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Eating Habits That Can Make You Gain Weight
Part Two

How and what you eat can make a difference in how much you weigh.

Not eating enough fiber.
If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your daily diet, it means that you aren’t eating enough whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. This habit can make you gain weight because you are missing out on weight control benefits.

Research at Penn State University has found that the volume of food you eat is directly linked to how full you feel after a meal. The “heaviest” types of food that are filling but are relatively low in calories are foods that contain the most fiber and water like vegetables and fruits. If you are eating mostly refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread, you can end up eating more than you need to satisfy your hunger because refined carbs are not as filling as high-fiber food.

Food that is high in fiber takes longer to digest and keeps you from feeling hungry faster between meals. It also takes you longer to chew fibrous food. Eating slower gives your brain and stomach time to realize that you are full.

Lastly, a 1997 study suggests that for every gram of fiber you eat, you may be absorbing seven fewer calories. The researchers speculate that because fiber leaves the body undigested, the calories in fiber-rich food are less easily absorbed.

Another study found that women who double their daily fiber intake from 12 to 24 grams absorb 90 fewer calories a day while men going from 18 to 36 grams of fiber absorb about 130 fewer calories.

Drinking excess calories.
It’s not only the calories that you eat that you should be aware of but the calories that you drink as well. Drinking excess calories is a common weight loss mistake that many people make because liquid calories aren’t as obvious as food calories are.

For example, four cookies equal 200 calories (the average cookie is approximately 50 calories) while a large 16-ounce tumbler of iced tea (powdered commercial mix) is equivalent to 180 calories. Someone trying to lose weight would have enough sense to avoid the cookies but may think nothing of guzzling down the iced tea and even asking for a refill.

A Purdue University study also found that people will usually eat less when they know they have eaten too many calories but they don’t make any adjustments when they have drank the same amount of calories. The study consisted of 15 healthy people who were divided into two groups. One group was told to eat 450 calories worth of jellybeans a day. The other group was instructed to drink the same amount of calories in the form of soft drinks (the equivalent of one liter of cola). After two weeks, the two groups switched. Whenever each group ate the extra calories from the candy, they made adjustments in their diet so they did not gain any weight. But when they drank the soft drinks, they made no such adjustment and thus, gained weight. The researchers speculate that liquids do not make us feel full the same way that solid food does. If you want to lose weight, think of a drink as a dessert or a snack.

Overeating “diet” food.
The reason you buy low-fat cookies or low-carb chocolate bars is to save on calories. But if you have the habit of eating double or triple servings because “anyway, it’s low-fat or low-carb”, then you will be in for a rude surprise.

When low-fat diets were popular, people were gaining weight because of the “Snackwell Cookie Syndrome”. Snackwell is the manufacturer of a popular non-fat cookie. Believing that non-fat meant zero calories, people would finish one or two boxes instead of having just one or two cookies.

Now that low-carb diets are in, people on the Atkins and South Beach Diet are doing the same thing. According to an article in USA Today by Nancy Hellmich, “Experts staffing the Atkins customer information service are getting calls and questions online from disappointed dieters who can't understand why they aren't losing weight. The problem: Dieters are eating too many of these new low-carb protein bars, muffins and brownie mixes, which are low in carbohydrates but often high in calories.”

Hellmich reports that the clinic of Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of “The South Beach Diet” has its share of patients who “have gotten tripped up by eating too many low-carb, high-calorie products”. Marie Almon, a registered dietician who works for Agatston, told Hellmich that “one woman on the diet was treating herself twice a day to a piece of low-carb cheesecake and she was wondering why she was gaining weight”.

No matter which way you look at it and no matter which diet format you follow, whether low-fat or low-carb, calories still matter. So don’t go overboard on diet products.

What about diet soft drinks that use artificial sweeteners? These drinks are truly zero calories (or below 5 calories, which is legally considered “zero”) but research suggests that some people tend to eat more when they have a diet soft drink. This could be because they subconsciously believe they can have that second serving since they are already saving calories or because the body reacts to the artificial sweetener as if it was real sugar and makes them hungrier.

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