Forget everything you’ve heard about dieting and nutrition as we bust 5 myths.
We all have one: A friend who seems to know all the latest fad diets and weight loss tips and tricks. The fact is, however, that there are many myths about how to go about eating and exercising. Here are five common dieting and nutrition myths debunked.
- Myth: All fat is bad
Fact: Not all fats are bad fats. Mono-and polyunsaturated fats are actually good for us. They can help increase our good cholesterol, help our hearts and may reduce inflammation. The bad fats you should eliminate from your diet are trans-fats and saturated fats. These are found in many processed foods that contain refined sugars. Foods rich in good fats are found in fish and plant-based foods like avocados, nuts and seeds. Simple ways to increase good fats in your diet are:
- Cook with canola, olive or sunflower oil
- Add a handful of nuts or seeds to your meals
- Eat fish twice a week
Pregnant women are advised to eat eight to 12 ounces of seafood each week. A mother’s intake of omega-3s has been associated with positives for her baby. It may help with brain and eye development, for example. Just avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. The mercury content in these fish is not safe for pregnant women. Although white albacore tuna contains less mercury, pregnant women should limit it to six ounces per week.
- Myth: Eliminate carbs and you’ll lose weight
Fact: We all need carbohydrates or carbs because they are our body’s fuel.
You may feel sluggish and tired without enough carbs. Government guidelines advise us to make fruit and vegetables half our plate at every meal. They also suggest you cut down on simple carbs and replace with unrefined carbs, such as:
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole grain cereals
- Brown rice
Concentrate on foods with complex carbs like vegetables, fruits and whole grains instead of cutting out all carbs. Eliminate simple carbs that contain sugar. Choosing a diet that includes a variety of complex carbs also helps ensure you’re eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. So eat a ripe peach, a bunch of grapes or an apple.
- Myth: Eating healthy costs too much
Fact:Eating healthy can actually cost less for a family of four.
If you buy organic, out-of-season or unusual fruits and vegetables, they can cost more per ounce. Fast food, restaurant meals and processed foods can be more expensive than eating at home. You can save money and eat healthier by:
- Preparing and cooking more meals at home
- Buying fruit and vegetables in-season
- Buying fruits and vegetables when they’re on sale
- Buying in bulk
- Growing your own fruits and vegetables
- Myth: I can eliminate calories by skipping meals
Fact: Skipping a meal, especially breakfast, has been shown to increase your chances of being overweight.
It’s better to eat throughout the day, including healthy snacks between meals. Exchange an unhealthy snack with a healthier option instead of skipping a meal. Cutting out just 100 calories a day and increasing your activity level will do more for your health and weight than skipping a meal.
- Myth: A low calorie diet is the only way to lose weight
Fact: The only sure-fire way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in.
The best way to do this is to eat a healthy range of foods and increase your physical activity level. Exercise doesn’t mean you need to go to a gym or fitness center. It can be as simple as going for a walk, gardening or playing catch with your child or grandchild. Eat fewer empty calories a day and increase how much you move. Slowly but surely, pound by pound, you’ll start to notice the difference.
The bottom line? Skip the fad diets and eat as healthy as you can. Exercise more. If you splurge once in awhile, get back on track the next day.
Note: If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.
SOURCES: • United States Department of Agriculture. Eating healthy on a budget: The consumer economics perspective. Accessed: 09/13/2013 • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Weight-control Information Network. Weight-loss and nutrition myths. Accessed: 10/15/2013 • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Accessed: 10/15/2013 • United States Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Accessed: 09/13/2013 Copyright © 2014 myOptumHealth.