Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat: And The 101 Truths That Will Help You Shed The Pounds Permanently

Paperback | May 4, 2010

byNancy L. Snyderman

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Get the real skinny on fat.

When it comes to losing weight, the false beliefs most of us cling to could fill a book–this one! As a medical doctor, medical journalist, and veteran of the diet wars, Nancy L. Snyderman knows better than almost anyone what really works and what sabotages your best efforts to shed pounds and keep them off. Do you believe any of these prevalent diet myths?

• Your weight is your fault.
• Dieting is a waste of time–most dieters regain their weight before long.
• Carbs are bad for you.
• Carbs are good for you.
• Calories don’t count–it’s the kind of food you eat that’s the problem.
• Fat is fat–it doesn’t matter where on your body you carry it.
• Diet drugs and surgeries are a magic bullet.

In Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat, Dr. Snyderman reveals exactly why these and other bogus ideas get in the way of what should be the simple and even joyful endeavor of reaching and maintaining your ideal weight. In their place, she reveals 101 surprising truths–muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat, you can eat after 8 p.m. and not gain weight, you can eat dessert for dinner when on a diet, and 98 more. But here’s the best news: Slimming down and getting healthier doesn’t have to be about deprivation or superhuman feats of willpower. Instead, you will enjoy a new relationship with food–including those treats you love the most–while feeling fabulous inside and out.

So forget the fad diets that work great . . . until they don’t, along with the negative emotions associated with everything from bathroom scales to full-length mirrors. Most of all, forget all the myths and remember what’s true: You can do this and you’ll never regret it for a minute.


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Get the real skinny on fat.When it comes to losing weight, the false beliefs most of us cling to could fill a book–this one! As a medical doctor, medical journalist, and veteran of the diet wars, Nancy L. Snyderman knows better than almost anyone what really works and what sabotages your best efforts to shed pounds and keep them off. D...

NANCY L. SNYDERMAN, M.D., F.A.C.S., is the chief medical editor for NBC News and reports for Nightly News with Brian Williams, Today, and MSNBC. She also has an academic appointment in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining NBC News, Dr. Snyderman served as a medical c...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.2 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:May 4, 2010Publisher:Potter/TenSpeed/HarmonyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307406164

ISBN - 13:9780307406163

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IntroductionVery few of us are ever entirely happy with our weight,and I hate the feeling of putting on a few extra pounds.But I’ve found some healthy and acceptable ways to getdown to a healthy weight– things that really work. Ifyou’re like I once was– tired of going on and off dietsand up and down in weight– I’m going to help you getand stay naturally fit while eating anything you want,not depriving yourself, and appreciating the wonderfulbody you have.How can I make such claims? I am a veteran of the dietwars, a doctor, and a reporter. Between medical school,my internship, and my residency, getting pregnant for thefirst time in my thirties and the second time in my forties,and doing live television, I’ve done it all: I’ve starvedmyself, and I’ve pigged out; I’ve binged, dieted, skippedmeals, and lived to tell about it.I subsisted on vanilla wafers and black coffee whileserving my residency in pediatrics. I relied on grahamcrackers and peanut butter during my surgical training.I’ve been on liquid diets and protein diets– one weekthis diet, the next week that diet. I’ve exercised in saunasuits, and I’ve dieted on carrot sticks. There are timeswhen I spent so much time poking my head in the fridgethat my nose got frostbite. Add what ever you’ve done tothis list, and I would understand. But finally, when dietbecame a four- letter word to me, I said, Enough is enough.I started making friends with food.So now I have an easy rule. I regard food as fuel. I eatfoods I like– even some things that might not be so goodfor me. As a result, I find it easier to lose weight– I just eata bit less and exercise a bit more and it falls off. I’m nota member of a health club– it’s just not my thing. I preferwalking, hiking, or biking outdoors to keep fit. I watch myweight, but I’m not obsessive about it. And I wouldn’tdeny myself something I really wanted. Every week, Itry to enjoy something from each of my four favorite foodgroups: the chocolate group, the ice- cream group, thepizza group, and the chips group. But most of the time, Ichoose healthy foods. Do I have a perfect body? Far fromit– but I know I’m healthy.Making friends with food, with diets, and with yourbody isn’t easy. And a big reason is that most of us havebeen following certain “rules” for losing weight all ourlives. These rules come and go. We are fascinated bythem; we follow them. We throw out everything we’redoing and embrace the latest rule. If it doesn’t work,we blame ourselves for messing up. The truth is thatthese rules are largely “myths,” misinformation that isoften considered to be true. Nutrition is a fairly new scienceand it’s pretty boring stuff unless you are a dietitian.But the most important thing we all need toremember is it is always changing. That constant changegenerates loads of myths, many of which I’ll explode inthis book– myths like calories don’t count, carbs are bad,and you can’t keep pounds off.How do such myths start, and why do they continue?Some myths are holdovers from our mothers and grandmothers,such as “Bread crusts will make your haircurly,” or “Gum takes seven years to pass through the digestivesystem.” Others come from fad- diet promoterswho use only part of accurate nutrition statements butdon’t tell you the whole story. Most are interested inmaking a buck, not in helping you lose weight or keep itoff. Other times, the media report news based on incompleteresearch or the half- truths these diet promotersprovide. Tips on how to eat and exercise, stemming fromthe latest pronouncements by anyone wearing a lab coator looking good in Lycra, have often been made on veryweak data. In all fairness, they may have been the bestguess at the moment. But you hear them repeated somany times that you forget they were rough guesses inthe first place and come to believe they represent hardfacts.When I began my career as a medical correspondentin the 1980s, I was frequently concerned that one day Iwould run out of medical subjects, including nutrition,to talk about. Back then, I had no way of foreseeing thebewildering and conflicting flood of diet advice thatwould continue to pour in week after week. Americanshave been bombarded with all kinds of conflicting nutritionnews: whether it’s about cholesterol and hearthealthydiets or lack of fiber as a cause of cancer, whetherit’s the latest “miracle” supplement or the dangers ofsugar and food coloring, or even whether vegetables areas healthy if they’re store bought as they are when purchasedat the farmers’ market. One day, the supplementvitamin E is magic, an antioxidant hedge against heartdisease. Then, just as vitamin companies saturate the marketwith capsules, research shows that vitamin E takerscould be more susceptible to heart attacks than those nottaking the supplements.It can seem as if every food poses a risk for cancer– andthat every food contains cancer- fighting agents. Severalyears ago, health experts promoted a low- fat diet foreveryone. Then came the high- protein diet in which promoterssaid fat is fine, but you need to steer clear of carbohydrates.Eggs used to be bad; now they are good. Butterused to be bad; now we know it’s better than margarine.There is so much misinformation and confusion aboutwhat to eat. It gets to a point where there is nothing“safe” left in the refrigerator but the ice maker.As for the shape we’re in, we get fat over the courseof years, but we want it off by next Thursday. Hardly aweek goes by without some expert somewhere issuinga new report declaring that a certain diet or pill or surgeryis the latest magic bullet for weight loss. After being a doctorfor more than thirty years, having reported on thousandsof diet and nutrition stories, and being a professionaldieter myself, I can tell you this: No magic bullet exists.What we need is a new and smart strategy for successfulweight loss. Statistics show that forty- five millionAmericans are dieting at any moment in time, and we’respending more than $30 billion a year on weight loss. Yetobesity is rarely treated successfully. We have a seriousproblem: We are the only animals on the planet that willeat ourselves into an early grave. Two centuries ago,people died of starvation. That trend is changing. Ours willbe the first generation to die from food excess. It’s insane!Since the early 1980s, Americans increasingly havegrown larger. We are ten pounds heavier, on average,than we were fifteen years ago and eat 15 percent morecalories today than in 1984. Adult obesity has doubledsince 1980, increasing in every region of the country, inboth males and females and across all age, race, and socioeconomicgroups. As we grow bigger, so have our riskfactors for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure,type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, elevated cholesterollevels, kidney failure, and certain cancers. We’re at a tippingpoint in this country, where obesity has started tocost us our longevity. Proper weight is not just a matterof looking good; it is about health. Being healthy is knowingyou can count on your body. Being healthy is aboutenjoying a well- rounded life: pursuing physical activitiesyou love, enjoying a balanced diet that makes room forall foods in moderation, and tuning in to your emotionaland spiritual health.One answer to our national paunch is to stop obsessingabout what we eat and start sorting out the soundadvice from the babble. In spite of all the conflicting information,the tried- and- true still holds: Load up on realfoods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; practiceportion control; and exercise regularly. It couldn’t be simpler.And because it’s so simple, people find it really boring.But these actions are the only safe and stable waysto lose weight.Try not to react to every new nutritional study thatcomes down the pike, either, since much of this informationwill be replaced by a new panacea next month. Andstart savoring your food, whether it’s a steaming bowl ofoatmeal or a piece of double- fudge cake you share withyour friends at a great restaurant. Food is good for you,and it’s good for your soul. Enjoy it!I feel that beyond being a myth buster, this bookshould also act as a pal. I can help you most effectivelyif I give you enough truthful information to guide youout of the confusing diet maze. Then you can say,“Enough is enough. Tomorrow I’m starting on a newcourse that is best for me.” So treat this book as a resource,a constant companion, and a lifetime guide fortaking weight off and keeping it off. Many of us havebeen fed (excuse the pun) bad information about diet,nutrition, and weight loss. Bad information means badchoices, and bad choices mean bad results– or no results.You can’t get in shape and stay healthy unless youknow the truth.This book will bring you face- to- face with the truthabout dieting and weight loss, and armed with thattruth, you’ll learn how to:• Check out information before you act on it.For example, if you were told that eating fifteengrapefruits each day would help you burn fat,would you go to the nearest supermarket andstock up? Or would you check it out first?• Make informed decisions using sound,straight forward information. Question whethera popular diet will really work for you.• Learn to make a friend of food and exercise.This will allow you to safely sprinkle the not- so healthystuff through your diet and not feel deprived.• Understand that being overweight isn’t alwaysthe result of overeating and under -exercising. There’s a lot more to fatness thanlack of willpower. For many of you, being overweightis not your fault. Yet there are still manyfactors that are within your power to change.* How you eat can lower your risk of heart disease,stroke, and certain cancers.* Discover little- known yet powerful facts andmotivating ideas that can keep you trim andenergetic.* Make important permanent changes– the kindyou can live with for the rest of your life– inyour eating habits.* Escape the forbidden- food mentality, allowyourself some leeway, and learn to enjoy foodagain with my Treat Yourself Diet– and loseweight in the process.Whether your weight- loss goal is 5 pounds, 50pounds, or more, you can achieve it in some of the mostenjoyable ways possible– by eating the foods you love insatisfying moderation. It’s not about becoming supermodelthin or adhering to someone else’s ideal, either–it’s about being healthy and feeling great. And it’s nevertoo late to begin the journey. I am living proof thatdecades-old diet patterns can, with intervention andcommitment, be changed. I am at peace with food. AndI want you to be at peace, too.From the Hardcover edition.