Dieting is always easier said than done! It’s hard to say “no” when you want to eat something tasty, and it’s difficult to know what diet and exercise plan to follow. Many websites (and experts) will tell you that drastically cutting back on your food choices isn’t the way to go, but that you should just cut calories and “eat everything in moderation”. Well, according to a new study, that approach to dieting may be totally wrong!
More Variety = Less Healthy
If someone tells you that it’s alright to eat certain less-than-healthy food items as long as you eat them in moderation, they may be leading you down the wrong path. According to the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, eating a wider variety of foods is NOT the healthier option!
Scientists from these schools conducted a study, examining data from nearly 6,900 participants of all ages and races. The researchers examined a number of factors, including how many different foods the participants ate in a week, the range of healthy and unhealthy food items consumed, and the number of calories consumed per item. Not only did they examine their diet habits, but they examined how the diet habits affected the participants over the course of five years.
Want to know what they discovered? Simple: the wider variety of foods you eat, the higher your risk of gaining weight!
Of the participants in the study, those who ate the widest variety of foods gained the most weight over the five years, with 120% more gains (in waist size alone) than the other participants. Those who consumed the fewest number of foods (the least variety in their diet) gained the least amount of weight.
What caused all this weight gain? Oddly enough, it wasn’t the number of calories alone, but it was the food choices the participants made. Those who ate the widest variety of foods tended to add more and more foods to their diet, and many of them were less than healthy. Processed meat, soda, and desserts were consumed alongside fruits and veggies. In fact, the wider variety of foods they ate, the LESS veggies and fruits they consumed. Not only were they eating MORE unhealthy foods, but they reduced their intake of healthy foods!
What does this mean for you? How can you take the results of this study and make it work for you? Simple: eat fewer foods, and you’ll be less likely to gain weight!
Many people make the mistake of trying to add too much variety to their diets, eating a wide range of foods in order to stop themselves of growing tired of certain food items. While this may work initially, the plan will eventually backfire. In your efforts to add more variety, you’ll branch out into adding unhealthy foods to your diet. In the end, you’ll eat more than you should, gaining a lot more weight than is healthy.
What should you be eating? Clearly you should be eating a lot of fruits and veggies, along with healthy proteins, fats, and carbs. Stick with the basic healthy foods, and don’t add too much variety to your diet. Cook meals with the same ingredients, and you’ll find that it will be much easier to resist the temptation to add more and more foods to your diet. Keeping your ingredients limited is the best way to stay on track with your diet and avoid the temptation of more, unhealthy foods!