People take in more calories when eating a varied diet
We’ve all been told that eating a variety of foods is key to losing weight and staying healthy.
But eating too many different types of food can actually lead to weight gain by delaying you from feeling full and not keeping track your food intake, leading to you consuming more calories.
Led by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the report noted that there is no consensus on what so-called ‘dietary diversity’ is or how it is measured.
The authors say that although eating many types of foods could keep us from getting bored with our diets, it also makes us more prone to adding in unhealthy foods, such as doughnuts, cookies and sodas, with the belief that it’s okay to consume ‘in moderation’.
Munching on different types of foods could actually leading to taking in more calories and to weight gain, a new report has warned (file image)
For the report, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, a panel of doctors and researchers reviewed several articles on dietary diversity that were published between 2000 and 2017.
The authors said they found no evidence that eating a more varied diet encouraged people to eat better or promoted weight control.
They said one major issue is there is no across-the-board definition for dietary diversity.
Therefore, some people think it means tracking how many food groups they eat and other believe it means making sure there is an equal number of calories from everything they eat.
The authors said that filling your plate with more food options in one meal can delay your sense of being full and cause you to consume more calories.
In a 2009 study cited by the report, adding ketchup or mayonnaise to French fries and whipped cream to brownies delayed the feeling of satiety and increased food consumption by almost 40 percent.
The authors also stated that the research showed a greater prevalence of obesity among those with more varied diets.
In a 2006 study they looked at, overweight people who were offered a number of options for a snack ate 25 percent more servings per week than those who were told they could eat as much as they wanted of one snack.
‘For modern adults, eating a wide range of foods has come to mean eating too much of too many unhealthy things far too often,’ said lead author Dr Marcia de Oliveira Otto, a professor of epidemiology at UT Health.
‘Understanding the influence of diet diversity on eating patterns is increasingly important in middle- and high-income countries where excessive calorie consumption and obesity are common and populations need support in making healthy choices.’
The scientists say that instead of recommending people to eat different types of foods, there should be an emphasis on eating a great variety of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
They also added that low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts can all fit into a healthy diet, while warning to stay away from red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages.
‘Selecting a range of healthy foods is potentially better at helping people maintain a healthy weight than choosing a greater range of foods that may include less healthy items such as donuts, chips, fries and cheeseburgers, even in moderation,’ said Dr Otto.
Co-author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said there may have once been a time when eating many different types of foods was good for you.
‘Centuries ago, food was not heavily processed and vitamin deficiencies were a very real concern [so] diversity in diets may have actually been very beneficial during that time,’ he told ABC News.
‘Nowadays, “everything in moderation” can be misinterpreted and feed into the food industry.’
He told the network that he believes diets that are more regimented with a fewer number of foods – but all healthy options – are the best.
Dr Mozaffarian said a good example of a diet to follow is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is designed to prevent or lower high blood pressure, or hypertension.
The DASH diet, recommended by the American Heart Association, encourages reducing sodium and eating vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods – and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
A typical dinner dish could consist of roasted chicken breast, a baked potato and a side of asparagus.