Chewing Gum Keeps You Skinny
If you pop mint gum between meals to help keep your eating in check, that habit could be backfiring, finds new research published in the journal Eating Behaviors.
How? Turns out the lingering taste of mint can reduce the palatability of healthy food, says researchers from the University of Buffalo. Just like how a swig of OJ tastes rather unpleasant after you brush your teeth, so too does eating produce after you chew mint gum.
To arrive at this conclusion, researchers had participants undergo one of two experiments: chewing either mint or fruit-flavored gum prior to completing a food reinforcement task—a computer game meant to gauge how hard people are willing to work for food like grapes and potato chips—or chewing the same flavors before every meal for several weeks.
The results: Chewing gum, no matter the flavor, decreased feelings of hunger. However—and here’s the key—chewing mint-flavored gum reduced a participant’s liking and intake of healthy foods afterwards.
In other words, chewing mint gum is a short-term fix, not a long-term solution. Sure, you might feel less hungry for a bit, but when you do eat, you’ll be more likely to grab a candy bar over a carrot.
Mint gum’s not the only dubious diet trick to watch for. Here are five more:
1. Whole wheat bread is your best option. Compared to white bread, whole wheat bread is just less bad, says Michelle Davenport, PhD, a nutrition consultant for the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center. “Your average slice of whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index score than eight ounces of Coke,” she says. The solution? Opt for brands made with whole wheat flour and ones that contain at least four grams of fiber. Avoid anything that doesn’t list “flour” or “wheat flour” as the first ingredient.
2. Cutting your fat intake helps you lose weight. No way, says Prevention advisor Ashley Koff, RD. “Healthy fats are critical to the right kind of weight loss,” she says. “I love hemp seeds, chia seeds, avocado, walnuts, and organic soy.” (Get more healthy fat ideas with our definitive guide.)
3. Eggs cause coronary heart disease—or diabetes, or are even worse than smoking…Whatever science has suggested, it’s not totally true, says Davenport. “It’s okay to have up to one egg per day, though there is no recommended intake for eggs right now,” she says. The healthiest ways to prepare your morning mainstay include sticking to water-based cooking methods like boiling, poaching, or steaming, suggests Davenport.
4. You can’t go wrong with low-fat foods. “When foods are processed to reduce fat content, they tend to increase in sugar,” says Davenport. “And sugar, as research now indicates, is the true killer.”
5. Diet soda is the best zero-calorie option. Nope, says Koff, it’s water. In fact, research suggests that the more diet soda a person drinks, the greater their risk of becoming overweight. Plus, artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods, finds an animal study from Purdue University. So do your diet a favor and stick with water. Or choose unsweetened herbal teas or and add your own herbs and spices to plain H20, suggests Koff. (If that doesn’t do it for you, consider these 20 Healthy Drink Options.)
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