When it comes to healthy eating, it seems that the one way to truly get the results you want is to eat nutritious food in moderation. Yet, having the necessary self-control and discipline to make the switch from sweets and junk food can be hard enough that everyone has seen or heard of at least a few diets that seem to offer shortcuts. Unfortunately, nearly all of the tips that would seek to let you stay healthy without eating healthy are false. At their most benign, many healthy eating shortcuts or common-sense food myths simply guide you to eat certain foods and shun others, with no effects. At their worst, diet fads can be dangerous to follow or be detrimental to your health and well-being.
One particularly common shortcut to healthy eating is the relatively recent trend of drinking sugar-free versions of sodas with your food. People of course naturally believe this, because it seems straightforward that eliminating an overly common component of your food from at least part of your meals appears to be a good thing. However, the effects of replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners can be surprising. Granted, many claims of the effects of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are blown out of proportion. However, one notable effect of essentially tricking your body is that the trick works too well: your body produces the insulin necessary to process the influx of sugar expected, yet it does not receive that sugar. What follows is your body absorbing more sugar (just from the other foods you eat instead of the soda that lacks it) and more food cravings for that wanted sugar. Essentially, your aim to take in the same amount of food with less sugar can result in wanting, even more, food, with more sugar to meet your deficit.
It seems ingrained into the public consciousness that it’s healthier to eat food earlier in the day rather than eating a big meal in the evening, and that a small breakfast can help you to get the day started right and make healthier decisions, food-wise. However, it seems as though this is blatantly false. Eating in the evening is often thought of as providing your body calories that it can’t burn in time, essentially stocking up only fat right before bed. Instead, eating a big meal in the evening can rewire your hunger. Once you get into the habit of eating later in the day, your body learns that evening is mealtime.
With repeated eating in the evening, your body will begin to produce the hormones in the evening, making you hungry for your impending big meal, but will hold off on badgering you for food for the rest of the day. And with breakfast, the same logic holds: instead of eating a small meal and having to follow it up throughout the day with more food, eating a big breakfast can hold you over for the majority of the day and enable you to stay healthier, provided you only eat if you are hungry, and ignore traditional meal times that determine when you eat your food.