MANILA, September 15, 2003  (STAR) By Dr. Augusto D. Litonjua  - Many people are guilty of practicing myths about dieting without even considering whether they are true or merely hearsay. Commonly subscribed to by people with weight problems, these myths actually promise no weight loss but your time and effort all put to unproductive means.

Before abiding by a dietary regimen, it would be wise to first know and understand how it will benefit you and your body and seeing if it allows you to shed unwanted pounds. Follow this information and tips to put an end to some of your weight-loss myths and enlighten you on having a proper and effective diet.

Myth: Skip meals, breakfast for example, to lose weight.

Fact: Your body needs a certain amount of calories and nutrients each day for it to function properly. By skipping meals during the day, or even having an irregular eating habit, the tendency is you will more than make up for the hunger later on by consuming bigger meals and worse, meals containing insufficient amounts of nutrients, such as chips and junk food.

To prove this point further, research suggests that people who miss breakfast tend to weigh heavier than those who catch up on a nutritious first meal. Besides, while asleep, our body continues to burn nutrients to enable systems to function, thus it is important to refuel our bodies each morning for it to be in its prime throughout the day.

Myth: Fad diets allow for permanent weight loss.

Fact: They may at first but not for as long as you continue to deprive yourself of food that should provide you with nutrients that your body needs. Stringently sticking to a fad diet does not only prove to be unhealthy but it also raises the possibility of you regaining the pounds you lose once you get tired of eating the same thing over and over again.

Studies show that eating healthy and exercising more still remain to be the best ways to lose weight. By improving your eating and exercise habits, you develop a better lifestyle and on top of that, reduce the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few.

Myth: Avoid starchy food for they are fattening.

Fact: Not necessarily. Being a good source of energy for the body, starch should be included in your diet. In fact, foods high in starch can be low in fat and calories. They only become high in fat and calories when eaten with rich sauces, oils or other high-fat toppings like butter and sour cream, or when eaten in large amounts. Go for starchy foods that are high in fiber, like whole grains, beans and peas.

Myth: Natural or herbal weight-loss products are not effective.

Fact: The global market has already seen a number of medications that promise to help you lose weight. Some, indeed, do when coupled with a proper diet and regular exercise. Others, on the other hand, help but sadly in the wrong manner. A product that claims to be "natural" or "herbal" is not necessarily safe. For instance, some products work in your central nervous system by suppressing your appetite, thus not urging you to grab a bite. This is unsafe as it may trigger problems in your system whereas when you take in Xenical, a medication prescription that has gotten thousands of European and American doctors duly interested. This blue-capsuled pill acts in your gastrointestinal tract by confining the absorption of fats to a limited amount, thus it is safe and is actually not a threat to your health as false reports say.

(The author started making his mark in medical history with his remarkable contributions to a number of organizations, including the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation and the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism. He continues to do so as the president of the Philippine Association for the Study of Obesity and Overweight.)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved