Everything in Moderation? Maybe Not So Much

For a long time diet experts have told us to vary our food choices because eating too much of the same thing supposedly slowed weight loss down.

Well now it turns out you can probably eat just about whatever you want, whether it's toast with jelly four times a day, spinach and kale (as if), or my favorite, pralines and cream.

Of course, you have to eat everything in moderation, but now experts are finding that it's maybe not so important to vary our diets.

Long a directive of Weight Watchers (which believes eating too much of the same thing inhibits your body's ability to drop that weight), now having diversity in your diet may not be so important. Now it seems doing that won't slow down your metabolism, as always thought.

"Eat everything in moderation’ has been a long-standing dietary recommendation, but without much empiric supporting evidence in populations. We wanted to characterize new metrics of diet diversity and evaluate their association with metabolic health,” newswise.com quotes Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Ph.D., first author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

Using data from 6,814 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a study of whites, blacks, Hispanic-Americans and Chinese-Americans in the United States, the authors measured diet diversity through different measures. These included the total count (number of different foods eaten in a week), evenness (the distribution of calories across different foods consumed), and dissimilarity (the differences in food attributes relevant to metabolic health, such as fiber, sodium or trans-fat content).

Researchers evaluated how diet diversity was associated with change in waist circumference five years after the beginning of the study and with onset of Type 2 diabetes 10 years later. Waist circumference is an important indicator of central fat and metabolic health.

But when evaluating both food count and evenness, more diversity in the diet was not linked to better outcomes, according to newswise.com. Participants who had the greatest food dissimilarity actually experienced more central weight gain, with a 120 percent greater increase in waist circumference than participants with the lowest food dissimilarity.

 Researchers also examined how diet quality relates to metabolic health.

At ten years, higher diet quality was associated with about a 25 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“An unexpected finding was that participants with greater diversity in their diets, as measured by dissimilarity, actually had worse diet quality. They were eating less healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and more unhealthy foods, such as processed meats, desserts and soda,” says Otto. “This may help explain the relationship between greater food dissimilarity and increased waist circumference.”

 Americans with the healthiest diets actually eat a relatively small range of healthy foods,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

“These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.”


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