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Misconceptions Contributing to the Obesity Epidemic

Atkins Effect Behind Obesity Epidemic?

Link to Article | http://www.torontosun.com/life/healthandfitness/2010/06/11/14347616.html

Written By: Cara Castagna

MONDAY, June 14th 2010 (Edmonton Sun) — Overweight North Americans aren’t totally out to lunch when it comes to good nutrition.

But there are three common mistakes being made that are contributing to the current obesity epidemic, says well-respected U.S. dietitian and nutritionist Amy Shapiro.

First, countless dieters are opting for low carbs or no carbs.

Call it the Atkins effect.

“Everybody’s afraid of carbs,” Shapiro explains in a phone interview from New York City.

“But you can’t cut carbs for your entire life. So once you begin to bring carbs back, you’re going to lose the results that you had.”

Second, North Americans are collectively eschewing fats and reaching for products with “fat-free” labels.

“Fat-free products don’t have as much flavour and don’t fill us up as much, so we eat more of them,” Shapiro points out, noting that fat-free foods are typically filled with sugar to give them their taste.

“Instead of sitting down to eat two real cookies, you’ll eat six cookies that have no fat in them. So you’re still eating more calories overall.”

And third, a growing majority is just plain eating too much in this era of supersized portions.

“You never want to walk away from a meal feeling full. You want to feel satisfied. You always can eat again if you’re hungry again. It’s not like it’s your last meal,” says Shapiro.

“We’re just so used to these big portions and we’re so used to over-consumption of everything in North America.”

Shapiro, a lean 110 pounds at five-foot-three, helped create the meal plans behind www.bodylogix.com – a free training and nutrition website for anyone who makes a purchase from Winnipeg-based supplement company Bodylogix.

The fit 34 year old also runs a private practice in Midtown Manhattan called AWS Nutrition, where she specializes in weight loss, general wellness, pre- and post-natal nutrition, and pediatric nutrition.

Shapiro’s philosophy is about helping clients create a lifestyle and not a diet because, as she says, diets don’t work.

“You need to incorporate foods that make you feel good and foods that you crave and that you want to eat,” she adds. “So generally what I like to encourage is eating some lean protein, high-fibre carbohydrates and healthy fats (unsaturated fats from sources such as avocado, nuts, vegetable oil and flax seed) at pretty much every single meal, because together that combination is going to make you feel satisfied and keep you full on the least amount of calories overall.”

And therein lies the secret: a meal that provides the most satiety with the least amount of calories.

“Everything still tastes good because there’s fat and protein and carbs that everybody wants, but it’s just the most healthy form of all of those things,” Shapiro says.

But don’t forget about portion control, she reminds us.

“Picture your plate in front of you. Cut that plate in half. Fill half of that plate with fresh vegetables or fruit,” she advises.

“Then cut the other half in quarters, so one quarter should be a lean protein (such as skinless chicken or turkey breast, wild salmon) and the other quarter should be a complex carbohydrate (like brown rice or quinoa). That’s a balanced meal.”

Besides following her own nutrition advice, Shapiro gets plenty of exercise.

She does cardio – including kickboxing, running and spinning – up to five times a week, weight trains one or two times a week and performs Pilates weekly.

“And I live in New York City, so I walk everywhere,” she says, noting she doesn’t own a car and never takes elevators.

“You’re so active when you’re in a walking city that you are burning calories you’re not even thinking about.”

For Shapiro, who has been working out since she was around 15, exercise isn’t an option.

“It’s a habit,” says the certified yoga instructor who no longer has the time to teach. “The truth of the matter is I am a walking billboard for my company. I have to practice what I preach. “

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