Jen Articles

Nutrition Myths Debunked

Find out here which ones you’ve believed in!!

Drink milk; don’t drink milk; fat makes you fat; fat doesn’t make you fat; eat whole wheat; eat whole grain; don’t eat at night-sound familiar?  The nutrition reports that bombard us everyday are enough to make our heads spin.  Even though I’ve spent countless hours earning numerous degrees and certifications, there are times when I spin my wheels trying to make sense of the latest craze.  I would like to take some time and hopefully shed some light on the nutrition chaos that inundates us sometimes on a daily basis.

You must stay away from all “bad” foods.  How often do you start yet another diet promising yourself you will ward off all evil foods?  The truth is, after a few days of obsessing about the foods you swore off, you find yourself locked in a closet somewhere licking the crumbs at the bottom of the cookie bag!  Ok, maybe not to this extreme (or maybe it is-LOL!!!!).  Then you beat yourself up, comment how you have no willpower and start yet another diet in the morning.  When you follow an overly restrictive lifestyle and I use the word lifestyle here because it applies not only to nutrition, it is inevitable that failure occurs.  The parameters are too tight-there is virtually no room for success.  First banish the word perfect from your nutrition vocabulary. Perfect doesn’t exist but balance does.  A balanced diet is eating healthy clean foods 80-90% of the time and then treats (according to portion size!) can easily fit into your lifestyle the other 10-20% of the time!!  This is balance!!!  When sitting down to enjoy your clean food and treats, enjoy them.  Sit down; pay attention to the taste and texture; savor every bite and then when you’re done walk away truly satisfied.  Eating cookies in a closet can’t ever be as satisfying as sitting down with your kids enjoying a cookie from a batch of freshly baked ones!!!!

You should drink 8, 8-oz glasses of water every day. It is no joke that water is vital to our bodies.  It is important to stay hydrated and replace the water that is lost throughout the day.  However, it is too much for any of us to truly measure that number so guidelines have been created.  Hence, drink 8, 8 oz glasses of water every day.  How does one know if they are getting enough water?  For children and adults alike, if your urine is pale yellow, you’re doing a good job!

Eating at night causes weight gain.  I know you’ve heard this one.  “No eating after 7 p.m.”  Try telling that to someone who grabs the 5:40 train, then has to pick up their kids and get everyone home and still prepare dinner.  When you eat is not nearly as important as WHAT you eat and HOW MUCH you eat.  The WHAT and the HOW MUCH is the key.  Eating a balanced dinner and then a light snack before bed is quite normal.  If you notice that you are eating a lot at night then maybe you under-ate during the day.  By the time the evening rolls around you are famished.  In this state over eating is easy to do. This scenario is one reason this diet rule was created. For anyone who works out in the evening, you must eat after you exercise.  Eating a well balanced post workout meal is crucial to the body’s recovery.

Fad diets work for permanent weight loss.  Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and permanently keep it off.  Often, fad diets promise quick weight loss and usually by cutting out certain foods out of your diet, you will experience quick weight loss.  But diets that strictly limit calories or food choices are extremely hard to follow.  Diets like these can become frustrating and usually end up in an all or nothing attitude.  Either I’m on the diet or I’m off the diet-and if I’m off, the “I am going to have a good time” mentality begins to set in.  Sometimes, even causing a weight gain that exceeds your original starting weight. By adopting a “healthier” lifestyle, moderate weight loss (1/2 pound to 2 pounds per week) is possible.  What do I mean by healthier lifestyle?  Exercise more, smaller portions and better food choices.

Natural or herbal weight loss products are safe and effective.  A weight loss product that claims to be natural or herbal is not necessarily safe.  These products are not usually scientifically tested and they are not required by law to be proven that they are safe or that they work.  It is important to talk with your doctor about herbal supplements.  Some when used in higher doses may cause toxicity and some when combined with prescription medication can be extremely harmful.
Fat is bad.  For a long time, fat has been touted as bad.  Rather than consume it, we turn to fat free cookies, fat free ice cream-really fat free everything.  The fact is, we all need fat.  Fat aids in the absorption of nutrients, in nerve transmission and fat helps maintain the integrity of cell membranes.  This doesn’t even scratch the surface of how important fat is to a healthy body.  Your brain is fat!!  We need fat.  It’s getting the right kinds of fat in our diet that needs to be cleared up.  All fats are not created equal.  Some fats promote good health, while others increase the risk for heart disease.  The key is to replace the bad fats in your diet, the saturated and trans fats and replace them with good fats.  How does one do that?  Using olive oil in your salad dressings and for cooking, throwing some flax meal in your yogurt or your morning cereal.  Bring wild Alaskan salmon, walnuts, seeds and various nut butters into your diet.   There are also DHA fortified foods available for purchase in the local supermarkets.  You can also buy flax seed oil in your local health food store.  Add it to your smoothies; use flax oil over your salads instead of olive oil for variation.
Skipping meals will make you lose weight. If you skip a meal, your body will think that you are in starvation mode and therefore slow down metabolism to compensate.  Also, when you skip a meal, you tend to overeat at the next one.  Your body is already sluggish, and you over consume calories because you are famished.  These two factors lead to weight gain.  An ideal approach is to eat smaller frequent meals throughout the day.  Basically, 3 small meals with 2-3 snacks worked in between.  For some this definitely is not ideal for a busy work day.  But with a little planning it can be done.  Throw some fresh fruit and pre packaged nuts in your briefcase and you are all set.  Take dinner leftovers for your snack.  Just make it a smaller portion.  Made pancakes on the weekend?  Make extra and refrigerate.  Use these extras as a snack option.  Whenever cooking, make extra!!  This is a huge help when planning out snacks for the week.
I hope this has helped to clear up some of the myths behind nutrition!!