Class #2: Common Nutrition Myths – Debunked!
Written By: Maria C. Romano, MS RD CDN
With all the conflicting nutrition advice floating around these days, in magazines, on the Internet, in diet books, and on health and wellness TV shows, telling the difference between fact and fiction can be pretty challenging. This week’s BronxFit topic is “Common Nutrition Myths”. Here is a preview of some common nutrition advice that’s not as true as it may seem. For more nutrition facts, and to learn who is your best source for nutrition information, join us in our next BronxFit class!
Myth: Skipping meals isn’t so bad for me.
Fact: You may think skipping meals won’t affect your weight loss efforts, but studies have shown that people accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals instead of smaller, more frequent meals. Skipping meals typically leads to eating more food than you need at your next meal and throughout the day. Eating more frequently will help reduce bloating, control blood sugar, hormone levels, and manage hunger. Be sure to choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables to help your body get the nutrition it needs.
Myth: I’ll never lose weight if I eat “bad” foods.
Fact: While most cravings pass in about five minutes, research has shown that eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself, so long as you eat the not-so-healthy fare in moderation and keep it to a “once in a while” basis. So, you can have your cake and eat it too, but if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight, you may want to add an extra 15 minutes of physical activity to your day. This will help you to burn the extra calories you’ve taken in, keeping in mind the importance of balancing calories in with calories out. Another option is to give your favorite foods a “nutrition upgrade”. The easiest way to do this is to take control of your food by preparing it yourself. Sprinkle sliced potatoes with some garlic powder and bake them for healthy fries. Use whole wheat pizza dough or pita bread, low fat mozzarella cheese, and tomato slices to make a healthy pizza. Top frozen, sliced bananas and low fat whipped cream with chocolate syrup for a low calorie “banana split”!
Myth: If a food package says “all natural”, it has to be healthy.
Fact: Even if something is labeled “all natural”, it can still contain high amounts of sugar, fat, sodium, or any other ingredients than can derail your healthy eating. To truly determine if a food product is healthy, be your own judge and read the food label and ingredients list. If you’re still not certain, choose something that you know is “natural” because it’s packaged in it’s most natural state….think whole fresh fruit or vegetables.
Myth: If I eat mostly low-fat foods, I will lose weight.
Fact: Research has shown that low-fat or reduced-fat foods may actually have the same or more calories than full-fat versions of the same food. This is because fat is often replaced with sugar or salt to compensate for flavor. In addition, knowing something is “low fat” or “fat free” sends the incorrect message that it’s okay to eat more of these foods, when that is not the case. Your best bet is to control your portion sizes and stick with a balanced, minimally processed diet, choosing foods that are closest to their most natural form most of the time. This can include healthy fats, which can actually help weight loss efforts by providing a feeling of fullness and keeping us satisfied longer so we don’t overeat. Almonds, walnuts, olives, avocados, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are all foods that are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to our overall well-being.
Myth: Frozen fruit and vegetables are not as healthy as fresh ones.
Fact: Produce that is picked and eaten within a few days contains more vitamins and minerals, and is therefore the best choice, but nutrient levels drop during shipping and storage. So in winter months when most fresh produce is traveling for days, if not weeks, before it gets to your local supermarket, frozen produce may be the better choice. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be just as healthy as freshly picked produce since they are picked at peak ripeness and frozen soon after harvesting to preserve their nutrients. When choosing frozen produce, remember to avoid those packaged in sauces, which only add sodium and fat or sugar and calories.
What to expect in Class #3… What’s the hype about whole grains? Next session we will discuss the truth about whole grains and why some carbohydrates are better for you than others.