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10 Diet Rules Meant to be Broken

Some food 'dos and don'ts are best ignored, experts say.
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10 Food Rules to Ignore continued...

8. Bread is fattening, nuts are fattening, pasta is fattening.

"It's not what you eat that contributes to weight gain," says Heller. "It's how much you eat that matters most."

Whole-wheat bread, for example, is a great source of nutrients, and it won't make you gain weight more than any other food with the same number of calories.

9. All calories are equal.

While it's true that 1,400 calories is 1,400 calories no matter how you slice the cheesecake, experts say certain foods have a greater ability to fill you up before they fill you out. These tend to be fiber-rich, water-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Further, Heller says, you'll get more nutrients from, say, a 100-calorie apple than from a 100-calorie portion of white bread.

"All calories are equal if all you're doing is counting calories to lose weight," Heller says. "But if you care about how you are losing weight, or controlling your hunger, or the health of your body, then no, all calories are not of equal value."

10. If you don't clean your plate, you're wasting food (don't forget those starving children Mom told you about).

Tying emotions to eating (like when you feel guilty about leaving food on your plate) sets the stage for emotional overeating, Aronowitz says. If you've been taught that cleaning your plate is the best way to show appreciation for a meal, she says, instead show your gratitude with verbal praise, by asking for the recipe, or by sending a thank-you gift or note the next day.

"Food is simply a source of fuel for the body -- not an emotional payoff or payment," says Aronowitz. If you just don't feel right leaving the table until you've cleaned your plate, she says, underestimate your hunger and put less food on your plate to begin with.

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Reviewed on December 19, 2007

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