Monday, August 8, 2011

Diet Rules To Break #5 and #6

Mountain Village Condos from the Gondola
Telluride, Colorado - May, 2011

Greeting from Beech Mountain, North Carolina.  Actually, I'm writing this on Saturday morning so I'm not there yet - I just wish I was.  Had some extra time and decided to go ahead and finish out the Diet Rules to Break series by combining #5 and #6 into a single post.  Once we arrive in Beech Mountain, I'm going to be eager to share our adventures there although the minute we hit those 70 degree daytime highs, my energy level will soar and those hiking boots will call.  Can't wait!!

To be honest, I had another reason for combining the last two rules.  You are more than welcome to heartily disagree, but of all six rules, I felt that number 5 really did not belong.  But I'm getting ahead of my self - here it is copied directly the Family Circle Magazine (2/11)

Old Rule: Switch to diet soda. You'll consume fewer calories and lose weight.

Break It: Some research shows that people who drink a lot of artificially sweetened beverages actually have higher BMIs than those who don't—possibly because people think they can splurge while drinking a diet drink (like having a Diet Coke with a double cheeseburger). The super-sweet flavor of artificial sweeteners also might trigger cravings for sugary treats and lead to overeating.

Revised Plan: Swapping high-cal drinks for diet versions isn't a bad thing, but don't use that swap to justify your supersize combo. A diet soda doesn't "cancel out" calories in your meal! If you have trouble keeping sugar cravings under control, you might be better off skipping sweet drinks entirely—even the calorie-free ones—and staying hydrated with water or seltzer instead. 

Sharon's Take On This One:  Not sure if it was rule itself, the advice or something else, but I just felt this didn't belong.  For a "newbie" not yet educated in calorie content, nutritional values, healthy choices as a way of life, etc., this whole concept could be totally confusing because the rule itself, the reason for breaking it and the revised plan all seemed a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to me.  Only in the very last few words are you presented with the best advice and even then, it says you MIGHT be better off skipping sweet drinks altogether.  You may disagree, but I'm pretty firmly convinced that there is NO place for calorie laden beverages in the plan of someone trying to lose pounds and/or get healthy.  Diet drinks aren't the best option either, but they are certainly a better choice than the other.  IMHO, this rule just didn't fit.

Now Rule number 6 was a totally different story.  It most definitely fit and directly addresses one of my favorite healthy eating arguments:

Old Rule: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the healthiest foods—such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products—are stocked.

Break It: This rule is impractical. Sure, there are tons of tempting treats (like high-fat chips, candy, and packaged cookies) at the store's center. But there are also some of the best foods for weight loss. Whole grains, all-natural cereals, and whole wheat pastas are loaded with feel-full fiber that helps you eat less. Also residing in the center: nuts, dried and canned beans, and tuna and salmon in pouches, which are among the top choices when it comes to protein.

Revised Plan: "Be discerning whatever aisle you're in," says Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, a dietitian based in Chicago. Choose grains like cereals and pastas that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving (5 grams is even better) and have "whole" listed in their first ingredient. Avoid foods with sugar at the top of the ingredient list, as well as anything that contains partially hydrogenated oils (meaning there are some trans fats).

Sharon's Take On This One:  I've been listening to this RULE  since the first time I set foot in a Weight Watcher's meeting over 30 years ago and I've always disagreed with it.  Oh, I fully understand the premise of fresh fruit, veggies, meat, dairy, etc. being around the perimeter, but one only needs to read the revision for a list of the many things found elsewhere in the store.  This really is a very OLD mindset that may have been more applicable decades ago when access to farmer's markets and locally grown food was more difficult.  We also did not know things we now know about what actually happens in processing plants or between the grower/processing plant/shelves in the grocery store.  Currently, I spend LESS time shopping the perimeter of the store because if at all possible, I purchase produce, meat & dairy elsewhere.  I do strongly agree that reading ingredient lists of everything you buy is very, very important.  There are vast differences in nutritional value among products which LOOK the same on the shelf!  

Final thoughts on the 6 Diet Rules To Break:  I really enjoyed this article and appreciate the feedback you've provided on each rule.  It has further served to remind me that each one of us has to carve our own path in finding what works.  I loved the comments where you indicated a rule that hit home with you and realizing that I'd had a completely different response to it.  I suspect it will be the same with my reaction to the rule on diet drinks.  This is not an issue for me and really never has been, so I reacted more strongly to having that included as a rule.  For lots of you, sodas (diet or otherwise) are very much a problem and I'll be anxious to see your response as to whether or not you switched.  All in all, the posts served their purpose.  We thought and we reacted and hopefully, we considered changes where needed.  

Do you shop ONLY the perimeter of your grocery store?  Do you buy all food at a regular grocery store?  What is your philosophy regarding diet drinks?


  1. Diet sodas are still too much acid on the teeth. That is the main reason why I try to avoid them.

    There are certain aisles, such as the candy aisle and the cake mix/muffin aisle that I would be better staying out of, but other than those areas, I shop the whole grocery store. When I don't, I'm missing ingredients.

    :-) Marion

  2. Oh, diet drinks. I do not drink them AT ALL. I'm a confirmed member of the school of thought that artificial sweeteners are POISON... even worse than real sugar. I gave up drinking soda three years ago and have only had some on rare occasions five or six times since... and when I do, it's the real thing... not necessarily Coke, but the non-poison sweetened variety.

    The perimeter rule is good if taken with a grain of salt. Some stores put all kinds of crappy food on the perimeter these days. I like the discerning eye in every aisle idea better.

    And have fun on your trip.

  3. I don't drink soda but I do drink a lot of Crystal Lite and have a ton of artificial sweetener in tea and some foods/gum. As you know, I tried to cut it out. Seemed to backfire on me and I missed the taste. I don't use it as an excuse to compensate, like eating a Big Mac, but I do wonder if I'd be better off retraining my taste buds to like things less sweet. And I don't love the idea of all that fake stuff I am ingesting.

    Which brings me to the next point. My theory: in and ideal world we'd all eat less processed foods. But, for convenience, I have some stuff that "comes from the center of the store."

  4. I've largely cut out carbonated beverages because, the carbonation tends to make me hold water. I try to avoid artificial sweeteners, as I believe they are unhealthy. Right now, I'm not in a place to substitute honey for sugare or the artificial stuff, so I'm largely (but not completely) without anything sweet. I think that is the reason, I'm enjoying fruit so much now, besides this is the best time of year for it.

    As for shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, I agree it is an old rule when farmer's markets weren't as abundant. I often buy the perimeter items there. I also shop the middle for various other ingredients, but it is a rare thing for me to buy a prepared meal. I've always had issues with frozen meals, even the TV dinners we had as children. I always wondered what I was really eating. The only aisle I avoid completely, is the ice cream one!

  5. I do not drink diet sodas or Crystal Light any more. I believe they are poison, and I know they are poison to ME, as the artificial sweeteners act the same as sugar in the blood and distort blood glucose numbers. For a hypoglycemic, that is not acceptable. I only drink a little morning coffee, then water, water, water, sometimes with lemon, lime, or orange slices.

    I live in a very small town, so I shop a regular grocery store. I spend a lot of time in the produce section. I do shop the other aisles for my tuna, Gatorade, condiments, and Husband's milk and ice cream, but I learned long ago not to buy the packaged and processed convenience foods. Yuk! And I love to go to our little farmers' market.

  6. I *mostly* shop the perimeter, because the foods I eat most are there. But I do make forays down the other aisles. Where else would I get my oats, tuna, spices, pickles, and chocolate chips? :)

    I think this is a good rule *as a general guideline*, but not as an absolute. Not for most of us, anyway. Besides, it bears mentioning that at most grocery stores, the bakery aisle is on the perimeter--say, there's a loophole I never thought about before. Where are my keys? I have a perimeter to shop! :)

  7. Over the past few years, I've switched over to water but always dropped back into soda as a habit. Since starting my weight-loss journey, I'm a water-only girl. I carry a bottle of water everywhere, even the movies, so I'm not tempted to get a soda.

    Grocery shopping...if it's me on my own, I tend to go in and get what's on my list and then get out. I've realized that when I stop to peruse is when I pick up the cookies and ice cream that wasn't on my list but I decided I needed.

  8. Diet Sodas: I've heard that 'new rule' in various and sundry forms over the past few years. For me, diet sodas/splenda are not poison. If I was a perfect person I would cut them out of my life, but I'm not so they are still here. I did go from drinking ONLY diet coke all day to drinking water all day, and one diet coke a day. I don't think they magically make you gain weight. And someone who is serious about losing weight would not be so stupid as to supersize their order because they were drinking a diet soda. However, before I started losing weight, I did routinely have a brownie and a diet coke... And I do agree that for me, I usually want a 'treat' with my diet coke It would not do for me to drink diet cokes all day.

    Perimeter: I do shop the perimeter, but not because someone told me that! That's just where the food I need is stored (LOL at Cammy's observation about the bakery.) If you can believe it, before I started this last time down the scale, I rarely visited the produce department. Weird, huh? Forays into the center are only for specific items. I seldom 'window-shop' the center aisles. Too much dangerous stuff there.

  9. I am a diet soda drinker. It is a vice I would like to break, and have a few times, but, alas, I still do, and daily.

    I can afford to shop for good food that tastes great. I try to be very mindful of where my food comes from and how it is processed. When I shop I generally go to 4 different places. Each shop has something unique (like fresh, local produce) or good quality grass fed beef. I have the luxury of time to spend on shopping and enjoy it more and more. I, do, buy items in the center isles for convenience (like Karen said), but also because that is where the PB and beans are. michele

  10. Diet drinks: I cut out all artificial sweeteners over a year ago. I also mostly avoid sugar (aside from gels and drinks during heavy training). Personally, I think artificial sweeteners are just chemicals, and we should be putting food, rather then chemicals in our body.

    Totally agree with you about the perimeter shopping. Quite frankly, the bakery department is on the perimeter, and that's where I have to be the most careful anyways.