Lifestyle lifestyle search
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2, 2004
Diet counts bites
Plan promises quick weight loss; experts skeptical
On the bite diet, you’re supposed to limit yourself to four meals a day with a specific number of bites and you will shrink your stomach, learn healthy eating habits and shed pounds – all in 21 days, it promises.
They call it the bite diet.
Limit yourself to four meals a day with a specific number of bites and you will shrink your stomach, learn healthy eating habits and shed pounds – all in 21 days, it promises.
"Counting bites instead of portions" will quickly "normalize" your eating so you lose weight – and permanently, says Joan Breibart, who created the plan along with registered dietitian Meredith Luce.
Breibart says on the diet, people revert to healthy eating habits that were in place before super-size meals, time pressures and modern lifestyles sparked the current "obesity epidemic."
Each day, you eat two 12 to 16-bite meals and two made up of 18 to 22 bites. There is no snacking. But the plan allows for about nine extra bites over a week for desserts and garnishes.
What’s a bite? It’s what you can comfortably hold in your mouth and fit on your fork – and does not cause "chipmunk cheeks," Breibart explains.
Each meal includes one fluid that ought to be something that will raise your blood sugar – not water or diet soda.
Drink between meals only if you are thirsty. But no food or drink is forbidden.
However, some experts say the bite diet is really another fad without much science to sink your teeth into.
Toronto home economist Mairlyn Smith calls it "all smoke and mirrors."
And Mississauga registered dietitian Donna Bottrell says it is "a bunch of hocus-pocus."
To permanently lose weight, you must do it slowly by eating less food without starving yourself of enough calories and nutrients, they say.
"I get upset when people say you can lose weight and get fixed in 21 days," Smith says. "That is just not true. There is no magic miracle."
But Breibart says her plan works because it does not measure food or count calories, carbs or fat grams.
Most diets label some foods as good and others as bad, she says. "Good" ones can be consumed in large or unlimited amounts and "bad" ones must be limited or eliminated, whether the plan is low cal, low fat or low carb, she says.
This approach, however, corrupts normal eating habits and stretches the stomach, making people hungrier and launching a "vicious cycle" of overeating and weight gain, Breibart says.
By chewing each bite – at last five times to start – you improve digestion and appreciate a food’s taste, so you naturally eat less, she says.
The plan limits fluid consumption during each meal because too much fluid dilutes a meal’s taste and causes more eating, she says.
Many North Americans have a "water addiction" and are brainwashed to think we need eight glasses a day, Breibart says. "It’s a myth."
However, both Smith and Bottrell say the bite diet is too low in calories and doesn’t supply enough energy or nutrients.
Many days you may eat only 1,000 calories. They say you need at least 1,200 to 1,500 calories each day so you don’t lower your metabolism and regain any lost weight as soon as you stray from the bite diet limits.
Smith says the diet is based, in part, on some sound principles: portion control, chewing food thoroughly, eating slowly and not forbidding foods or food groups.
"It takes your brain 20 minutes to realize you are not hungry, so chewing well and eating more slowly are good things," Smith says. But you still need eight glasses of fluid a day, she says.
Though the bite diet is touted as easy to follow because it eliminates measuring foods, calories, fat and carbs, Bottrell says a closer look at the details shows it is, in fact, very complex.
"I had a hard time understanding how you use all the fixes and fares and bites and put the plan into action, it was so complicated," she says.
She says it would be very hard to meet the stated calorie and nutrient goals just by slowly chewing a number of bites each meal, so you would need to plan very carefully.
This site is updated regularly, so check back often.
(C) 2004 Metro | Privacy | Website Feedback | Site Map