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Whether you're trying to lose pounds or just maintain a healthy weight, it seems there are so many food "rules" we must abide by.
Eat this, but not that ... Be careful not to eat after 8 pm… Don't drink red wine ... No, wait, red wine is good for you …
And on, and on, as these silly rules go. So how do you know what to believe?
The truth is, there are many facts and myths about food. Let's work through some of them here.
1. Eat only one bite of dessert instead of the whole thing.
MYTH: While there are some people with superhuman strength who can withstand the temptation of ordering a dessert only to eat one bite of it, most of us do not possess such strength in the face of gooey, yummy goodness. Does that mean dessert is out forever for the health conscious? Not at all.
If you must order a sweet treat, be sure to plan ahead for it.
Cut out that appetizer, glass of wine or bread at the beginning of dinner and you will be able to make room for the calories a dessert provides. A little sacrifice and planning go a long way to being able to enjoy your dessert reasonably.
2. Box up half of your entree right as the waiter brings your plate.
MYTH & FACT: Again, for some people it takes superhuman strength to order that gianormous plate of food and not eat most or all of it. If you want to box your food up straight away to avoid over-eating, by all means do so. However, this one is tricky, because your dining partners are definitely going to take notice and some fine dining or business meetings may not feel doggie-bag-friendly.
You can still control how much you eat in many other ways. Customizing your order to include more vegetables, ordering the sauce or dressing on the side, and filling up on water before the meal arrives, are other effective ways to cut calories and reduce your food intake during your meal.
Don't let the question of "to box or not to box" be detrimental to your dining experience.
3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
MYTH: Unless you have round-the-clock access to a unoccupied bathroom, this advice is not only inconvenient, but a bit outdated.
Just as some people can sleep six hours a day and be totally refreshed and ready for the day, there are others who can drink four or six glasses of water and be fine.
A great rule of thumb is to drink as much water as you need for your urine to be clear or faint in color. Whether that is two canteens of water or six glasses, it's fine. Speaking of water ...
4. You should stay away from any beverage other than water.
MYTH: Of course water has unique health benefits and is calorie free (which is always a plus when living healthy). However, juices are a great source of vitamins and can provide full or partial servings of fruit for the day.
A food fact is that you want to stay away from "juices" that are less than 100% fruit juice, or you will be consuming non-beneficial calories and getting little to no nutritional value or servings of fruit.
Once you make the switch to 100% juice, that glass of OJ or cranberry juice will do wonders and also help you along to making your daily goal of fruit servings.
5. Late night eating is a recipe to becoming overweight ... and fast!
MYTH: Night owls and 2nd shift workers will be happy to know that a calorie is a calorie; whether consumed at 8 am or 8 pm. There is no truth to the idea that one should avoid eating at 11 pm at all costs.
If you work a later shift or have an uncharacteristically long day, this rule would likely mean that you would go to bed hungry ... which is a no-no.
A variation of this rule -- that actually makes more sense -- is to limit how much you eat late at night and try to be done eating about 2-3 hours before you plan to sleep. That window of digestion gives your body time to break your food down and allows for better sleep.
Wading through facts and fiction
It's certainly not easy to navigate the dos and don'ts of the world of food, especially while you're making the transition to a healthier lifestyle.
Following rules and memorizing supposed nutrition facts is one way to keep yourself on track; but, a better way to leading a healthy lifestyle is to learn what makes sense for your body to maintain long-term weight loss and stick to it.
And that's a fact!
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