Pasta, water, Instagram: Sorting out those weight loss headlines

WASHINGTON — It seems every day brings another study on weight loss. The headlines say eat pasta, drink water or post on Instagram. But what is the real story?

Too often headlines are hyped to get the attention of anyone wanting to drop some pounds. And experts say it is important to put all these findings in context.

According to Dr. Domenica Rubino, director of the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research, everyone needs to approach these stories of the latest and greatest diet discoveries with a good bit of skepticism. Everyone should also stop looking for a magic way to slim down.

“Part of the problem is we are all seeking the magic thing, the one thing that is going to make a difference,” she said.

Rubino said the recent study about dehydration and obesity, for example, is interesting and calls attention to the need for us all to drink enough water. But that does not mean that drinking more water is the cure for the nation’s obesity problem.

The bottom line is that weight management is complex and there are a lot of factors involved. Rubino said if there was one answer — be it drinking water or eating yogurt — the country would not be in the situation it finds itself in today with an ever-expanding national waistline.

She says weight loss involves cutting calories and increasing activity — but just how to do that is different from one person to the next.

There is, however, one weight reduction tool that appears to be universal.

Rubino is a great fan of keeping track of what you eat using a food journal. It can be as simple as a notebook or as high tech as an app that does all kinds of detailed nutritional computations.

The ultimate goal is to become more aware of not just what you eat, but why you eat it.

“If you can be conscious of why you are eating — is it food for fuel or to calm down — that is sort of the next step,” said Rubino.

More and more dieters have been documenting their food choices on social media — particularly Instagram and Twitter.

Rubino said some people thrive and that “having people rally around you can be very helpful.”

But she warns there are pluses and minuses to posting on social media about your weight loss journey.

“I think the dangerous part is if the people with whom you are rallying become competitive or have unrealistic expectations,” she said.

Rubino said anyone intrigued by a diet-related headline — whether it is about water or the benefits of posting food photos — should take the time to dig a little deeper. She said if you lack the training to read a study abstract, turn to trusted resources like WebMD or the Mayo Clinic and see how they interpret the findings.

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