebrity endorsed, hottest diet in Hollywood; here are a handful of myths and mistakes that should send up the red flag alert that even these latest diets are a hoax.
It’s only appropriate we start this article with quite possibly the most controversial meal of the day, breakfast. To eat breakfast, or not to eat breakfast, that is the question. There is a good chance that you could receive a different answer regarding breakfast with each person you ask as to its overall value in dieting. The word, “breakfast”, defines its role in our daily meals quite simply. For most, breakfast is the meal that breaks up the fasting period, which naturally occurs during sleep. Be wary of diets or programs that encourage you to skip this essential meal. With proper nutrition, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only does a proper breakfast help establish the body’s metabolism for the day, it should help nourish both the brain and body after an extended period of rest.
For those of you who need no convincing of the benefits of breakfast, let’s look at one of the staples for a solid breakfast, protein. Although we do not endorse it, people that start their day with a bowl of cereal and milk are off to a semi-decent start. If we ignore the cereal part, which is often sugar-loaded, over-processed and providing zero nutritional content, at least milk is a decent start when it comes to protein. The problem is, the eight or so grams of protein from the milk is not enough to set yourself up to succeed throughout the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. Protein is not only a critical building block for the brain and body on every level, but it also helps with satiation throughout the morning and early afternoon. This prevents early snacking prior to lunch or, even worse, overeating at lunchtime. Adding a hard-boiled egg or some almonds to your breakfast can give you that extra protein punch needed to get you to lunch without searching the office kitchen for snacks before lunch.
Speaking of snacks, this leads us to our next mistake that some dieters will make. Again, opinions on snacking can fall across the board. First off, ask yourself if you are actually hungry or if you are actually just thirsty? Most of us spend our lives dehydrated and thirst can actually disguise itself as hunger. For more on water and what we suggest to remain hydrated, check out our series on water here. Before you go out and find a snack, drink a glass or two of water and see if that does the trick. If you are in fact hungry, make sure you are selecting smart snacks and make sure your mid-morning snack doesn’t turn into an early lunch. Serving size and content are critical when keeping a snack from becoming a meal. If more than four hours have passed between breakfast and lunch, a snack can be a good thing. Make sure it contains a good source of protein or healthy fats. This way, a snack will satisfy you until your next meal.
At one point or another, we have all been guilty of this next dieting mistake. Noon finally rolls around and off you go in search of lunch. Breakfast was deficient in protein or you are just super hungry but you want to stay committed to healthy eating, so off you go to the nearest salad bar. Loading up that plastic container with leafy greens and vegetables is the perfect compromise, right? The answer here is, sometimes. It is just as easy to get carried away adding all those extras like cheese, croutons and bacon bits. A little scoop of this and a bit of that will quickly tip the scale from healthy to overkill. It is critical to remain diligent when keeping that lunchtime salad proportionate between, greens, protein and flavor. Don’t let a momentary lapse of reason allow for that extra scoop of dressing.
Finally! We have made it all the way to dinner and have managed to stay within the daily goals we have set for ourselves. Or the salad we had for lunch was a little heavy on the cheese and croutons. No problem; let’s get back on track by skipping carbs for dinner. This is a mistake made all too frequently. Dinner is usually planned around a protein and popular belief has us fooled that adding a carb will slow or prevent weight loss. When done properly, you can enjoy a carbohydrate with dinner and lose weight. Look at it this way, instead of eating an entire protein serving, cut it in half and add a carb such as a baked potato or brown rice and your calorie count will actually be lower than just going for that whole piece of chicken or salmon. Add the additional benefit of added fiber to your meal and adding that carb is now a win-win.
Now we have finished our meals for the day without doing major damage, but we aren’t home free just yet. There are two things left that can sabotage any diet or nutritional program before the day is done; alcohol and dessert or bad foods. It’s easy to ignore the simple fact that alcohol adds calories with every glass and has done in plenty of diets on a Friday out after a long week. A big night of drinking can blank out a week of following a strict nutritional protocol just as easily as it can blur your night’s activities. We are not saying that an adult beverage isn’t in order after a long day but remember there is a fairly large difference in calories between one or two glasses of wine a night.
If it isn’t a beer or a cocktail to help settle the day’s events, the other option is usually a dessert or food that you know isn’t going to end up on any list of healthy foods. While most people do their best to avoid these culinary indulgences, we think a better plan is “everything in moderation”. There’s a time and a place for everything, even a piece of cake or a slice of pizza. It has been proven that those who entirely avoid some of their favorite foods just because they don’t qualify as “healthy” are more likely to fall off the wagon than those who indulge themselves here and there. Food is one of the best parts of life. Yes, most of us are looking to live healthier for longer but what’s the fun in life if you can’t go out and enjoy it here and there? One of the main reasons to eat a nutritionally dense diet is not just to lose weight or lead a healthier life; it’s to enjoy the life we have. So, as long as it’s not every night or habitual, enjoy a drink or two with friends or enjoy one of those desserts in your freezer that usually go to your kids. In the long run, by allowing yourself to cheat a little here and there, you will actually be much better off.