Dieting Myths & FAQ’s

Why Should You Avoid Crash or Fad Diets?

There is nothing magical about fad diets. Their secret involves significant and drastic reduction in calories. People following these diets are basically starving themselves by eating watery soups and vegetables. They can’t help but lose a lot of water weight and not fat. Crash diets severely limit food choices or are unbalanced in some way. For example, only sprouts or boiled vegetables are suggested eliminating all other food choices. Since, fad diets do nothing to change long term eating habits, most fad dieters’ gain back more weight than they lost as soon as they go back to their old ways of eating.

What is Invisible Fat?

This is the hidden fat present in all foods in varying amounts. For example, nuts and oilseeds like peanuts, sesame seeds etc. contain plenty of invisible fat as compared to vegetables which contain small amounts of it whereas cereals and pulses contain moderate amounts of invisible fat. To put it simply, you get 26 grams of invisible fat from 100 grams of peanuts in comparison 100 grams of spinach contains only 0.7 grams of invisible fat. If you are on a weight loss program, it is important to remember that these can add on to the total fat (and calories) consumed in a day.

Sugar, Jaggery or Honey – which one is better?

Sugar, jaggery or honey provide you approximately the same amount of calories (1 teaspoon = 20 calories) and no appreciable amounts of other nutrients. It is better to use jaggery for recipes (but restrict the quantities) as compared to sugar and honey as it is a good source of iron. You don’t have to go on a sugar eliminating diet to lose weight but it is a good idea to cut on sugar and to satisfy your sweet cravings by eating small portions of a low calorie dessert or a piece of fruit instead.

What are Empty Calories?

Calories obtained from foods that are completely void of nutrients are called “empty calories”. Aerated drinks, refined sugar and alcohol are foods that provide you only calories (empty calories) which could lead to weight gain as all excess calories are converted into fat and stored in your body. So, it is best to avoid these foods to effectively lose weight.

Are Fruits Healthier than their Juices?

Yes, fruits are healthier than their juices because the process of extracting juice removes all the fibre present in the fruit. Fibre is essential as it aids digestion, relieves constipation and lowers blood cholesterol levels. It adds bulk to your diet and keeps you satiated for a longer period of time. If a glass of fruit juice is what you want to have, do not strain fruit juice so as to retain its fibre. Also resist the temptation to sweeten the juice with sugar to avoid loading it with empty calories, like in the recipe of Fruity Refresher

Rice or Wheat – which one is healthier?

Whole wheat is richer in fibre than the polished rice we are used to consuming. Rice has approximately the same calories as whole wheat and hence is not more fattening. But the kind of rice you choose is of utmost importance. Brown rice (unpolished rice) abounds in fibre which aids in digestion while helping to lower your blood cholesterol levels whereas white rice (polished rice) loses this important nutrient (i.e. fibre) during processing. If you don’t like the taste of brown rice, it is wiser to opt for whole wheat or eat small portions of white rice with large servings of vegetables (as they are rich in fibre). Alternatively a one-meal combination of rice cooked with plenty of vegetables, like in the recipe of Vegetable Biryani is also a healthy option.

Do You Need to Eliminate Dairy Products, If You Wish to Lose Weight?

You don’t need to eliminate dairy products when you are on a reducing diet, as they are the biggest source of calcium that is essential for healthy bones and teeth. They also provide substantial amounts of protein and vitamins A and B. But you should replace high fat dairy products (like full fat milk and milk powder, curds, cottage cheese etc.) with their low fat alternatives (skim or low fat milk products) when you aim to lose weight. Low fat dairy products are equally good sources of the above said nutrients, with fewer calories and traces of fat. However, you need to skip dairy foods like cheese, cream and butter, as these are very high in fat.

Are Soups and Salads Always Low in Calories?

It is true that soups and salads are nourishing as they make use of a wide variety of raw vegetables, fresh fruits and sprouts but we often make them unhealthy by using salad dressings like mayonnaise and by loading soups with butter, cream, cheese etc. These ingredients are very high in calories, fat and cholesterol and do no good to your body but rather increase your weight. Instead you should make use of flavorful herbs and spices to prepare delectable soups and salads which are healthy, tasty and low in calories.

Besides the dietary guidelines I’ve discussed above, high-self esteem is equally important to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle – and it’s a must if successful weight loss is one of your goals. What’s more important is that you feel good about who you are and how you look rather than setting unrealistic weight loss targets. Learn to love your body and put yourself in a more positive light. So stop starving and do not junk your body by eating fast foods. Instead, let’s get introduced to our vast repertoire of ingredients, herbs and spices and reacquaint ourselves with fresh vegetables and fruits and cook them correctly using 1 teaspoon of oil.