Living Lite

Sweets At Breakfast Help Dieters Lose Weight

February 27, 2012

My client Marcia was thrilled to read the recent New York Times headline: "Sweets at Breakfast May Help Dieters!"  "Could it be true?" she asked. "Wouldn't that be wonderful!" said I... as I went about researching the study to respond to her life-or-death question (what a heavy responsibility!).

The study:  The successful dieters ate a 600 calorie breakfast containing sweets, the unsuccessful dieters ate a 300 calorie breakfast - no sweets. Both groups ate a very low calorie diet overall. The study found the dieters who ate the 600 calories breakfast containing sweets were more likely to lose weight.

What's wrong with this picture? It is a huge leap to say the sweets caused weight loss or made weight loss easier. The difference in calories alone could account for the reduction in cravings and appetite for the 600-calorie-breakfast eaters, aiding their weight loss - not the fact that the 600 calorie breakfast contained doughnuts or cakes (claimed by the study's authors). Previous studies have found when people eat proportionately more calories earlier in the day, they eat fewer overall calories. This finding is verified through my 20-plus years of counseling people:  a large, balanced breakfast controls appetite and helps people lose weight. Weight maintenance studies also confirm the importance of breakfast for lasting results.

How should the study have been designed to find out if sweets help dieters lose weight? For a valid comparison, both groups should have eaten an equal sized breakfast (600 calories), with the only difference being that one would contain sweets while the other wouldn't. This is the only way the study's authors could have made their sensational conclusion (sweets at breakfast help dieters lose weight). Disappointing? I know! But the good news is: You can enjoy a large, delicious breakfast and lose weight.

A skimpy 300 calorie breakfast, coupled with a very restrictive eating regimen, which was the design of this experiment, is bound to cause overeating – and studies have been verifying that restrictive dieting doesn't work, particularly in the long-term... over and over and over. So, the fact that this group of dieters had trouble losing weight is not surprising. This is the only conclusion this study can draw: restrictive dieting backfires.

For more details:

Click here to share your thoughts.

The Gluten-Free Craze

February 19, 2012

A jug of wine, NO loaf of bread, and thou?

It's all the rage right now; in fact, you may be thinking of going on a gluten-free diet. Before you do, here are some things to think about.  Originally, gluten-free diets were designed to combat celiac disease, a serious auto-immune disorder which destroys the intestinal tract. Celiac affects about 1% of the population and is reversed by taking gluten out of the diet. But, the danger of self-diagnosing and taking gluten out of your diet prematurely is that you would never be able to get an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms. An intestinal biopsy is the only way to detect celiac.

People try it because they feel tired, bloated, depressed, but haven't we all felt this way from time to time? So, before you rush into a gluten-free diet try something simple, say, an apple... uh, or exercise? Or would you prefer a life of no bread, pasta or birthday cakes?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein in wheat which gives bread its structure.

Gluten-Containing Foods

Barley, Bulgur, Cereal Binding, Couscous, Durum, Einkorn, Emmer, Fillers, Farro, Graham Flour, Kamut, Malt, Malt Extract, Malt Flavoring, Malt Syrup, Oats which are not labeled “Gluten-Free” because they have been contaminated by gluten in the field or in the processing plant, Rye, Semolina, Spelt, Triticale, Wheat, Wheat Bran, Wheat Germ, Wheat Starch, and others…

Naturally Gluten-Free Whole Grains

Brown Rice, Whole Corn, "Gluten-Free" Oats, Millet, Teff, Sorghum, Wild Rice, Buckwheat, Amaranth, and Quinoa.

For more information, and to hear "The Gluten-Free Craze" on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, visit

Click here to share your thoughts.